What will COP 20 in Lima deliver?

What will COP 20 in Lima deliver?

COP 20 – the 20th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change began in Lima, Peru, on December 1, 2014. It is a crucial step on the way to COP 21 in Paris next year, where it is hoped that a binding and universal agreement on limiting the effects of climate change can be reached. SmartEarth Managing Director, Noel Casserly, who previously acted as Head of the Irish delegation at UN negotiations in Cancun, Durban and Doha writes about the expectations of developing countries, particularly in Africa, and what might be delivered in Lima.
UN Climate talks began in Lima at COP 20 this week and over the next two weeks negotiators from almost 200 countries must make progress on the shape of a new binding global agreement on curbing greenhouse gas emissions. The agreement will be finalized in Paris at the end of next year and it will need to limit warming to below 2C, beyond which scientists say climate-related impacts could become dangerous and potentially irreversible.
With the latest reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) affirming the continuing warming of the global temperatures, Africa continues to bear the severest brunt of the climate change impacts while being the continent that has contributed least to this problem. For Africa and other developing regions of the world, climate change is a threat to economic growth, food security, long-term prosperity, and it is also associated with an increase in natural disasters as well as the survival of already vulnerable populations.
At the opening session in Lima on 1st December, Dr. Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, the chairperson of the IPCC, warned that the window of opportunity to act on climate change is soon closing and any further delay will make the response to Climate Change too late and too expensive for humanity. Failure will condemn developing countries and the extremely poor African peasant farmers to another unchecked generation of suffering extreme weather, frequent floods, droughts and crop failures.
Africa faces critical challenges in the agriculture sector. Statistics from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) show that Africa is home to close to 30% of the world’s arable land, and agriculture remains the dominant sector in many African economies, employing 70% of the work force. It also accounts for over 30% of the continent’s GDP, generating over 50% of export earnings. Yet it remains the least productive and least invested-in sector. As a result, a third of Africans are malnourished, with climate change placing an additional stress on an already fragile agriculture system.
The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), the continental coalition of civil society groups, is well represented in Lima with a delegation of 33 tracking the negotiations. PACJA stresses that there should be no compromise on the demand that industrialized countries compensate affected communities and countries for the full costs of avoiding damage, and lost opportunities for development resulting from climate change.
Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, at the opening of the Lima Conference, highlighted four critical lines of action for a successful outcome in Lima:
• bring a draft of a new, universal climate change agreement to the table and clarifying how national contributions will be communicated next year
• consolidate progress on adaptation to achieve political parity with mitigation, given the equal urgency of both
• enhance the delivery of finance, in particular to the most vulnerable, and
• stimulate ever-increasing action on the part of all stakeholders to scale up the scope and accelerate the necessary solutions.
PACJA, like many others, has highlighted the importance of making progress on climate finance at the COP in Lima. PACJA says additional commitment is needed from developed countries in providing US$ 100 billion by 2020, as well as making substantial progress on the text of the binding Paris agreement at the Lima meeting.
Recent donations to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) amounting to US$9.7 billion have raised hopes the UN-backed body will be able to play a key role in helping leverage investment climate change adaptation and mitigation in poor countries. But this is far short of the 2020 goal of $100 billion a year promised by rich nations in Copenhagen in 2009, leaving many doubtful if this target can be met.
According to Oxfam, the US, EU and Japan must radically increase their levels of climate aid to keep the planet on a pathway below 2C. The US has already offered $3 billion to the GCF, Japan $1.5 billion and leading European states over $4 billion. But in a report published in advance of COP 20, Oxfam says the US should provide 56% of all financial flows to help countries embrace green growth – amounting to billions more than is currently on the table. Oxfam says the EU should offer 22% and Japan 10%, while Brazil, Korea, Mexico, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait should also offer funds, say the study’s authors. Oxfam estimates that Sub-Saharan Africa alone requires $62 billion a year to adapt to changing climatic conditions.
Africa is more and more adopting a trans-continental approach is the climate negotiations with a stronger and more effective coordination and collaboration amongst African negotiators as well as the important voice of African civil society represented by PACJA.
In addition, the African Development Bank (AfDB) increasingly plays a key role as financier, partner and advisor to African countries to assist them in climate smart development, as well as gaining access to available resources and capitalizing on future financing opportunities.
The AfDB, under its Climate Change Action Plan, aims to invest up to US $10 billion between 2011 and 2015; these resources are drawn from the AfDB’s own internal funding, bilateral trust funds and climate finance instruments such as the Climate Investments Funds, the Global Environment Facility, the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa, Clim-Dev Special Fund, the new Africa Climate Change Fund and the Congo Basin Forest Fund. The AfDB’s investment in climate-smart projects for the period 2011 to 2013 is US $5.2 billion and the hence the Bank believes it is on track to meeting its US $10 billion commitment before the end of 2015.
The AfDB has also launched a special €33 million Africa Climate Change Fund in Marrakesh, Morocco, in October, 2014 aimed bringing some relief to communities affected by climate change and especially help the continent boost its agriculture production.
Outside of the formal negotiations, the Lima COP provides that opportunity for exchange of new ideas and best practice in the programme of side events. A special “Africa Day” is scheduled to take place on 10thDecember and, for example, an event on “Africa in a post-2015 new climate change agreement” will address the key topic of increasing climate finance access for African countries from regional and international global funds, including the private sector. The event will provide a platform to critically examine and highlight what the post-2015 climate change agreement could mean to Africa as a continent. Issues related to ongoing and planned initiatives to support inclusive and green development strategies in Africa as well as their modalities for implementation, including challenges and opportunities will be discussed.
The Lima COP presents a critical opportunity to produce an outcome to meet the aspirations of the most vulnerable communities to climate change impacts. In doing so it must elaborate the elements of new legally binding agreement to be finalised in Paris next year. A successful outcome would also include agreement to collectively draw up a global climate finance roadmap towards 2020 with information on the scaling up of finance, types and instruments to be deployed, sources and sectoral distribution.

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Noel Casserly

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