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Lima Climate Change Conference

Volume 589: debated on Thursday 18 December 2014

The annual conference of the parties (COP) to the United Nations framework convention on climate change took place in Lima, Peru, from 1-14 December. The United Kingdom was represented by the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.

What we agreed

All countries in the United Nations framework convention on climate change committed at the COP in Durban in 2011 to negotiate, by 2015, a new global, legally binding agreement, applicable to all nations, to come into force by 2020. In Warsaw, last year, all agreed to bring forward their intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) to that agreement well in advance of Paris, and by the first quarter of 2015 for those that are ready to do so.

The UK’s key objectives for the Lima conference were to secure: (a) clarity on the process next year for parties to communicate their INDCs well in advance of Paris; (b) draft elements of a negotiating text of the new agreement; and, (c) continuation of the work on emission reductions between now and 2020. These objectives were achieved.

Regarding a process next year, we secured three key outcomes:

1. Agreement that quantifiable information should accompany countries’ INDCs next year, that countries will have to set out their INDC in a clear, transparent and comprehensible manner, and explain why they believe it is fair and ambitious, so that the international community can understand the level of ambition behind each INDC and its contribution to the below two degree goal. This is a crucial step to create trust in the new regime.

2. Agreement that countries’ INDCs should represent a progression beyond current targets, which is important as it demonstrates willingness by all countries to enhance emissions reduction actions. It is clear that mitigation is at the core of INDCs. Countries may opt to also include in their INDCs information on their adaptation contribution or planning processes, if they wish.

3. Agreement to a synthesis report, which the UNFCCC will put together by 1 November 2015, which will assess the aggregate effect of INDCs. Ahead of this, the UK anticipates a debate within the international community about the INDCs submitted and what they represent in terms of fair and ambitious contributions to the two degree objective, even though this was not formally mandated by the Lima outcome.

Regarding the draft elements text, the Lima COP successfully elaborated the elements of a draft negotiating text of the new agreement and annexed this to the main Lima COP decision. We expect it to now form the starting point for negotiations next year. These elements are only draft and cover a wide range of options from different perspectives, including many we will not support. Negotiations on the content will resume next year. All countries will need to work together to move from these elements containing options to a full draft negotiating text by May 2015.

Regarding progress on increasing mitigation ambition before 2020: we agreed the continuation of the technical expert meetings on specific initiatives until 2020, and that these meetings would be limited to mitigation action only.

In addition, there was agreement to that the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities would apply to the new agreement but that it would do so,

“in light of different national circumstances”.

This represents acceptance that this principle—often referred to as differentiation—will, in the new agreement, reflect countries’ evolving and particular circumstances, rather than be based on a binary view of countries circumstances.

We also reached a balanced decision on finance, which I brokered alongside the South African Environment Minister. The decision sees countries welcome the capitalisation of the green climate fund—more than $10 billion committed in the initial capitalisation round—as well as other initiatives, and calls for increased transparency and predictability of climate finance.

This was also a conference that dealt with the important mechanics of the existing international climate regime and continued to build the foundations for the global agreement in 2015, including on REDD+, market mechanisms, the regime for measuring and reporting emissions and progress by the UNFCCC institutions, including the financial and technology mechanisms, the adaptation committee and the Warsaw mechanism on loss and damage.

Overall assessment

Overall, the Lima outcome was broadly positive. We secured the basis for everything the Government want to see in the final agreement, which was outlined in Government’s vision for the new agreement—“Paris 2015: Securing our prosperity through a global climate change agreement”—that I published on 9 September 2015. We achieved a good result on climate finance by demonstrating again the UK’s leadership in this area, which helps enhance our reputation and credibility internationally. The UK continued its strong record of leading on climate change action: demonstrating our ambition at home, our support to developing countries and our leading influence in the EU and with international partners.

Next year

Looking ahead, 2015 will be an intensive year of negotiations, with negotiators working to refine the elements of the draft negotiation text, with a view to preparing a first draft of the negotiating text of the agreement by May 2015 and countries, especially the major economies, submitting their INDCs to the new deal in the first quarter of 2015.