LIVE IN LIMA – DAY 7: UN COP20 climate change summit



Latest headlines:
– US defends “backsliding” from 2009 target
– EU’s Cañete: UN talks lacking “urgency:
– China to submit climate pledge by March 2015
– Activists protest at Shell event
– New 2015 climate deal draft texts released (LINK)

2000 – Most of the ministers have now arrived in Lima, and it feels like things are about to happen.

Todd Stern from the US and Miguel Arias Cañete from the EU both laid out their visions for the deal, although the US faced scrutiny over its 2020 targets in a workshop among parties, with China questioning why it had appeared to backtrack from its 2009 ambition.

There was also a buzz from activists, who flooded an event today where Shell spoke on the role of fossil fuels and admitted that their business plan would tip the world into dangerous levels of climate change.

And with the release of two new texts, countries have started to negotiate in earnest over what kind of climate deal they want to see in Paris.

1739 – In an interview with RTCC, Katie Sullivan from the International Emissions Trading Association talks about her disappointment at the collapse of discussions over carbon markets here in Lima.

1721 – President of the World Bank Jim Yong Kim today called for a strong Paris deal during a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington.

“In a year’s time, the international community will have the opportunity to send a clear signal that we, as a global community, are determined to manage our economies to achieve zero net emissions before the year 2100.

“Every country finds itself at a different point in the development journey. Therefore, the pace and rhythm of their emissions’ reductions and investments in adaptation will vary. Nonetheless, we have the opportunity in Paris to make clear our collective ambition. That ambition can be translated into long-term demand for clean growth and an increased commitment to adaptation.

“The higher the ambition, the greater the demand will be for programs and projects that will transform economies. Higher ambition will also send a strong message to investors – public and private, domestic and foreign – about the demand and profitability of long-term investments in clean energy and transport systems, sustainable agriculture and forestry, and new resource efficient products.

“Paris must be where we make the rallying cry for effective management of local, national and global economies to fight climate change.”

1709 – The US is being questioned over its 2020 climate targets, as will every developed country ahead of Paris 2015 – the first time such a process of scrutiny has been included in the climate talks.

The US faced some flak from China over its backtracking from its previous pledge to reduce emissions 30% by 2025. RTCC asked Todd Stern the same question earlier, and his response is included below in this live blog. China also asked the US whether it had estimates of how much methane leaks from its oil and gas plants.

The EU faced this scrutiny on Saturday. China again wanted to know if the EU was prepared to lead by increasing its current 20% greenhouse gas reduction target to 30% ahead of other countries. EU chief negotiator Elina Bardram said that the offer was still on the table, but only if other countries were also willing to increase their ambition.

1655 – US Secretary of State John Kerry has confirmed he will be at the UN climate talks in Lima, Jake Schmidt from the Natural Resources Defense Council says.

1625 – Countries are now discussing the details of the draft decision, which – all being well – should be one of the main outcomes of Lima. Here are some tweets on what individual countries make of the text from Greenpeace’s Ruth Davis, who is inside the negotiations.

1615 – It’s so hot here in Lima that the COP presidency has published special advise on how to deal with it in today’s agenda:

“In view of the high temperatures expected to continue and intensify in the second week of the sessions, the President of the COP and CMP invites delegates to adjust to the weather by wearing business casual attire, except for the opening of the high-level segment in the morning of 9 December and the special presidential segment in the morning of 10 December.”

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1545 – It’s been a press conference heavy morning. The important guys are now in the building, and are keen to set out their vision of the 2015 Paris deal.

EU commissionner Cañete took a hard line, saying that Europe would not countenance an outcome from this round of talks that put adaptation and financial commitments on the same legal footing as pledges to reduce emissions. He also said that a binary division between developed and developing countries would not work this time around in the final deal. These are the same lines that the EU was using a week ago, suggesting that, at least publicly, the bloc has not yet softened into compromising mode.

US special envoy for climate change Todd Stern also gave his thoughts on the deal, including clarifying how he would like a review of new pledges to be carried out. He dismissed the idea that the recently announced 2025 target represented a backsliding from the country’s 2009 ambition.

There was also a protest against fossil fuel company Shell, which came to the UN climate talks hoping to deliver an anti-divestment message. Activists flooded into the tiny room where their event was being held, telling them to “Get the FF out” (fossil fuels, obviously).

1531 – Megan Darby has this report from the Shell event, at IETA’s pavilion:

Panel members had to fight their way past activists in “Get the FF out” T-shirts and media with TV cameras to get to the front.
That crowd swiftly evaporated when the event started, to leave a less combative audience.

The subject was carbon capture and storage. Climate economist Nick Stern said thousands of CCS plants are likely to be needed by 2050 as part of an effective strategy to tackle emissions.

The most controversial figure in the mix was Shell climate change adviser David Hone. Campaigners say fossil fuel companies should be excluded from the talks as their businesses depend on continuing high emissions. The companies, on the other hand, argue that with CCS they can be part of the solution.

Hone set out Shell’s two future energy scenarios, which he admitted are not compatible with the UN goal to limit warming to 2C.

1523 – The US pledge to reduce its emissions 26-28% by 2025 does not represent a backsliding in ambition from the 30% target it set in 2009, according to US special envoy on climate change Todd Stern.

“That was never our pledge,” he said, since it was only in a footnote to their formal 2020 target. It was also based upon what the US thought it would be able to achieve with legislation for a carbon market that was pending at the time. But the so-called Waxman-Markey bill was never passed.

He also clarifies the US position on on a review for the intended nationally determined contributions. What the US had proposed was a period where countries, society and the press could analyse emissions reductions targets, which would act as an incentive for every nation to put forward their highest possible level of ambition in order to avoid criticism.

What’s being suggested by some countries now is a formal process of review. The US can support this type of language, he says, “but we don’t need it per se.”

1430 – EU Commissioner for Climate and Energy Miguel Arias Canete has just held his first press conference in Lima. He has taken a firm stance on Europe’s position in the talks, many of which will be unpalatable to developing countries in particular.

“Let’s establish this very clearly: INDCs are for mitigation,” he says. This means that countries’ contributions next year will explicitly exclude language on finance and adaptation.

He also reinforced that the EU will not countenance an agreement that legally differentiates between developed and developing countries. “We do not agree with a rigid interpretation of how to apply this [division]…A more nuanced approach will be necessary,” he says.

He does not appear overjoyed with the progress made during the last week in Lima; his sense is that the process still lacks urgency, and he says he would have liked to have seen more progress on the draft elements text.

1405 – According to journalists at the China briefing this morning, Minister Xie Zhenhua confirmed that the country would submit its intended nationally determined contribution by March 2015.

1349 – Christiana Figueres, head of the UN’s climate body, has just said in a press conference that she is “very confident” that the Green Climate Fund will reach its goal of $10 billion this week in Lima. There is currently $9.95 billion in its coffers, so this doesn’t recommend a massive boost, but it would be a positive round-off to the week.

She is also keen to stress that there are key differences between the two texts that were released by the co-chairs this morning. One – the “elements” text – is generally more interesting to the public and the media, but the deadline for agreeing it is Paris next year.

This means that the attention will be focused on the other text, she says – the “draft decision”. This sets out what information countries need to submit during 2015 ahead of Paris, and it needs to be finalised by Thursday, she says.

COP president Manuel Pulgar Vidal remains optimistic; during the press conference, he praised the “Lima spirit”, which he hopes will be carried forward onto Paris.

1249 – Activists are holding a protest against Shell, who are holding an anti-divestment event here in Lima. Hosted by the International Emissions Trading Association, the tiny venue was flooded with activists protesting the presence of the fossil fuel giant, whose message and activities they do not see as compatible with a safe future for the planet. Here are some tweets from the scene:

1238 – Philippines lead negotiator Mary Ann Lucille Sering brushed off a question about the absence of her colleague Yeb Sano.

“We are already very much nationally represented here in Lima,” she told my colleague Megan Darby at a press conference. “The absence of one is not really a major issue.”

The Philippines is taking over presidency of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, a mutually supportive coalition of 20 countries that face the fiercest effects from climate change. Its people are reeling from the effects of typhoon Hagupit, which translates as “violent lashing”.

12.30 – Sophie here. I’ve just been briefed on the new documents out today by experts from NGOs.

The two new texts released by the co-chairs today are good enough that it could form the basis of the negotiations in Paris, says Ruth Davis from Greenpeace. “There are also some inevitably weak and ugly things in the text,” she says, but adds that it contains elements that most parties can recognise from their own proposals.

She’s particularly pleased that it contains an option to phase out fossil fuels completely by 2050 – it’s up to activists and progressive business to make sure positive ideas like these survive the process of whittling down in Paris, she says.

Harjeet Singh from Action Aid says that adaptation is back in the text “with a vengeance”, which means that it is looking like it will be a much stronger part of the final agreement.

Alden Meyer from the Union of Concerned Scientists points out that the proliferation of new options for how countries should go about their contributions to the new agreement has raised concerns that there may not be consensus on it here in Lima. Parties will also have their work cut out to decide on the commitment period of the contributions – that is, whether countries are forming ten-year or five-year targets.

1140 – Sophie Yeo will be back at 12 to update you on the latest reaction to the draft texts, PLUS we’ll have a report from Megan Darby on how Shell think it can be a part of the solution to climate change later this afternoon.

1130 – There’s (another) important report out today, this time from the London-based Overseas Development Institute (ODI). It’s focused on climate finance. Here’s their initial assessment of how funds are flowing:

Morocco, Mexico, Brazil, South Africa and India are the top beneficiaries, each receiving over half a billion dollars, largely as loans.

The pool of funds available for climate change adaptation is smaller: Bangladesh, Nepal and Niger
have been the most successful low-income countries, each receiving more than $110 million to invest in early warning systems and other resilience enhancing activities.

But some countries have been left behind. Fragile states such as the Ivory Coast and South Sudan, gained much smaller sums – $350,000 and $700,000 – respectively, reflecting the difficulty of spending funds in these environments.

1130 – According to green groups over 100 delegates “stood together for two minutes of silence to show solidarity with the people of the Philippines who are suffering under the lash of Typhoon Hagupit.”

This from Mark Raven at CAN International:

Maria Theresa Nera-Lauron from IBON international in the Philippines said that her country does not want sympathy but action in solidarity. “You cannot talk about sympathy, while at the same time putting us on a path to more devastation – a path that will result in more severe weather events, more severe Bophas and Haiyans and Hagupits. We refuse to become a poster child for devastation and climate impacts. We in the Philippines are not drowning. We are not dying. We are fighting! We are fighting, and we need you to fight with us!”


1120 – Sophie Yeo has an update from negotiations going on this morning regarding these new texts (Remember – we’ll have a wider analysis of this after 1130).

The text they are talking about below is the draft decision for THIS meeting and the one which stipulates what details countries will need to include in any agreement.

Countries have had the opportunity to respond to the new text. Some are concerned over the legal nature: are they still an informal basis for the discussions, or have the been elevated to a formal status? Co-chair Artur Runge-Metzger says it is up for parties to decide how they want to treat the texts. China and Ecuador were both worried about the fact that the draft decision text is clean – that’s to say, it does not present the different views of all the parties in different options, but streamlines everyone’s thoughts.

“What was the criteria used by the co-chairs to decide why some of the proposals had more merit than others?” asks Ecuador. Runge-Metzger adds that he does not expect that parties will reach consensus over the elements of the new Paris deal here in Lima; this is something that will have to be worked on over the next 12 months. The draft decision, which includes what countries will put forward in their contributions, must be decided here, he stresses.

1110 – Mixed progress on efforts to protect forests at the Lima climate talks. Yesterday eight Latin American countries said they would aim to restore 20 million hectares of land to forest by 2020. You can read more on that story here.

Donald Lehr, an observer in Lima following forests says there has also been a new deal struck between Norway and Germany and Ecuador and Colombia. This, he says, is “for economic support under the REDD Early Movers (REM) program to reward both Ecuador and Colombia for the results they may achieve in reducing deforestation and respecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

The bad news? Discussions on the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Land Degradation (REDD+) collapsed on Friday, with no conclusions on the need for further guidance on Safeguards Information Systems.

1100 – The other text out today, the Draft COP decision proposed by the Co-Chairs, is also significantly longer than its previous incarnation. This is an important document as it details what countries “intended nationally determined contributions” (INDCs) will need to include.

1050 – One of the two current co-chairs of the UN talks, a German called Artur Runge-Metzger, has told countries they must show “courage” at this meeting. He’s just addressed national delegates – here’s what he had to say:

“You will notice that this document attempts to reflect your work on the elements for a draft negotiating text. It builds on your constructive engagement and it aims for providing more clarity, convergency, and I think that should lead in the longer term to compromise, if you have the right courage for that.

“We note that it is work in progress. The elements for a draft negotiating text neither indicate convergence on the proposals nor does it preclude new proposals emerging in the course of the negotiations in 2015. In that way, we tried to give comfort to each of you in the room to make sure your ideas, your proposals are accurately reflected.

“It is for you to decide on how to take your work forward here in Lima and into 2015.”

1045 – Detailed talks on what commitments countries should make towards a global climate deal will start at 1500 today, says a UN official.

1040 – Anyone walking into the conference centre today will be greeted by a line of campaigners, standing “in solidarity” with the Philippines.

1035 – The draft text on a 2015 climate deal that has been released today is 33 pages; that’s 9 longer than the previous version. More on this at 1130 when the major green groups will present their findings.

1030 – As RTCC reported last week, there will shortly be two new co-chairs running negotiations on the 2015 climate agreement. They’re from the US and Algeria, and are (surprise surprise) both men. What happened to the UN’s great push on gender? Names and positions below:

-Ahmed Djoghlaf, Ambassador and Advisor to the cabinet in the Algerian ministry of Foreign Affairs
-Daniel A Reifsnyder, deputy assistant secretary for environment in the US State Department

Reifsnyder’s an interesting choice. Apparently popular among many delegates, he last chaired a turbulent set of talks on long-term ambition that concluded in 2011. He has also recently written a thesis on US influence at the UN climate talks, but I imagine this won’t be publically available for a while yet.

1020 – A few headlines from the Carbon Action Tracker study I mentioned below:

– Current policy proposals suggest global warming of 3.9C, almost 4C by 2100
– Promises and pledges by EU, US and China would reduce it to between 2.9 and 3.1C
– Most of that is driven by China’s demands. US + EU on similar trajectory
– China’s greenhouse gases likely to peak at 15 gigatonnes in 2030

Climate Analytics

1010 – This just in from the team at the Carbon Action Tracker, a group of scientists based primarily in Germany.

0950 – As I mentioned earlier a new draft text has been released by the UN. You can read the full version here. I’ve taken a screen grab of the various options it lists for how countries could cut their greenhouse gas emissions. It’s interesting to see references to a possible global decarbonisation by 2050 still in there.

Text 8_12

And green groups seem chuffed the 2050 target has survived:

0945 – RTCC’s Sophie Yeo has been speaking to Ronnie Jumeau. He’s the lead official here from the Seychelles, and an influential member of the Alliance of Small Island States, a negotiating group at the talks. He says he wants more action on climate compensation, otherwise known as loss and damage.

0935 – Aside from the press conferences outlined above – there are a few other events taking place today we’ll be following.

1030 – Launch of the Climate Change Performance Index by analysts at Germanwatch.
1230 – Shell will explain how it can be part of a low carbon future
1500 – EU’s chief climate official to outline long-term strategy

0930 – All delegates are being asked by civil society groups to observe a minute’s silence “in solidarity with people affected by climate change.” This has been sparked by the typhoon in the Philippines, which led to the evacuation of nearly one million people. More on that story here.

0925 – China’s lead negotiator Xie Zhenhua is making a speech at the Chinese Pavilion at the moment. RTCC’s Megan Darby will have the news from that later. But it looks like he’s making a case for greater South-South cooperation.

0920 – Welcome to day 7 of UN climate talks in Lima, Peru. I’m Ed King and I’ll be taking you through to midday as the high-level section of these negotiations gets underway.

In the past two hours a new draft text has been released by the UN, outlining a possible package for a 2015 agreement. Sophie Yeo will offer some analysis on that shortly.

Today we will hear from senior US, EU, Brazil, UN and Chinese officials. There may also be an intervention from India. More on that later.


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