Bonn – Governments are preparing to meet for the UN Climate Change Conference in Lima starting today (December 01-12, 2015) to lay the foundation for an effective new, universal climate change agreement in Paris in 2015 while also raising immediate ambition to act on climate change in advance of the agreement coming into effect in 2020.
The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has this year warned against rising sea levels, storms and droughts as a result of unchecked greenhouse gas emissions, and highlighted the many opportunities of taking climate action.
Last week, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) underscored the need for global emissions to peak within the decade and then to rapidly decline so that the world can reach climate neutrality – also termed zero net emissions – in the second half of the century. (Read Global Carbon Neutrality Should be Reached by Second Half of Century)
Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Climate Convention, said, “Never before have the risks of climate change been so obvious and the impacts so visible. Never before have we seen such a desire at all levels of society to take climate action. Never before has society had all the smart policy and technology resources to curb greenhouse gas emissions and build resilience. All of this means we can be confident we will have a productive meeting in Lima, which will lead to an effective outcome in Paris next year.”
In Lima, governments meeting under the “Ad Hoc Work Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action” (ADP) need to define the scope and the type of contributions they will provide to the Paris agreement, along with clarity on how finance, technology and capacity building will be handled.
Countries will put forward what they plan to contribute to the 2015 agreement in the form of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) by the first quarter of 2015, well in advance of the Paris conference in December of next year.
The Lima conference needs to provide final clarity on what the INDCs need to contain, including for developing countries who are likely to have a range of options from, for example, sector-wide emission curbs to energy intensity goals.
“It is hugely encouraging that well ahead of next year’s first quarter deadline, countries have already been outlining what they intend to contribute to the Paris agreement. This is also a clear sign that countries are determined to find common ground and maximize the potential of international cooperation,” she said. “Countries are working hard to increase emissions reductions before 2020, when the Paris agreement is set to enter into effect. Pathways on how to accomplish this will also be a key issue before nations in Lima,” she added.
Governments need to work towards streamlining elements of a draft agreement for Paris 2015 and explore common ground on unresolved issues in order to achieve a balanced, well-structured, coherent draft for the next round of work on the text in February next year.
In addition to progress made to date towards a Paris agreement, the political will of countries to provide climate finance is increasingly coming to the fore.
At a recent pledging conference held in Berlin, Germany, countries made pledges towards the initial capitalization of the Green Climate Fund totalling nearly US $ 9.3 billion. Subsequent pledges took this figure to US $ 9.6 billion, so that the US $ 10 billion milestone is within reach.
“This shows that countries are determined to build trust and to provide the finance that developing countries need to move forward towards decarbonising their economies and building resilience,” Ms. Figueres said.
In the course of the 2014, governments have been exploring how to raise immediate climate ambition in areas with the greatest potential to curb emissions, ranging from renewable energy to cities.
As part of the “Lima Action Agenda”, countries will decide how to maintain and accelerate cooperation on climate change by all actors, including those flowing from the Climate Summit in September, where many climate action pledges were made.
“We have seen an amazing groundswell of momentum building this year. One of the main deliverables of the Lima conference will be ways to build on this momentum and further mobilize action across all levels of society. Society-wide action in concert with government contributions to the Paris agreement are crucial to meet the agreed goal of limiting global temperature rise to less than two degrees Celsius, and to safeguard this and future generations,” Ms. Figueres said.