12 days of Lima talks but still no significant decisions

Calls for climate change to be treated as a human rights issue have been made repeatedly here at the Lima Talks. (Photo: Petre Williams-Raynor)
Calls for climate change to be treated as a human rights issue have been made repeatedly here at the Lima Talks. (Photo: Petre Williams-Raynor)

We are now 12 days into the Lima Climate Talks and yet there is no clear sign of any significant progress toward a new international agreement on climate change.

This is despite valiant efforts to the contrary, including an impassioned speech from United States Secretary of State John Kerry, which made it clear Thursday that the issue of climate change “should be personal to everyone” and that “the science of climate change is science and it is screaming at us to act”.

However, the slow going aside, small island developing states (SIDS) are refusing to leave empty handed.

So what has been decided? Well, there appears to be agreement on the elements that should form the decision text, namely: finance; mitigation; adaptation; capacity building; transparency; and technology transfer.

The problem is deciding on ‘the what’ of each of these elements and the precise wording/language for same.

“We need some specifics now,” one negotiator from the developing world told Environment Etc. “And people are regurgitating the same thing over and over again. No matter how we push, we keep getting a push back.”

“But this is our time that we must have an outcome in Paris,” he added.

A significant part of the foundation, the negotiator insisted, must be laid here in Lima.

Among other things, SIDS are pushing for clear and quantifiable financing in the decision text that is to form the basis of the new agreement next year — especifically for things like adaptation and loss and damage.

Others from the developing and least developed world are lobbying, too, for specific financial provisions related to their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), which are country commitments to cutting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Up to Wednesday night, information was that a more than 58-page draft decision text was in hand, but parties wanted that cut down to reflect essential outcomes.

A new draft should have been ready this morning and parties are to do a stock taking to determine next steps. We will see how that goes.

Meanwhile, there have been some small victories for SIDS and other developing country parties here.

One of those has to do with securing representation on the committee looking at the Warsaw Mechanism for Loss and Damage. They are to have three representatives on that committee, one from the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), and two from the Group of Latin America and the Caribbean (GRULAC).

Also, there is an agreement that next year, the issue of capacity building support for developing countries is to be pursued, ahead of the Paris talks.

On the issue of gender, there are still some provisional elements in the text; elements that call for gender equality. Those stakeholders following gender would have liked for this to go further, but are satisfied that at least gender remains in play.


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