Lima climate talks ‘must deliver’, says Ban Ki-moon

UN secretary-general calls on rich countries to pledge money to UN Green Climate Fund

United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon with Peru’s minister of environment Manuel Pulgar Vidal arriving for the opening of the high-level segment of the UN Climate Change Conference in Lima on Tuesday. Photograph: Enrique Castro-Mendivil/Reuters

United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon with Peru’s minister of environment Manuel Pulgar Vidal arriving for the opening of the high-level segment of the UN Climate Change Conference in Lima on Tuesday. Photograph: Enrique Castro-Mendivil/Reuters

 

The Lima climate conference “must deliver” a coherent draft text that will provide a “solid foundation” for negotiations leading to an international agreement in Paris next December, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon has said.

Addressing the opening high-level plenary session amid tight security at Peru’s army headquarters, he said: “All countries must be part of the solution. All of society must be engaged, This is not a time for tinkering – it is a time for transformation.”

Mr Ban also called on rich countries (including Ireland) that have not yet pledged money for the UN’s new Green Climate Fund, set up to provide aid for poorer developing nations, to “consider making an ambitious financial commitment in Lima”.

UN climate chief Christiana Figueres told the session she was “confident” ministers and delegates representing more than 190 countries were prepared to make “ambitious decisions . . . in a spirit of unprecedented optimism and achievement.”

Ministers have finally started negotiating elements of the draft text tabled by co-chairs Artur Runge-Metzger and Kishan Kumarsingh, who had previously been steering the process in a “top-down” fashion, leading to protests from developing countries.

Exceptionally weak But Ciara Kirrane

of the Dublin-based Stop Climate Chaos coalition said in Lima that the new text was “exceptionally weak and fails to do anything to increase the speed at which rich countries reduce [greenhouse gas] emissions before 2020”.

One of the most urgent tasks facing the negotiators here is to finalise a set of rules and requirements for the so-called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) that countries are due to start submitting in March, with an eye on Paris.

INDCs were always understood by developed country parties, including the EU and US, as applying to plans for cutting emissions.

However, developing countries want pledges of climate aid included, fearing that these could otherwise fall off the table.

Agreed target

“We need to see the major economies bringing forward their INDCs in the first quarter of next year,” he told a press briefing at the conference, which is being held in a secure compound of temporary structures at army headquarters in San Borja.

What’s billed as “the largest climate march in Latin American history” is scheduled to take place in Lima on Wednesday, when youth organisations, indigenous peoples, trade unions, environmentalists and others will make their way through the city centre.

One of the organisers, Juan Carlos Solano, told a press briefing the march was being held on International Human Rights Day, because Peru was now the “fourth most dangerous country for environmental defenders” – with four killed in September alone.

Prof John Sweeney of NUI Maynooth, attending his first climate summit since the “car crash” of Copenhagen in 2009, remarked on the “striking contrast” between young idealists and the “hard-bitten negotiators acting out their script inside the tents”.

Minister for Energy and Natural Resources Alex White is in Lima heading Ireland’s 16-strong delegation in place of Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly.