LIVE IN LIMA – DAY 3: UN COP20 climate change summit



Latest headlines:
– WMO: 2014 on course to be hottest year ever 

– Green Climate Fund to start accepting projects in 2015
– $650bn in climate finance mobilised annually
Just one in three countries to send ministers
– Plans for 2015 climate deal favour rich, say developing countries 

1800 – Switzerland has today won the prestigious “fossil of the day” award – the honour bestowed on the most obstructive or backward country in the negotiations each day.

Switzerland won the plaudit today for being a “big bully”, Climate Action Network explains:

“Switzerland, in an intervention today, not only opposed any legally binding commitments of finance, but also threatened developing countries that any demands for such would jeopardize the outcome here in Lima. Other developed countries, EU and the US came close to earning a fossil too as they didn’t exactly paint themselves in glory either when they also strongly rejected commitments on finance.”

1755 – Over 250 NGOs have written a letter to the board of the Green Climate Fund following the revelation that Japan has used what was meant to be climate finance to fund a coal plant in Indonesia. Here’s what they have to say:

1749 – India may announce when it will peak emissions in late January when President Obama vista the country, reports China Dialogue. An Indian official told the website on condition of anonymity that a joint declaration in the style of the recent US-China pact had been practically a condition of Obama’s visit.

While they did not specify what India’s response has been, analysts have been drawing their own conclusions, and China’s goal of peaking its emissions by 2030 is certain to be in the minds of the Indian government as they decide on their emissions pathway over coming decades.

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1500 – The Green Climate Fund confirmed today that it will be ready to receive proposals by June 2015, when it will start to consider them. This is good news: it means that this amorphous pot of $9.7 billion (so far) can start being transformed into real projects that will enable the poorest countries reduce their emissions and prepare for some of the worst impacts of climate change.

But the discovery that Japan used its last round of climate finance provisions to fund a coal plant in Indonesia has clouded this announcement somewhat. What makes it worse was that Japan did not even technically break any rules. If the same thing happens with the GCF, then the very legitimacy of climate finance could be in question, said Brandon Wu of Action Aid. EU negotiator Elina Bardram said that countries have their work cut out in Lima to make sure this doesn’t happen.

But there’s more to the exciting world of climate finance than the GCF. Another report presented today by the UN’s climate body revealed that around $650 billion had flowed towards clean energy projects between 2011 and 2012, through direct dealings between rich and poor countries and the efforts of development banks.

Finance will get its moment in the high level spotlight in Lima when ministers meet to discuss the tools they will use to scale up climate finance by 2020. This document provides more detailed information on some of the questions they will have to answer.

1430 –  The EU also went big on climate finance in their press conference just now. Elina Bardram, the EU’s chief negotiator, said that the $9.7 billion pledged in total to the Green Climate Fund was a “very impressive amount to raise in such a short time”.

The fact that the fund will be ready to consider proposals by the first half of 2015 is encouraging, she said, but the work does not just lie with developed countries; recipients countries must make sure they’re ready to receive the money by asking for help where it’s needed.

Bardram was more buoyant about the overall state of climate finance than the NGOs in the press conference I just attended, who said that the revelation that Japan had used climate finance to fund coal could call into question the legitimacy of the GCF. This would largely be dealt with within the GCF itself, she said, though she added “we have our work cut out here in Lima as well”.

1330 – I’m at a press conference about Japan’s controversial use of its climate finance provisions to fund a coal plant in Indonesia. Despite a huge need for extra climate finance, we are seeing is climate finance being siphoned off to coal projects, and this is unacceptable, says Kelly Dent from Oxfam. There was a protest this morning to that effect – see below in this live blog for pictures.

“Let us move away from dirty energy,” said Godwin Uyi Ojo from Friends of the Earth Nigeria, adding that there needs to be shift needs to be towards renewables.

“It’s leading some to question the very legitimacy of climate finance, which is very problematic for us,” says Brandon Wu. Japan’s funding for coal came from its earlier pool of funding called Fast Start Finance between 2010-12. “The Green Climate Fund cannot afford this kind of controversy,” he adds.

But there is a problem. “Technically Japan has not broken any rules, and that means the rules are broken,” says Wu. The GCF therefore needs clear rules on what climate finance can and cannot be spent. This is something that can be worked on right now in Lima, he says, and a contact group has been established to discuss the topic.

1324 – Megan Darby has been at a Peruvian government briefing. The country has a 77-part plan for cutting emissions. Gabriel Quijandria, deputy minister for strategic development, wanted to challenge the idea that “betting on a low carbon economy is a luxury that developing countries cannot afford”. The plan will boost economic growth, he said.

1244 – In other climate finance news, the UN presented a report today in Lima, which showed that up to $650 billion in climate finance may have flowed between 2011-12. This represents the money passed bilaterally from rich to poor countries, as well as help from development banks and official development aid. The figure could be even more than this, according to the report, since climate finance is a complex beast and not always easy to trace.

Between $35-50 billion of this was funds flowing directly from developed to developing countries, said the report. Currently, around 95% of climate finance is spent on emissions cutting measures, which shows how key the 50/50 division of funds between mitigation and adaptation in the Green Climate Fund will be.

RTCC’s editor Ed King was at the launch. This is what he tweeted.

1156 – What’s special about the Green Climate Fund is that it not only helps public sector projects, but also private companies. Here’s some of the ideas they have on how they’ll do this:
– provide equity to companies to unlock early stage financing
– provide long term funding and liquidity facilities
– cover offtake risk through guarantees

The GCF only works through accredited entities. This is to ensure that everyone running projects lives up to a certain set of standards. But organisations that have already been accredited by other climate bodies, including the Global Environment Facility and the Adaptation Fund, can be fast tracked through this process.

There is currently $15 million available to get countries ready to receive money, with a cap of $1 million per country per calendar year. The Fund has so far received 27 requests for readiness money.

1137 – I’m at a side event on the Green Climate Fund – in particular, how stakeholders and countries can engage with the fund. There is $9.7 billion in its coffers at the moment, just shy of its $10 billion target. But the money won’t spend itself. I’m hoping to learn some of the details about how this will be shared out during this session.

Practically every seat in the house is occupied in the (thankfully air conditioned) room, illustrating the level of interest in this topic.

Tao Wang, direct of mitigation and adaptation at the Green Climate Fund, says that “the fund is fast moving into operation and next year will be a year of delivery.” Specifically, this is what it hopes to achieve in 2015:
March – Accredit the first batch of groups responsible for implementing projects, so they can start developing proposals
June – By this time, there should be a number of proposals submitted, and these can then be considered by the board

1109 – There are some pretty startling graphs in the WMO’s State of the Climate 2014 report. Here’s a few that some folks have been putting on Twitter.

1047 – As well as crafting a new climate cutting deal for the post-2020 period, countries are also trying to work out what further action they can take to reduce emissions in the next five years. Germany today announced a new plan to slash CO2 by a further 78 million tonnes by 2020.

There’s a catch. The package does not represent any additional targets from the German government, but rather an attempt to hit their current ambitious goal of a 40% reduction in emissions by 2020. Without these additional measures, the country would fall short by between 5-8%.

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1006 – I’m at the WMO’s press conference on the state of the climate. 2014 is set to be “the warmest or near one of the warmest years on record,” says Jeremiah Lengoasa, deputy secretary of the WMO. Their predictions are based on three data sets, which all show a similar trend.

There have been a number of strange weather events across the world, he adds. This graph illustrates some of the highlights.

The year has been marked by unusually hot ocean temperatures, droughts and floods. The UK, for instance, experienced its wettest year ever, Lengoasa remarks.

Christiana Figueres, UN climate chief, is here to comment on the policy implications of the WMO’s findings. The data calls for two reactions, she says: urgency and a gradual response. These are not contradictory, she says, and here’s why:

“The urgency comes from the data we have just seen, as the urgency is to get as soon as possible to the turning point of where globally, not just one country, but globally, global peaking, and then begin a rapid descent. So the urgency of action has been loudly called for by the data that has just been shared.

“It will also take a certain period of time to be able to decarbonise the development pathway in particular developing countries. It will take time.

“That is why the draft that is being discussed just across the street in Lima, the draft actually looks at both of these components… Can we increase urgency, and [also] construct a process which will constantly diminish the gap between where we ought to be and where we are?”

It is down to scientific messages like these, and also the UN’s IPCC report earlier this year, that all the governments are here in Lima around the table, ready to act on climate change, adds Figueres.

0959 – Activists in Lima have just staged a protest at Japan’s use of climate finance to fund coal power plants. Japan justified the $1 billion spend by saying that it used new, cleaner technology. But the move has left many distinctly unimpressed here at the UN climate talks.

0950 – The majority of ministers have not arrived in Lima yet, allowing their negotiating teams to develop/stall/create/destroy a negotiating text before they arrive. Delhi-based journalist Nithin Sethi has published an interesting Q&A with Prakash Javadekar, India’s environment minister. Some excerpts below – read the full interview here.

On India’s reaction to the US-China joint announcement
It is too low on ambition. The two countries could have done much more. India is already doing many things aggressively to address climate change. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already decided that India will increase the country’s solar power capacity five-fold. That is a massive task we have taken on.

What about India taking on new targets for the post-2020 period?
Wait for the appropriate time please. How can i react that that right now

On whether India shall stand as firm on Climate Change negotiations as it did at WTO, even if that requires standing alone?
I am holding a press conference on Friday; I shall give an answer at the press conference for everyone.

0945 – Campaign group 350 says it plans a Global Day of Divestment Action on February 13 next year, building on the 181 institutions and regional governments that have already announced plans to cut oil, gas and coal investments – totalling US$50 billion in assets.

“The fossil fuel divestment movement has grown quickly over the last two years–now it’s going global,” said May Boeve, Executive Director of “From the United States to Germany, from South Africa to the Pacific Islands, people are standing up and challenging the power of the fossil fuel industry. We know that fossil fuels are the past and clean energy is the future.”

0930 – Welcome to day three in Lima, a city in dire need of a green revolution, judging by the choking fumes that greeted our walk to the bus this morning. Diesel generators were out in force overnight as parts of the Miraflores areas near the Pacific suffered a blackout – a regular occurrence according to hotel staff.

At the talks, the excitement of the New York climate summit and the US and China emission cut announcements has rapidly dissipated. These are currently looking like “zombie” talks, according to Greenpeace UK’s Ruth Davis. Negotiators need to wake up and see the progress around the world, she says.

I’m Sophie Yeo, and I’ll be live blogging throughout the day, focusing on science, the legal nature of a 2015 deal and finance.

Over the last few weeks, developing countries have pledged big bucks to the Green Climate Fund – $9.7 billion to be precise – but most countries are ready to admit that this is not enough.

Finance is key, not only for enabling poor countries to green their economies, but also to build trust. The US recently put $3 billion in the climate finance pot, for instance, at the same time as they spent $400 billion on a new fleet of fighter jets. These are not the sort of statistics that fill sinking islands and struggling farmers with confidence.

It’s also a big day for science. In around half an hour, the World Meteorological Organisation will release their State of the Climate report, which will spell out what they weather has been doing this year. Here’s a teaser: it’s been hot.

Later on in the day, I’ll be going to press conferences with the Peruvian and EU delegations. I’m interested in what they make of the legally binding nature of the climate deal.

As ever, please email me your thoughts at [email protected], or tweet me at @rtcc_sophie.

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