LIVE IN LIMA – DAY 9: UN COP20 climate change summit



Latest headlines

– Austria, Peru and Colombia contribute to Green Climate Fund
– Al Gore makes a poetic entrance

Some Chinese cities will peak emissions next year – Xie
– An estimated 20,000 marchers in Lima demand climate action
– Bangladesh: Poor nations expect too much climate aid from west
– 4 issues to resolve before gavel falls on UN climate deal

2000 – It’s the end of the second high level day, and negotiators are still beavering away on what it now an extremely long text, full of red writing and brackets.

They have agreed to reach a decision by tomorrow, but at the pace things are currently going this looks difficult.

US envoy Todd Stern still seemed confident, however, and the presence of ministers could help to give the process the vital push it needs.

They may also take heed of the march that passed through Lima today, which proved that civil society was behind the talks. Upwards of 15,000 people were estimated to have taken part.

1835 – The issue of differentiated responsibilities for rich and poor countries in the new UN climate agreement was a key issue in the high level ministerial today.

China’s Xie Zhenhua said that there must be “no rewriting of the Convention” – that’s UN lingo for saying that the official annexes that divide developed and developing countries should stay in place, which means that they could end up carrying different burdens from 2020 with regards to tackling climate change.

But Todd Stern from the US said that there was more convergence between the world’s largest emitters than had perhaps appeared, saying that they had found a way to agree on their common but differentiated responsibilities.

“Some are acting as if this basic principle of the Convention is threatened with extinction. This is completely untrue,” he said.

New Zealand questioned the veracity of the whole debate, suggesting that countries would fall into place naturally: “Is the heat that has been generated on this really worth the effort?” the minister asked.

1810 – There are three Fossil of the Day awards today, highlighting which countries activists groups here in Lima think have performed worst. These go to:
– US and Japan, who tried to delete references to adaptation and loss and damage in the Lima decision text
– Poland, for proposing a range of coal projects are part of a new €EU 300 billion stimulus package
– Venezuela, for stating “the problem of climate change is not because of the production of petrol, but for the irrational use of it.”

1805 – President Manuel Pulgar Vidal has released a new proposal on loss and damage, which if adopted would approve the two-year work plan put forward by the committee, and give delegates from small island states and least developed countries permanent responsibility for overseeing its business.

1758 – For Ecuadorian environment minister Lorena Tapia, these talks are all about getting action from rich countries, which she says are not stepping up to their responsibilities.

“These negotiations are still showing lack of commitment that most actors have. They are evading responsibilities and they want to translate it to poor countries. We are still discussing what it means to assume responsibilities when that should not be a matter of discussion because they have identified their responsibility in the convention on climate change,” she says.

“This is not a technical issue; it is also a political issue. If we continue being indifferent we will not get any result. I hope in the next days we can have minimal results from what we are here to demand.”

1700 – Back at the negotiations, Brazil has been touting a way to overcome the firewall between rich and poor countries that has held up progress. It is proposing more levels of responsibility – an idea named “concentric differentiation”.

Minister Izabella Teixeira said: “We must ensure that previous commitments are safeguarded and that developed countries are taking the lead in the global effort against climate change, while allowing developing countries to gradually assume further obligations, in accordance with their development circumstances.”

1638 – Friends of the Earth are estimating 20,000 people were at the people’s climate march today. See more pictures here.

1555 – The World Resources Institute has examined the US emissions cutting pledges. The goals suggest it will have to cut greenhouse gas emissions 1.2% a year to 2020 and  2.3-2.8% in the following five years, it found.

1548 – Bangladeshi climate expert Saleemul Huq tells the RTCC TV studio he’s confident that there will be progress on moves to accelerate efforts to work on loss and damage in Lima. He also hopes there will be more finance on the table from developed countries… “there is a long history of rich countries promising money and not delivering”, he says. “How they’re going to get from $10 billion now to the $100 billion promises by 2020 is not clear – history suggests they’re not going to be able to do it.”

1545 – Harjeet Singh, an adaptation expert from ActionAid, says poorer countries have “valid concerns” relating to there lack of financial help they are being offered to address rising sea levels and other extreme weather events. “We are trying to assess loss and damage… productivity of crops are going down, salinity in soil is rising. We need to explore what is beyond adaptation.”

1544 – John Kerry will be at the Lima talks for just two to three hours, where he will “pretty briefly” give remarks on the US commitment to tackling climate change.

He will not get involved in the negotiations, said Todd Stern, addressing reporters in a press conference.

Neither should anyone expect a grand announcement in the style of the pact with China when Obama visits India next month, said Stern.

The joint announcement alongside Xi Jinping was the product of almost a year of negotiations. There has not been a similar process taking place with the Indian government, he said.

Inside the UN talks, Stern said he was not too concerned yet about the slow pace of the negotiations, which he said was usual at this stage in the game. One branch, the draft elements text, is “basically done”, he said.

1538 – Greenpeace has apologised for a separate demonstration, reports AP, after the Peruvian government accused them of damaging a world heritage site. Earlier this week, they had laid out a message promoting clean energy at the Nazca lines, near Lima.

1527 – The organisers estimate 15,000 people turned out for the climate march in Lima today. Here they are in the main square.

(Pic: 350/Jamie Henn)

(Pic: 350/Jamie Henn)

COP20-Newsflash copy
1520 – Welcome to RTCC’s live coverage of day 9 of UN climate talks in Lima. Here are the latest headlines:
– Greens criticise Austria for pledging just US$25m to Green Climate Fund
– Bangladesh minister: don’t be too hard on rich countries
– Thousands march through Lima to call for climate action
– Some Chinese cities are targeting peak emissions next year – Xie

1427 – Bangladesh’s environment minister Anwar Hossain Manju swayed from the usual rhetoric of poor countries in a press conference just now.

“We are probably expecting too much from the industrialised and developed countries, because today all countries are suffering from social, political, economic problems,” he said.

Statements from the poorest, most vulnerable countries normally consist of demands for more action and finance on the part of the rich countries, which bear an historical responsibility for climate change.

The other Bangladeshi officials on the panel attempted to backtrack. “We are not giving up,” said MP Hasan Mahmud, adding that the minister spoke out of “frustration” at the delay of developed countries in delivering on their responsibilities.

Abdul Momen, Bangladesh’s ambassador to the UN, added that they certainly weren’t satisfied with the $10 billion delivered into the Green Climate Fund. “It’s peanuts,” he said. He wants the whole sum to be spent in the coming year, with more money forthcoming after that.

But Manju said that problems such as war and unemployment had taken up a great deal of resources in rich countries.

“It’s not a question of expecting anything particularly from any country or organisation,” he said. “Our approach is let us put our hands into our pockets and see how much we can afford. No country can do everything.”

1339 – Austria will pledge $25 million to the Green Climate Fund this afternoon, I’ve just been told by Christiane Brunner, an MP for the country’s Green Party.

But she’s not happy with the pledge, which relatively adds up to around a fifth of the German pledge of one billion euros. With an economy just over one tenth of the size of Germany’s, she would like to have seen a pledge of around $100 million at least – and maybe more, considering that Austria has a higher GDP per capita.

“I think it is a shame because Austria is a rich country and we have to do more,” said Brunner to RTCC. “We as Greens demanded $100 million. That would be a fair share in a country like Austria. They have to come up with a higher amount of money.”

1319 – Germany has pledged €50m to the Adaptation Fund – the “little cousin” of the Green Climate Fund. This particular fund is already succeeding in supporting adaptation projects on the ground, but needs more money in order to undertake further work.

“That makes new German pledge very welcome – yes, it is not the billions the GCF has attracted, but it keeps the Adaptation Fund going,” said Jan Kowalzig from Oxfam Germany.

“This means real adaptation action on the ground, but is also helps these difficult negotiations given the political significance of this fund. Let’s hope the German pledge raises pressure on other countries to not let the Adaptation Fund dry up.”

1302 – Ed King has just been at an event where Laurence Tubiana, France’s ambassador for climate negotiations, has been speaking. France hosts the 2015 conference where any agreement on curbing emissions is set to be signed, and it is playing a key role here behind the scenes. Tubiana said France and Peru would work closely until next December, and had warm praise for Manuel Pulgar Vidal, the current president of the talks.

She also expressed optimism that current faults in the talks would be resolved, but admitted not everything may be resolved by the end of this week.

“Some issues will not be resolved here, but it’s fair enough, if they are too big it’s about changing the real ambition of the whole world. But we can have clarity. On the elements text I think we will have draft, and I think it will be reasonable enough so we can negotiate effectively on February 8. And we have an excellent presidency, very skilful,” she said.

1223 – Here are some photos and and tweets from today’s march through Lima.

1219 – The presidents of Peru and Chile have just signed an agreement to work together on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

1149 – EU climate commissions Miguel Arias Cañete portrayed a slightly softer stance at a press conference just now.

After his hard line on a mitigation-only agreement earlier this week, he admitted that adaptation and finance would have to be important parts of the deal, and that this was of the “utmost importance” to many parties here who are already experiencing the impacts of climate change.

He confirmed that the EU was still pushing for a 10-year commitment period “in principle”, but that he recognised that there were other opinions being put forward and that other nations had different planning requirements domestically to Europe.

But he was still disappointed by the pace of discussions, and seemed particularly flummoxed by the steadily expanding text, which now fills 52 pages – 40 more than at the beginning of the week. “It is now high time to pick up pace,” he said.

1137 – Megan Darby has been at the China pavilion, where minister Xie Zhenhua spoke about the need to make sure growing cities develop in low carbon ways.

Some Chinese cities are on track to peak their emissions as early as next year, he said, making the national goal of 2030 achievable.
Xie was joined by Al Gore, who quoted poets from China, Spain and the US in a speech full of optimism for a global climate deal.

Andrew Steer from WRI set out how compact cities with good public transport are better for the economy and quality of life, as well as the environment. Lima wastes 8% of its GDP sitting in traffic while they could be making money, he said – a figure that will not surprise any of the delegates out here.

Full story to follow.

1110 – Peru and Colombia have both committed $6 million to the Green Climate Fund. EU Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete called Peru’s contribution “important”. Both are developing countries so are under no obligation to provide money.

1047 – Al Gore is in the building.

1045 – By 2040, 30% of people in the Horn of Africa could be displaced due to rising populations, poor living conditions and climate change.

This is just one area where populations may have to move in large numbers in order to protect their lives and livelihoods and storms, droughts and floods increase.

“Disaster related displacement affects tens of millions of people over the world,” said Justin Ginnetti from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center in a press conference.

He added that 22 million people were displaced in 2013, and around 140 million since 2008. The risk of displacement has quadrupled since 1970.

“As climate change unfolds, more people will be affected by extreme weather,” said Koko Warner from the United Nations University. “We need to ensure that when these people move they do so with safety and dignity.”

0942 – In fifteen minutes, activists will start marching through Lima in what organisers say will be the biggest climate march in Latin America. Different groups will be represented in blocks, including indigenous peoples, trade unions, environmental groups, women’s rights groups, student organisations, and culture groups. It will end with a rally and speeches.

0938 – COP21 in Paris has launched its official Twitter account. It’s less than 24 hours old and it already has a blue tick. You can follow it at @COP21.

0830 – Welcome to RTCC’s live coverage of the UN climate talks in Lima, as they roll on into day 9. Negotiations on what commitments countries could make to a global emissions cutting agreement wrapped up at 9pm last night, officially anyway. Informal talks continued well into the night. With three days to go until this meeting is supposed to conclude, pressure is starting to mount.

We’ll have the latest on those talks, plus updates from a packed day of press conferences and side events. Today we’ll hear from the EU, Chile, US, Ethiopia, Ecuador, Bangladesh, Peru. Sophie Yeo will cover those press events. And we should also get a glimpse of China’s plans to green its cities – the Beijing government is hosting a special day of talks focused on what the country is doing to cut air pollution.

As ever you can get in touch with the team – our email, Facebook and twitter handles are listed above.

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