LIVE IN LIMA – DAY 2: UN COP20 climate change summit



Latest headlines:
– Sudan accuses chairs of “imbalance” at UN talks
– Panama asks deal to feature REDD+ and market mechanisms
– Bottom-up approach rejected by developing country coalitions
– Negotiations on draft text due to begin

COP20-Newsflash copy

1230 – The morning plenary has now closed, and all the parties have said exactly how they envisage the UN’s 2015 climate deal. While most pay lip service to the work done by the co-chairs, Kishan Kumarsingh and Artur Runge-Metzger, who prepared a very informal draft text ahead of the meeting, there are some who are unhappy at what it represents.

While the text aims to bring together the views of all the parties in the interests of speeding up the lengthy process, some claim its attempt at a summary is unbalanced, and resent the fact that parties themselves were excluded from the process.

The notion of a bottom-up approach to both mitigation and differentiation also received some backlash. If countries are left to their own devices on deciding how far they should cut their emissions, backsliding is inevitable. This is a view that was mainly expressed by coalitions of developing parties.

Kumarsingh said that negotiations would now take place on a textual basis, which means that countries should start getting down to the nitty-gritty of the work, rather than making general statements.

In other news, the Business Standard in India is reporting that the Philippines has left the Likeminded Developing Countries bloc. Their negotiator, Yeb Sano, was mysteriously dropped from the delegation for this round of UN talks.

The question of whether countries should aim for a 1.5C target is also under the spotlight. It’ll be difficult, both technically and politically, but LDC chief negotiator Ram Prasad Lamsal told RTCC that anything less was “out of the question”.

And if you missed it yesterday, the fast for the climate movement held their largest ever fast, with half the population of Tuvalu joining in for the day.

1148 – Panama on behalf of the Coalition of Rainforest Nations. The nationally determined contributions should be presented by all parties, but differentiated. REDD+ is a central element of the 2015 deal, he says – the first mention of the UN’s forest preservation programme. A new market based mechanism, including REDD, must be included in the 2015 deal. Progress must be made in this by bridging the gap between the Warsaw framework for REDD+ and the Green Climate Fund.

1141 – Cuba on behalf of likeminded developing countries. “We’re highly concerned this process all not move forward in an inclusive and transparent manner,” he says. He wants to see party-based negotiations over a text, rather than a streamlined process driven by the co-chairs. There is a concern, already reflected by some other countries, that a process driven by the co-chairs (that’s Kishan Kumarsingh and Artur Runge-Metzger) does not fairly reflect the views of all parties.

Cuba rejects the idea of bottom-up differentiation, proposed by developed countries (see Switzerland below), which represents a “backsliding”. He also rejects the bottom-up approach to commitments by developed countries – although this should be the basis for developing country proposals. For the US and other developed countries, this is a clear red line. It will be interesting to see how this debate plays out over the coming two weeks.

1135 – South Africa on behalf of BASIC. “We are concerned there is no clarity on the relationship between the INDCs and the future agreement,” he says. He stresses the need to ensure the new deal is equitable and takes into account the different circumstances of countries. He calls on more developed countries to up their climate finance through the Green Climate Fund, but recognises that existing pledges are not a done deal, and demands more information on how these promises will be realised. The pre-2020 gap is not restricted to mitigation, he says, but also applies to adaptation and finance.

 1131 – Saudi Arabia on behalf of Arab Group. He reinforces his view that the new deal should not renegotiate or add new annexes to the convention, and should be wedded to the “historic right of Arab states to sustainable development.” The deal must also respect national sovereignty. There needs to be a focus on the legal nature of the deal. Adaptation and mitigation should be considered in a balanced way.

1126 – Belize on behalf of SICA. Talks must avoid huddles, says the negotiator – the informal discussions among the powerful states which have been one of the key features of previous COPs. Adaptation needs to be strengthened in the post-2020 agreement, she says. She highlights the use of traditional and indigenous knowledge in tackling climate change. On finance, she says there needs to be clarity on how rich countries plan to scale up provisions to $100 billion a year by 2020.

1122 – Nepal on behalf of Least Developed Countries is happy with the co-chairs non-paper, which he says is “reasonably balanced” and reflects their own submission to the UN. Costa Rica on behalf of Latin America alliance AILAC calls for a carbon neutral world by the middle of the century. Calls for a dynamic Paris deal which allows for countries to increase their ambition over time.

1103 – Sudan on behalf of the Africa Group. He is unhappy with the non-paper which the co-chairs provided ahead of the meeting. The text is “imbalanced” he says, as it says the mitigation commitments are supposed to be concrete, while other elements such as adaptation and means of implementation are optional. The text weakens the obligations of rich countries, while raising expectations that developing countries should act – this is “unacceptable”, he says. Meanwhile, his own group’s proposals are “not accurately reflected.

Other groups, including Switzerland just now, said that they were happy to work according to the non-paper provided by the co-chairs.

Confused by the non-paper? Read it here. I also wrote an article about it recently, which explains some of its significance.

1058 – Switzerland on behalf of Environment Integrity Group. He is encouraged by ambitious contributions to Green Climate Fund. “We consider this as a very positive signal to underline that with political will the international community can come together and develop a resilient pathway for our society.”

Their representative, Franz Perrez, offers an interesting idea on how to combat the current division between rich and poor countries: countries should self-differentiate, in a way that is complemented by guidance, which could be in the form of a COP decision or complementary assurances.

1055 – Australia on behalf of the Umbrella Group. The countries it represents are focusing on how to take practical action through cooperating with business and civil society, he says. On the architecture of the text, he says that countries must figure out which elements are “constant and durable, and which are dynamic”. It does not make sense to splinter the work into fragmented work streams, he says.

1053 – The EU is up now. They’re already working on their INDCs as far as they can, she says.

1038 – Kumarsingh opens the floor to interventions to parties. Bolivia’s up first, on behalf of the G77+China group. He reminds countries of the tasks ahead of them: the elaboration of the elements in the draft negotiating text, identification of the information to be contained in intended nationally determined contributions, and the acceleration of pre-2020 action.

He highlights the need to balance work on post-2020 and pre-2020 work in particular. He calls for 40% reductions in greenhouse gases on 1990 levels by 2020 from rich countries. This is not a small ask; the EU is aiming to reach this a decade later. But more action would not only help to close the emissions gap, he says; it would also directly benefit the post-2020 negotiations. It “contributes to greater confidence and trust among parties in the Durban platform (post-2020 action),” he says.

The group is concerned at the lack of progress on the elements of the draft text so far, he adds.

His speech comes in at just over 10 minutes. Kumarsingh repeats his demand for three minute speeches, with rather a wry smile. “Please help us to help you,” he says.

1033 – Meetings will move straight into textual negotiations, as requested by parties when they last met in Bonn, Germany, says the co-chair. This means countries can start actively constructing the draft text, which is hoped to be one of the main outcomes of this round of talks, though there have also been concerns that lack of convergence over some of the central points could lead to something rather unwieldy and difficult to digest.

1028 – Co-chair Kishan Kumarsingh is opening the talks. He is reminding delegates of the need to be concise, on time, and in particular to avoid general statements. Time management has been a recurring theme so far at Lima – UN delegates cannot count timekeeping among their skills.

1011 – It’s day two of the UN climate talks in Lima. The main event of this morning is the ADP plenary. That’s UN jargon for the meeting where the main work on the 2015 Paris deal gets underway. It was meant to start at 10am, though so far there’s no sign of action. Delegates and observers are still filtering into the giant, very hot tent where the biggest gatherings take place.

Today, there is also important work taking place on the review of the 2C target. Should the world instead be aiming for a 1.5C limit to climate change? Small island states certainly think so, as rising sea levels pose an existential threat to their islands. But this would require almost impossibly steep emissions reductions. Don’t expect any conclusions at this sessions, though – the work is not set to conclude till 2015.

There are also a number of press conferences and launches taking place, including a set of ideas by the World Resources Institute on how to seal the deal at Paris. Do they have the silver bullet? We’ll be looking at that later. I’ll be rounding up the latest headlines roughly every three hours, so look out for our newsflash.

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