First week of UNEP talks ends on optimism in Lima

Adequacy key word to determine success of targets set by countries

December 06, 2014 11:42 pm | Updated November 16, 2021 05:44 pm IST - Lima

Part of the "Black Vultures" installation by artist Cristina Planas in the Villa Wetlands, south of Lima. The installation, made up of vultures sculpted on dead palm trees, represent workers collecting garbage.

Part of the "Black Vultures" installation by artist Cristina Planas in the Villa Wetlands, south of Lima. The installation, made up of vultures sculpted on dead palm trees, represent workers collecting garbage.

As the first week of the U.N. climate talks draws to a close, the initial despair has turned to optimism, but there is still a long way to go in terms of finalising key elements for contributions from countries or a draft agreement for Lima.

While the text of the key elements of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) and the draft for a Paris agreement are under discussion, developing countries are opposing the mitigation-centric approach of the developed world.

India and other countries are saying that National contributions cannot be mitigation-centric and have to include finance, technology and adaptation aspects. India is also opposed to an external mechanism to review targets it sets under the INDC. The tussle will spill over to the ministerial or high level segment next week. The timeframe of these pledges each country makes is also crucial and has not been debated.

There is controversy over a proposed review mechanism to determine if all pledges by countries were enough to ward off the devastating impacts of a warming world.

Saleemul Huq, director of the International Centre for Climate Change & Development (ICCCAD), and an adaptation expert, told The Hindu on Friday that the first week of the climate talks had a typical pattern — nothing gets done and the easiest thing for negotiators was to pass it on to the Ministers.

Even on simple issues, for instance on the composition of the Warsaw Mechanism on loss and damage, there was a difference of opinion on how the committee should be constituted and typically everything was kept in abeyance till the high-level segment as the horse trading for the final agreement could only be done by politicians, he said.

However, he felt there was a positive momentum to the talks and there was an interest in an agreement. The INDCs allow countries to present their targets, but the key word between Lima and Paris next year to judge the success of how this works was “adequacy,” he pointed out.

The questions to ask are: are the targets of each country adequate and are there enough funds? “Everybody needs to do more,” he said, and more than agreements on specific texts, “we need more positive momentum on action.”

Countries could do a lot more and the question of whether adaptation should be part of the INDCs was not mandatory, though the mitigation aspect was mandatory, he added.

Everything had to be looked through the lens of adequacy, he said and there were many things happening outside the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The U.N. catalysed the process and the big difference between Copenhagen in 2009 and Lima was that countries were doing a lot more for climate change. “Countries are also learning by doing and generating a virtuous cycle of change, for instance in Bangladesh three million households are powered with solar energy, it’s a good thing to do,” he explained.

The Indian government too expressed satisfaction with the progress in talks so far. It’s a work in progress, said Susheel Kumar, interim head of the Indian delegation. “We are quite hopeful that Lima will be more non-partisan and keeping in mind the global divide, it is time such a non-partisan view emerges. If this view doesn’t get formed in Lima, we don’t have much time. Hereafter, we just need to polish the text..m The skeleton has to be finalised and fleshed out over next year.”

The European Union too felt there was note of determined optimism to the talks and key parties were keen to advance the negotiations.

Elena Bardram of the EU said it hasn’t been all smooth sailing and real life negotiations seldom are but there is a lot of progress in the working method and it has provided assurance to parties.

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