Lima climate summit extended as poor countries demand more from rich
Climate talks in Lima ran into extra time amid rising frustration from developing countries at the “ridiculously low” commitments from rich countries to help pay for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.
The talks – originally scheduled to wrap up at 12pm after 10 days – are now expected to run well into Saturday , as negotiators huddle over a new draft text many glimpsed for the first time only morning.
The Lima negotiations began on a buoyant note after the US, China and the EU came forward with new commitments to cut carbon pollution. But they were soon brought back down to earth over the perennial divide between rich and poor countries in the negotiations: how should countries share the burden for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, and who should pay?
The talks were designed to draft a blueprint for a global deal to fight climate change, due to be adopted in Paris late next year. But developing countries argued that before signing on they needed to see greater commitments that the industrialised countries would keep to their end of a bargain to provide the money needed to fight climate change. After 10 days of talks, developing countries argued that those assurances were not strong enough.
By midweek, a little over $10bn had been raised for a green climate fund, intended to help poor countries invest in clean energy technology. That was below the initial target of $15bn and many of those funds will be distributed over several years.
It was also unclear how industrialised countries could be held to an earlier promise to mobilise $100bn a year for climate finance by 2020, negotiators from developing countries said. “We are disappointed,” said India’s Prakash Javadekar. “It is ridiculous. It is ridiculously low.” Javadekar said the pledges to the green climate fund amounted to backsliding. “We are upset that 2011, 2012, 2013 – three consecutive years – the developed world provided $10bn each year for climate action support to the developing world, but now they have reduced it. Now they are saying $10bn is for four years, so it is $2.5bn,” he said.
he frustration – with the lack of climate finance as well as other aspects of the draft text – was widespread among developing countries, especially those in the gravest danger from climate change.
There have been more than 20 years of Conference of the Parties (CoP) meetings, such as those at Lima, with little in the way of concrete outcomes, said Ahmed Sareer, the Maldivian negotiator who is about to take over the leadership of the Alliance of Small Island States.
“How many CoPs will it take for us to really see any tangible results? We have been going from CoP to CoP and every time we are given so many assurances, and expectations are raised, but the gaps are getting wider,” he said.
“There has been a clear commitment of $100bn a year but how are we really being offered? Even when they make those pledges how do we know how much is going to materialise? There is no point of knowing that behind the wall there is a big source of funds available unless we can reach it,” he said.
“We are told it is there in a nice show case, but we don’t get to meet it. We don’t get to access it. These are difficult issues for us.”
The seven-page draft text under discussion so far remains in a very raw state, with negotiators asked to choose between three options on virtually every major issue of contention.
But the multiple-choice format makes it evident that the old fault lines between rich and poor countries remain.
In addition to finance, one of the biggest areas of contentious is “differentiation” in UN parlance – which countries should bear the burden of cutting emissions that cause climate change.
The US and other industrialised countries require all countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
That would be a departure from the original UN classification of the 1990s – which absolved China, India and other developing countries which are now major carbon polluters – of cutting their emissions.
Developing countries are suspicious that the text being developed in Lima is an attempt to rewrite those old guidelines.
“I am certain that developing countries the majority of them will have a problem with the way they framed responsibility. Most developing countries will be concerned about that,” said Tasneem Essop, head of strategy for WWF.
Countries are also divided over the initial commitments countries are expected to make on fighting climate change – known as “intended nationally determined contributions”.
Rich countries, including the US, only want to commit to carbon cuts. Developing countries want those commitments to include finance for climate adaptation.
The rich-poor divide also holds over the issue of monitoring the scale of those commitments – with China, India and other countries opposed to outside review.