Lima: Call for action, or not enough?

Vositha Wijenayake, Climate Action Network (CAN) South Asia

After two weeks of negotiations – which included over 30 hours of additional negotiations and a few extra days for many of us to get to and from Lima – COP20  adopted a very weak, watered down decision on the advancing of the Durban platform.  Even for the low expectations that were from the start predicted for the COP, its final outcome is something that left much to be desired. There was no progress in the loss and damage discussion under the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP), weak commitments for Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), less ambition and no space for human rights. Links to finance were unconvincing of the expected momentum as we move towards the 100 billion per year by 2020 that was committed in Copenhagen in 2009. Lima was far from a success, and has served to create further doubts for the outcome of COP21, where a universal Paris Agreement is the expectation.

INDCs

While governments were expected to agree on the scope, format, timeline and review for the national contributions (pledges) that would together constitute the Paris deal, the Lima decision while keeping INDCs primarily to mitigation, only “invites” parties to communicate their INDCs. And on adaptation,  “invites all parties to consider communicating their undertakings in adaptation.”

In addition, the choice of what Parties should include in the INDCs has been completely left up to them. The Lima decision provides for those “ready to do so” to communicate them in the first quarter of 2015. It remains to be seen what the impact of this flexibility will be. With no prior assessment of the INDCs, but only a synthesis report on the aggregate effect of the commitments received by the beginning of October 2015,  only weeks before COP 21, doubt remains as to the possibility of scaling up ambition, and the outcome in Paris. 

Finance

Finance was deemed a key component for the Lima negotiations which were dominated by the pledges made to the Green Climate Fund (GCF). In Lima, Norway, Australia, Belgium, Peru and Columbia made pledges bringing the aggregate commitments of 29 countries to US$10.2 billion. Apart from these pledges the rest remains unclear after Lima. Questions remain on what amounts to climate finance and the role of public and private sector finance. There is also lack of clarity on the future of existing climate funds under the Convention. On a positive note, the Adaptation Fund received at the last minute a EUR 55 million contribution by Germany. But this is far from the funding required to address the identified mitigation and adaptations gaps.

Further, there is no concrete proposal to assist developing countries in their mitigation and adaptation needs. A reliable roadmap is missing towards achieving the promised US$100 billion a year by 2020, and the issue of technology transfer is not mentioned in the text. Items that sought to make concrete links to financing, such as National Adaptation Plans (NAPs), were barely mentioned in reference to the GCF.

Adaptation and Loss and Damage

While the exact nature of the inclusion of adaptation in INDCs remains elusive, a decision that unfolded at the eleventh hour made it clear that countries can communicate their NAPs to the UNFCCC, in turn making the NAPs available for funding. The expectation is that the NAPs would be funded through the GCF, yet funding for formulation of these plans remains elusive.

Despite all efforts made, loss and damage failed to gain a place in the ADP decision text as an action item. The Lima Call for Action simply recalls last year’s decision to establish the Warsaw Mechanism for Loss and Damage, and does not separate it from adaptation. The decision further does not acknowledge the need for additional finance for loss and damage in addition to what is needed to fill the “adaptation gap”.

Moving ahead: A legally binding agreement?

The Durban Platform looks towards an outcome with legal force, be it a protocol, amendment or another instrument. The form and structure of the 2015 Agreement was not a popular topic of discussion for Parties in Lima, with many of them feeling that it too early to be discussed. The opinion held by many was that the legal form or the structure of the 2015 Agreement will be dependent on the outcome in Lima. Yet we remain unclear on how much guidance the parties received from the Lima Call for Action, on legal form of the 2015 agreement.  With the little progress made, and the elements text annexed to the Lima Decision not at all being taken for a draft text for the Paris Agreement, there is a lot of work to be done ahead of Paris if a robust and ambitious agreement is to be achieved.