The UN climate talks in Lima, Peru (formally known as COP20), were scheduled to run from December 1 to December 12. However, nations have clashed over the final language of the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP), a draft text for the Paris 2015 agreement, which has sent the negotiations into overtime.
Adoption of the ADP is crucial for members of the COP20. It acknowledges the “significant gap between the aggregate effect of Parties’ mitigation pledges in terms of global annual emissions of greenhouse gases by 2020 and aggregate emission pathways consistent with having a likely chance of holding the increase in global average temperature above 2°C or 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.” As such, it lays out steps that need to be taken by all parties for reducing these emissions.
The final draft text was released on Friday after more than six hours of delay. Today, the member countries have separated into camps, those who oppose the text and those who accept it. The COP20 is now gridlocked.
Notably, the planet’s two largest polluters, China and the U.S., are at odds with the ADP, despite making a joint-pledge to take action on their carbon emissions last month. China rejects the current ADP language, arguing that it puts too much pressure on poor and developing countries to limit their emissions. Meanwhile, Todd Stern, the U.S. Climate Change Envoy, has asked his fellow delegates to accept the text as a compromise. Reuters reports that Stern has urged its adoption to avoid the Lima talks being considered a “major breakdown” and diminishing the credibility of the UN.
Developing nations are disappointed that the text does little to urge donations by richer nations to the Green Climate Fund, a $100 billion initiative to help the nations most vulnerable to climate change adapt their infrastructures accordingly. The European Union and Russia, meanwhile, are fine with the text as-is.
“We are very close,” said Peruvian Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, the host of the negotiations. “We know that we will need your flexibility. Let us work together.”
Environmental critics have been less sunny in their forecasts. Meena Raman, of the Third World Network, said at a press conference, “This bottom-up process [of countries setting their own pledges] which is trying to be locked in at Lima would be a disaster for the planet and the poor.”
She later added, “We don’t see [the] Lima outcome as fair, equitable, or even balanced.”
The Daily Kos reports that climate activists staged “die-ins” as the talks wore on yesterday to symbolize the severity of the political roadblock.
“We are already suffering massive devastation, loss of lives, and displacement of communities, with just 0.8 degrees of warming,” said Gerry Arances of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice. “Science is saying it still possible to limit warming to below 1.5 degrees which is the absolute limit we can accept. Even that will mean far worse consequences for our people than what they are already experiencing. But governments are no longer talking about a global goal. This outcome in Lima is unacceptable to the people of Asia.”