LIVE IN LIMA – DAY 5: UN COP20 climate change summit



Latest headlines:
– COP20 climate talks show little urgency
China-Latin alliance could set tone for Lima climate summit
IETA: Carbon markets need to matter more in Lima
– Climate adaptation costs could hit $1trn a year by 2050 – UN
– Japan has no policy on excluding coal from climate spending

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1700 – So what’s the state of play in the talks at the moment? Countries are still discussing the chair’s informal version of the elements text, where they are just finishing up discussions on technology, leaving some of the thornier issues, including post-2020 emissions reductions, to later this evening. They were initially hopeful that a new version of the text might be released this evening, but people I’ve spoken to around the venue suggest that this may be optimistic.

There is also a sense of concern that no substantive discussions have yet taken place on how to boost climate action before 2020, after which the new agreement will kick in. This was meant to be one of the main pillars of the talks in Lima, but so far the response has been radio silence. This places an added pressure on talks when they resume next week.

While the shape of the final text is important, where the real urgency come in is how and what countries will submit in their nationally determined contributions for the new deal. Without a decision on this, it will be impossible for countries to submit their contributions by March next year.

Nonetheless, the impression I’ve been receiving from delegates and observers more generally is that, despite the leisurely pace, the atmosphere of the talks has been good. The stage has been set for next week, when the big shots (aka ministers from 119 countries) jet in to add their very important tuppence.

As an added bonus, here are some photos of the land rights protest by indigenous people earlier. All photos are from Adopt a Negotiator’s Avik Roy.

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And here’s a photo to explain why I couldn’t get close enough to take a decent photo myself on my camera phone.


1703 – Talks on carbon markets here in Lima have crashed, IETA’s Jeff Schwartz tells RTCC. The issue will be taken up again in June.

1437 – A press conference with the Japanese delegation is now starting.

“We are making our best efforts to help developing countries make adaptation efforts,” says Hideaki Mizukoshi from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Journalists here have been provided by the delegation with an A3 booklet explaining its “concrete initiatives” on adaptation.

Japan believes that INDC commitments should be focused on mitigation. “We will try to, make our best efforts to, submit our INDC as soon as possible,” but cannot say a specific date, says Mizukoshi.

The eventual $100 billion target, which needs to be mobilised from 2020, is a “different type of target” to the current efforts to fill the coffers of the Green Climate Fund, which is very close to its $10 billion target, says Mizukoshi. “Now is not the time to raise expectations for a larger amount of money. Rather, we should think how best we can make use of this money.”

The elephant in the room in this press conference was definitely the fact that Japan was found to have used its climate finance to fund a coal plant in Indonesia. Karl Ritter from Associated Press, who broke the story, receives a short answer when he asks if there needs to be safeguards in place on the Green Climate Fund to prevent this kind of spending in the future: “On how to use the Green Climate Fund, we are still hoping and we haven’t taken particular policies yet.”

1400 – I’m at a press conference with the EU delegation. Elina Bardram, the EU’s chief negotiator, says: “The conference has got off to a relatively smooth start…We’ve been able to overcome quite a few challenges,” in which she includes the method of working on the text. The way that countries have agreed to go forward has assured parties that their views are clearly visible while still allowing the co-chairs to streamline the process. But she says that for success in Lima countries need to be prepared to step out of their comfort zones.

She also confirms that the EU stands firm in its view of how their contributions should be formed – i.e. that they should be based on finance. “We don’t see the adaptation and finance parts in the INDCs. That doesn’t mean we’re not open to including some processes that would provide our partners with reassurances that these elements are core to the 2015 agreement.”

Another controversial subject is whether the Paris deal should contain a binding figure for finance. This is why it would be difficult for the EU, according to Bardram: “The way national treasuries programme their budgets is on an annual budget, so we can’t possibly make forward commitments.” But the EU willing to explore different ways to provide reassurance to developing countries that this money will be on its way, she says.

On the idea of an adaptation goal, this is definitely something Bardam says she sees gaining traction; not least because the EU itself is already feeling the impacts of climate change.

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1300 – The biggest news this morning came from Norway; their pledge to the Green Climate Fund pushed it to $9.95 billion, and almost to its target this year of $10 billion. French bank Société Générale also announced that it would no longer fund a massive coal mine in Australia.

The feel here is that talks are progressing well, now that the procedural issues have been ironed out. Countries are now ready to work on the substance of the text. The Africa Group changed the dynamic when it proposed its own text on finance, which some wanted to become the official negotiating text (although many from the developed world wanted to continue working off the co-chair’s text).

A protest by indigenous people filled one of the main squares of the Lima venue with some colour this morning, but the reason was a tragic one: the women were fighting for their land rights following the murders of their husbands in September.

1306 – Oxfam has updated its handy climate finance graph recognising this morning’s contribution from Norway.

1256 – French bank Société Générale has pulled out of the large Alpha Coal project in Australia. Based in the Galilee Basin in Queensland, this mine would have emitted more than Sweden, according to Greenpeace. The bank issued this short statement on its website today:

“In the context of the Alpha Coal project’s delay, Societe Generale has decided, in agreement with GVK-Hancock, to suspend its mandate. The bank has therefore no involvement with the project.”

1237 – Outside the slightly strange world of the UN climate talks in Lima, real people continue to be affected by climate change. In particular, the Philippines is preparing to be battered by a super typhoon expected to make landfall on Saturday night.

The typhoon has been named Hagupit, which means whip. But Greenpeace is running a campaign to rename it after one of the world’s most polluting countries. Suggested names include Chevron, ExxonMobil and BP. The group is encouraging people to make their nominations over Twitter, using the hashtag #RenameHagupit.

Greenpeace have also put together a cool visualisation to explain exactly what’s going on here in Lima.

1231 – I’ve just heard that Norway’s contribution to the Green Climate Fund today takes it up to $9.95 billion – a hair’s breadth away from its $10 billion goal. Even a fairly small country could now come forward to fill this gap, earning automatic kudos, so I’ll be watching keenly to see if anyone steps up.

Here’s what Tine Sundtoft, Norway’s minister of climate and environment, had to say:

“Norway is working towards a climate agreement in 2015 in which all countries will participate. Sufficient contributions to the Green Climate Fund, which is now approaching USD 10 billion, will provide a positive impetus to the negotiations. Norway is playing a leading role in climate finance internationally, but mobilising more climate finance is a shared global responsibility. Rich countries must provide the greatest share of the funding, but all countries that have the economic capacity should contribute. Recipient countries have a particular responsibility for providing conditions that attract climate investments.”

1215 – I’ve just been to CAN’s press conference, with Li Shuo from Greenpeace China. He said that the initial procedural hiccups had now been cleared up, and countries have agreed to submit their proposals to the secretariat, which will then be streamlined into a new draft text by the co-chairs – hopefully by the end of today, says Li. Negotiations are going on tonight until 9pm, so there should be some signs of progress. Work on paragraphs 1-12 have already been finalised, but the forthcoming sections are some of the most important: namely, what countries should include in their contributions to the new deal.

The timing issue remains unresolved: should countries create goals for 2025 or 2030? This is likely to be an issue for ministers to grapple with next week, says Li, though he adds that Greenpeace favours the shorter time line. This gives countries the chance to capture the highest level ambition at the time, he says, noting that the future becomes foggier once you start looking ten years ahead.

This particular account would have been peppered with lively direct quotes, but the RTCC team had a battle with technology and lost.

1200 – RTCC held our annual awards on the sidelines of COP20 last night – you can find a full list of winners here. Congratulations to Greenpeace, the Climate Development Lab at Brown University and Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner – some of those who picked up awards last night.

We’d just like to make a quick clarification regarding the award to Greenpeace. This was made exclusively by RTCC. We understand that Greenpeace is an independent organisation and would not under any circumstances accept an award from a political party.

1113 – A group of indigenous women have just staged a protest inside the venue at Lima demanding the titles to their land. Their husbands were killed in early September for protecting their land.

Leader of the group Ergilia Rengifo said in a statement: “Three months after the tragedy, the government has still not complied with our demands to title our land. We have received many promises, including from Prime Minister Ana Jara, but we have yet to see any concrete action. The community is still under constant threat from loggers; in fact, their presence has only increased in the months since the deaths of our husbands, and families in our community face threats of retaliation for reporting any incidents.”

1031 – From the perspective of the business community, this round of talks in Lima are not going so well, says Jonathan Shopley, managing director of The CarbonNeutral Company.

“At Ban Ki Moon’s New York Climate Summit in September, business expressed its strong support for a carbon price and market-based mechanisms to ensure that business has secure, competitively fair ways to reduce emissions at lowest cost.  News during the early stages of the COP are that that some countries, notably Brazil, have blocked the development of these proposals, leaving business with that familiar feeling that things are not really going well,” he told me in an email.

Are you a businessperson with a different perspective. Tweet your opinions at me at @rtcc_sophie.

1000 – It’s Friday, which means we’re almost halfway through the UN climate talks here in Lima. So far, it has been a fairly quiet affair, but now I expect the sense of urgency to pick up. Countries have agreed on how they’re going to proceed with negotiations, which means that some real substance might begin to emerge in the discussions.

Norway gave a boost to the talks by announcing it would double its pledge to the Green Climate Fund to $230 million. Oxfam’s Kelly Dent said: “More financial support for the Green Climate Fund is always welcome and we applaud Norway for increasing their commitment. Several developed countries including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Iceland, Greece and Portugal have still failed to offer their support.” This means the GCF is now extremely close to its $10 billion target. But don’t expect Australia to step forward to fill the gap; foreign minister Julie Bishop has ruled out a contribution.

Today, I’ll be taking an overview of where the talks have got to so far, and whether countries and negotiators have made any progress during the week. Email me with ideas at [email protected] or Tweet me at @rtcc_sophie.

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