Climate change road map after marathon negotiations

Sleepless delegates end Lima talks with foundations for major agreement next year

After a marathon round of negotiations in Lima, sleepless delegates from all over the world have produced a road map that should lead to a historic international agreement on climate change in Paris next December.

But the Lima Call for Climate Action, brokered by Peruvian environment minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, was strongly criticised by observers as weak, heavily compromised and inadequate to the challenge of tackling global warming.

As representatives of nearly 190 countries convened for the final plenary session in the early hours of Sunday morning, climate activists chanted outside the large tented hall, holding banners demanding justice for the poor.

“Our concerns have proven to be tragically accurate,” said Jagoda Munic, chair of Friends of the Earth International.


‘Desperately lacking’

“This text is desperately lacking in ambition, leadership, justice and solidarity for the people worst-hit by the climate crisis.”

Greenpeace's Martin Kaiser said governments "have just kicked the can further down the road by shifting all the difficult decisions into the future . . . Time is running out and solutions must be delivered before climate chaos becomes inevitable."

Former president Mary Robinson said Lima had managed to keep the multilateral UN process alive, but did not "give confidence that the world is ready to adopt an equitable and ambitious, legally binding climate agreement in Paris next year".

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly, whose place was taken at the conference by Minister for Energy and Natural Resources Alex White, said the negotiations had been "difficult" and paid tribute to Peru for having secured a "broad consensus".

But Ciara Kirrane, co-ordinator of the Stop Climate Chaos coalition, who was attending her first UN climate conference, expressed dismay that Ireland was among the few countries which had failed to pledge support for the Green Climate Fund.

‘Climate finance’

Alden Meyer

, policy director with the Union of Concerned Scientists, noted “deep and long-standing divisions on major issues including climate finance”, saying these had “nearly derailed the process in Lima” and could even block a deal in Paris.

However, conference president Mr Pulgar-Vidal said delegates had left Lima “with a far clearer vision of what the draft Paris agreement will look like as we head into 2015 and the next round of negotiations in Geneva” – scheduled for February.

UN climate chief Christiana Figueres said they reached "a new level of realism and understanding about what needs to be done now, over the next 12 months and into the years and decades to come if climate change is to be truly and decisively addressed".

New solidarity

The Like-Minded Developing Countries group had feared that “ghosts of the past would be resurrected” – a reference by Malaysia to the shambles of the 2009 climate summit in Copenhagen – but instead Lima had forged a new solidarity among them.

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon called on all parties, especially the world's major economies, to submit "ambitious national commitments well in advance of Paris" and said he would be working Peru and France on an "action agenda" for Paris.

Lima Call for Climate Action – main points:


Calls for an “ambitious” agreement in Paris next December, based on the “differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities” of developed and developing countries.


Intended nationally determined contributions (or INDCs) are to be submitted in the first quarter of 2015 by countries that are “ready to do so”, but with no review of their adequacy.


Countries may set targets to cut emissions that go beyond their current pledges, and the UNFCCC secretariat will report back on their collective impact in November 2015.


Rich countries are to continue providing financial support to more vulnerable poorer countries, starting with the $10 billion already pledged to the UNFCCC’s Green Climate Fund.


The final text also restored the promise of a loss-and-damage mechanism for poor countries in the frontline of climate change, a scheme that had been dropped from an earlier version of the agreement.

Frank McDonald

Frank McDonald

Frank McDonald, a contributor to The Irish Times, is the newspaper's former environment editor