There’s a deal, finally, out of the latest, exhaustive negotiating sessions from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change: “The Lima Call for Climate Action.” What does it say? It, for one thing, requires all parties to the convention to submit their plans for reducing emissions. These climate action plans, called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), are due in the first quarter of 2015. They will form the basis for the final agreement to come from Paris a year from now.
Depending on who you listen to, the conference was a success or a failure or somewhere in between. Jennifer Morgan, for instance, the climate director for the World Resources Institute said: “In the coming months, countries must propose their climate action plans and hammer out the details of the core agreement. Momentum has been growing for global climate action, with the US, China, and EU putting their emissions targets on the table early. Now others countries need to step up to the plate.” Alden Meyer, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists was quoted in the NY Times: “It’s the bare minimum of what we need, but we can work with it to get the pressure on.” Going to the most dismissive end of the spectrum, Sam Smith, climate chief for the WWF, quoted by the BBC here, said: “The text went from weak to weaker to weakest and it’s very weak indeed.”
These groups and many others will be analyzing the submissions of the parties as they roll in over the coming months. China, the US and the EU already are on record for relatively strong commitments. Let’s hope that key nations, like India, Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa, and Japan, among others, will announce some big, helpful numbers in the coming months.
Nobody is holding their breath for anything useful from Canada, Australia, Russia or the OPEC nations. We simply have to break the back of Big Oil and Big Coal by decarbonizing our assets, globally, at an accelerated pace; reducing deforestation and land degradation; and starting to think more about livestock’s role in the global environmental crisis we are in now. (More about meat, and fish for that matter, from me in coming months. There’s plenty to say, not nearly enough of which is being broadcast. But don’t wait for me. Check out this terrific documentary if you want to get up to speed quickly: Cowspiracy.)
Neither should any of us wait for the UNFCCC to deliver the goods. As I noted in my previous post, Hermann Scheer wanted us to act, every day and in every way we can. As John Kerry said earlier in the week at the conference, “But the fact is we simply don’t have time to sit around going back and forth about whose responsibility it is to act. Pretty simple, folks: It’s everyone’s responsibility, because it’s the net amount of carbon that matters, not each country’s share.”
Still, there is positive momentum from Lima and we can use that too. There’s a lot more to say about the outcome of the talks in Lima and what’s going to come out of the submissions from the parties, as well as the provisions for finance, adaptation, technology transfer and the like. There’s a lot more to do. There’s another, new information resource to see what cities, companies and others are doing.