Every year, the UN convenes a summit of diplomats, world leaders and scientists, to discuss ways to slow down climate change. The 2014 conference – the 20th edition – took place in Lima, Peru.

A key point of debate at the Conference of Parties (COP) is how much rich countries should do compared with developing nations. The original emissions cap agreed at the Kyoto conference in 1997 excluded poorer countries such as India and China, which are now some of the largest polluters in the world.

— Here’s what industry professionals were hoping to see beforehand —

Whether developing nations step up and deliver real commitments ahead of Paris 2015 was just one of the storylines at the 12-day conference. This article was updated regularly with all of the big announcements as they happened.

– Friday 12 December – Industry experts shocked by lack of ambition at summit conclusion 

CEO of The Climate Group Mark Kenber said: “Lima simply cannot conclude without a clear roadmap on what the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) should look like; they will be the drivers of any meaningful deal in Paris in 2015. An agreement on the structure and format of national commitments is crucial to build the trust that is still clearly lacking between countries.

“What strikes me most in Lima is the contrast between the stalemate in the negotiating room and the positive discussions happening outside. Corporations are stepping up to the plate, with commitments on renewables, energy efficiency and long-term targets, because they know it makes business sense. Sub-national governments are leading by example with innovative climate policies, as demonstrated by the new Compact of States and Regions. However, none of these initiatives will be able to make it to the next level without the certainty and market signals that only bold national pledges and an ambitious global climate deal can provide.

“Populations usually look to politicians to lead. What we are seeing in Lima is policy makers trying to play catch up with what is happening on the ground. Given the optimism that we saw coming into this conference, failure to deliver a strong outcome here would be a massive missed opportunity. Negotiators and ministers would only have themselves to blame.”

– Monday 8 December – Big polluters are leading the way

For the first time since 2009, the environmental assessor Climate Action Tracker has calculated a lower projected warming over the 21st century thanks to the new proposed post-2020 actions from China, the US and the EU.

However, it warned this is still not enough to limit warming below 2˚C.

If China, the United States and the European Union, who together comprise around 53% of global emissions, fully implement their post-2020 plans, they would limit global temperature rise to around 3˚C by 2100.

The assessor cautioned that developing countries such as India needed to do more to reach the UN’s 2C target 

– Monday 8 December – Global cities are taking steps to track carbon emissions

More than 100 cities from around the world have signed up to the testing phase of a new protocol which claims to be the first standardised international agreement to measure and report city emissions.

The Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventories (GPC), launched yesterday at the UN summit in Lima, aims to help cities set mitigation goals, create more targeted climate action plans and track progress over time. 

The GPC is already supported by 100 cities that are home to 107 million people; emitting more than 1.1 gigatonnes of greenhouse gases. 

– Sunday 7 December -The UK sent a rudderless delegation

The UK climate change minister Amber Rudd will not attend the summit, reportedly because the Conservative chief whip wants her to vote in the Commons this week on an anti-terror law.

Predictably the move sparked outrage among environmental groups as Christian Aid’s chief climate advisor Dr Alison Doig suggested that the government was not taking the Lima negotiations seriously enough.

“We are dismayed that the Climate Minister will not be part of these key negotiations in Lima. These talks are supposed to lay the groundwork for a global climate deal.

“With just one year left before that [Paris 2015] deal is supposed to be signed and sealed, and just one year since devastating floods hit the UK, action on climate change should be at the top of the Government’s agenda.”

Ed Davey is attending the second week of the conference. 

– Thursday 4 December – Japan defends funding coal projects abroad

Japan prompted controversy at the conference by using $1bn of UN climate loans to fund coal power stations.

Japan says these plants burn coal more efficiently and are therefore cleaner than old coal plants, but the transgression prompted a vociferous response from environmental groups.

More than 250 NGO’s co-signed a letter to the Green Climate Fund – which will soon be the largest financier of green projects – warning that it cannot be used to fund fossil-fuel power generation.

– Thursday 4 December – Latin America to make deforestation pledge 

Leaders from Latin American countries are expected to announce a major new initiative to restore forests and agricultural lands on Sunday in Lima.

Initiative 20×20 is a country-led effort to restore 20 million hectares of degraded land in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The plan is part of the Bonn Challenege – a global commitment to restore 150 million hectares of land around the world by 2020.

– Thursday 4 December – Religious groups want to get #Light forLima trending

Religious groups have thrown their weight behind the talks, planning a night-time vigil on the 7th of December, under the hashtag LightforLima

“We want our leaders to hear the moral imperative for action,” said Lindsay Alderton,from OurVoices UK. “These vigils represent the voices of the human spirit, expressed through our religious and spiritual traditions and through many people’s personal convictions.”

Join worldwide climate vigils on 7 Dec. #LightForLima #EarthKeeper http://t.co/JkIYLqDJdj http://t.co/yz1LKqNIyF

– Wednesday 3 December- It’s taking place during ‘the hottest year on record’

The World Meteorological Organisation underlined the importance of the conference, announcing yesterday (3 December) that 2014 was due to be the hottest year ever recorded.

The WMO report read: “This is largely due to record high global sea surface temperatures, which will very likely remain above normal until the end of the year.

“High sea temperatures, together with other factors, contributed to exceptionally heavy rainfall and floods in many countries and extreme drought in others.

– Wednesday 3 December – Germany will cut GHG emissions by 40% by 2020

The German Government injected some urgency into proceedings yesterday when it approved a broad new strategy designed to ensure it meets its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2020.

The savings will be driven by deep cuts in emissions-from-buildings, and the waste, energy and transport sectors. The key elements of the plans include tax incentives for energy-related building renovations, an electric car rollout, and a clampdown on oil-and-coal power stations.

“This is the most comprehensive climate protection package that a German government has ever presented,” said environment minister Barbara Hendricks.

– Tuesday 2 December – Business leaders are supporting (not resisting) climate action

One major difference from previous conferences is the support of businesses who now appear to recognise that climate change could impact their operations. 

The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG), which includes carbon-heavy companies like Shell and Philips, has called for a ‘plan for zero net emissions’.

CLG chair Philippe Joubert said: “The science is clear on climate change – but in order to invest in low-carbon technologies that will boost economies and create jobs, business leaders also require clear policies from governments.

“Following recent moves by Europe, the USA and China to set new carbon-cutting targets, a successful outcome in Lima is vital to keep building momentum towards a global agreement in Paris next year – which should include a goal for reaching net zero emissions well before the end of the century.”

That call was echoed by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

– Tuesday 2 December – Differing opinions on legally binding targets

EU delegates say mandatory carbon emissions cuts should be set for all countries, whereas the US wants individual countries to be free to adjust the scale and pace of reductions.

The debate could threaten a long-term agreement at the conference.

“What the United States is putting on the table is basically the Wild West,” Asad Rehman of Friends of the Earth told the Guardian at the conference. 

“Having a deregulated climate system, having countries just make any pledge they want is a recipe for disaster. What we need is science-based rigorous regulations, it’s the only way are going to tackle this climate crisis,” he said.

Brad Allen

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