Climate change warnings precede negotiations in Lima

Environmentalists and poorer countries insist any deal must be binding and fair

The Hualcan glacier in  Peru.The country  is home to 71 per cent of the world’s tropical glaciers,  a source of fresh water for millions, but 22 per cent of the surface area of Peruvian glaciers has disappeared. Photograph: Reuters

The Hualcan glacier in Peru.The country is home to 71 per cent of the world’s tropical glaciers, a source of fresh water for millions, but 22 per cent of the surface area of Peruvian glaciers has disappeared. Photograph: Reuters

 

Delegates from more than 190 countries have arrived in Peru to begin the latest round of negotiations aimed at reaching a universal agreement in Paris by the end of next year on how to tackle climate change.

The two-week UN climate conference in Lima is the 20th to be held since 1995 and follows publication by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of its Fifth Assessment Report, which said greenhouse-gas emissions needed to fall to zero by 2100.

It also comes after the latest UN Environment Programme “emissions gap” report, warning that if the world is to have a chance of capping global warming at two degrees, emissions need to “turn the corner” around 2020 and be heading downward by 2030.

Environmentalists and poorer countries insist that any climate deal must be “comprehensive, binding and reflect a fair-share approach to the global ‘carbon budget’ – the limited quantity of carbon pollution that can still be released while avoiding dangerous climate change”.

Lidy Nacpil, of Jubilee South, said: “These talks come in the shadow of the one-year anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan, the most destructive storm in human history, as well as even more science that proves what we already know: the urgency of the climate crisis is only growing.”

Deal ‘an empty shell’

Hopes that the Paris conference would deliver an agreement strong enough to achieve the two-degree target are already being dampened, even by UN insiders, who have said it’s unrealistic to expect that whatever is agreed will be sufficient in itself to put the world on a safer path.

UN climate chief Christiana Figueres has insisted, however, that Paris “does need to put us on track to two degrees” and that a 24-page “non-paper” circulated earlier in November by co-chairmen Arthur Runge-Metzger and Kishan Kumarsingh represents a “vision” of how it could work.

The Lima negotiations are meant to lead to an increase in climate action before 2020, including provision of finance for developing countries, as well as working towards an agreement “with legal force” to take effect from 2020.

Prospects of making progress have been boosted by the recent deal between the US and China, under which emissions would fall in both countries, the world’s largest economies, and by pledges from the US, Japan and others for the Green Climate Fund.

The EU has also stepped up to the plate with its climate and energy package for 2030, under which Europe’s emissions would be cut by “at least 40 per cent” by 2030, although EU member states have yet to agree on how this “burden” is to be shared.