The COP 20’s “Lima call for climate action” is no wake-up call but a worrisome sign of a feeble multilateral climate process plagued by political deafness and leaving poor and vulnerable communities alone with the impacts of climate change.
It finally ended in the early morning hours of Sunday December 14th. After two long weeks of negotiations delegations at the COP 20 in Lima adopted a very watered down and streamlined final decision on further advancing the Durban platform for a new agreement by 2020, daringly mislabeled the “Lima Call for Climate Action”. This is an underwhelming outcome, not a success. The Lima climate conference did not deliver even though expectations were low from the start. An unholy alliance of political and corporate elites both in developed and developing countries seems to believe that some meager voluntary pledges – too little too late – are enough to move beyond business-as-usual, but their actions only serve to cement it further. While strengthening the rights of corporations and increasing their role and visibility in the negotiations, the Lima conference did next to nothing to support human rights, particularly gender equality and the rights of indigenous peoples. This is not only in sharp contrast to the realities of climate change impacts on the ground but also to the growing number of ordinary people, social movements and organizations taking the streets from New York to Lima demanding real climate action and most of all: climate justice. Rather than accelerating progress and ambition, the paltry outcome of COP 20 risks putting the UN climate negotiations into slow-motion and inertia on the road to the Paris climate conference next year when governments are expected to sign a new global agreement. The future of international climate politics remains disconcertingly uncertain with the Lima Call for Climate Action resembling nothing more than the “sound of silence” of (non-)decision-makers.
Pledge and chat
Over two weeks, delegates battled over various text options in the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) to further advance their work and draw out the draft elements of an outcome in Paris to guide further negotiations in 2015. Of all options discussed in the ADP before or at the beginning of the Lima climate talks, the final outcome either deleted some of the more ambitious ones or chose the weakest option representing the lowest common denominator by removing references to strong and ambitious verifiable commitments, equity and fairness in burden-sharing, as well as human rights references. Here’s a quick assessment of the basic expectations and how they turned out in the end: