Behind the scenes of international climate policies, something big is lingering. This was my first thought after reading COP20 conclusions, The Lima Call for Action Change – and I guess many others did the same. Last December, the Conference of Parties gathered for the twentieth time since 1992 in Lima, Perù, by setting two main goals that were supposed to be reached at the end of the meeting: to define a first sketched agreement for Paris 2015 negotiations and to present a formal decision about the so called INDC (Intended Nationally Determined Contribution, which basically are the maximum emissions’ cuts that every country is supposed to undertake).
Looking at the bright side, positive news for climate after cop20 are the following:
- The Green Fund: to encourage undeveloped and developing countries to adopt ambitious actions against climate change, a green fund was activated. Resources have been collected for 10 billions of dollars, although the discussion focused more on the entity of the fund than on the effective plans to use it.
- There has been a visible and growing dialogue between developing and developed countries, especially between BRICS and Western powers.
- An executive committee and a starting plan were set up in order to deal with the problem of Loss&Damages. The aim was to support those countries that have been affected by climate change. The final document does not include a binding disposition on this point, tough.
- All countries committed in including environmental topics in their educative policies.
Still, many comments address last COP’s conclusions as totally weak and disappointing. Thing is, international conferences usually proceed at a very slow pace, considered the urgency of the issue. Unfortunately, agreements between such different countries and policies have to deal with a mixture of untangled faults and heavy responsibilities that are rooted in the past and present history of nations. Important decisions require time to be taken and minds need even more time to be changed. But – let me use a simple and common slogan – regardless human social and political times for change, action has to be fostered now. Now, before climate change effects on our own lives become that blatant that even those who pretend not to see, will be forced to open their eyes wide.
Paris 2015 will be the next meeting. The 30th November seems to be an extremely close and scaring deadline. Why is Paris so important? Because current commitments on greenhouse gas emissions run out in 2020, so this year governments are expected to produce a real agreement on what happens for the decade after that at least, and potentially beyond. We are now in the midst of a series of meetings in the run-up to the conference. In July, scientists hold a meeting where they reiterate their warnings: we are very close to pass the 2°C threshold beyond which global warming becomes irreversible and catastrophic.
Here are three Cop20 conclusions that should definitely be renegotiated at COP21 – more seriously, this time-.
- Emissions: it is necessary to have new promises coming from the biggest emitters. We know already what they have committed to. The EU will cut its emissions by 40%, compared with 1990 levels, by 2030. The US will cut its emissions by 26% to 28%, compared with 2005 levels, by 2025. China will agree that its emissions will peak by 2030. These decisions should be binding.
- Since we already know that the commitments made are not enough to hold the world temperature to no more than 2C warming, two different approaches have been suggested: first, more effort should be made to bring down emissions outside the UN process, for instance by engaging “non-state actors” such as cities, local governments and businesses to do more; secondly, that the INDCs should be subject to regular review and racketing up in the years after the Paris meeting.
- Another contentious issue is finance. Poorer countries would like the rich ones to provide with financial support in order to enable them to invest with green technologies and cut their greenhouse gas emissions. An agreement on how this could be done is necessary: some want the money to come from national and public purse, while richer countries invest international development banks with the responsibility of doing so.
There will be one further week of negotiations, in October, before the Paris meeting agrees on a definitive resolution. There is still so much work to be done on the text. This December don’t miss this COP’s evolution by following it on social channels -#COP21- and through the official website www.cop21paris.org.