The UN Climate Change Conference in Peru ( 1- 12 December) kicked off on Monday with inspiring calls to climate action.
In her opening address, the UN’s top climate change official Christiana Figueres called on delegates to take inspiration from Peru’s famous Nazca lines etched into the soil by Peru’s indigenous Nazca people many centuries ago. These lines depict symbols of Nazca mythology, and include the monkey, the hummingbird and the condor.
The famous Nazca lines incorporated into Peruvian host government logo
Ms. Figueres said the world now needed lines of action on climate change that are “as indelible over time as the Nazca lines. “
Drawing parallels to the hard work delegates need to undertake to design the 2015 global Paris agreement, and ramping up immediate climate action, she said:
We must emulate the hard work it took to etch these lines into the soil, embody the tenacity of those who carved them, and create global climate and development agendas with the durability of this ancient art form.
According to Ms. Figueres, key deliverables for the meeting are:
- a draft of a new, universal climate change agreement on the table and clarification of how national contributions will be communicated next year
- consolidating of progress on adaptation to achieve political parity with mitigation, given the equal urgency of both
- enhancement of the delivery of finance, in particular to the most vulnerable
- stimulation of ever-increasing action on the part of all stakeholders to scale up the scope and accelerate the solutions that move us all forward, faster.
Ms. Figueres said:
With success in these areas, COP 20/CMP 10 is poised to deliver pre-2020 action, set the stage for a strong Paris agreement and increase ambition over time, ultimately fulfilling a long-term vision of climate neutrality in the pursuit of development that is truly sustainable for all.
Mr. Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Environment Minister of Peru, was elected President of the Conference of the Parties (COP 20/CMP 10).
In his opening address, he said that the meeting was taking place against a background of announcements to curb emissions by several major emitting countries and the large public mobilization and many initiatives launched at the September Climate Summit in New York.
He also praised countries for making pledges towards the initial capitalization of the Green Climate Fund.
Alluding to the summary of the latest findings of the UN’s International Climate Change, published in October in Copenhagen, COP President Pulgar-Vidal said:
This report contains several messages that are undeniable: never before has there been so much evidence of social and natural effects of severe and irreversible climate change. Never before has it been so clear that the window of opportunity to reduce emissions will soon close. Never before has it been so necessary to ensure that our cities and sectors can adapt to climate change. Never before have we so clearly seen the multiple opportunities for co-benefits through accelerated efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to climate change.
This message was underscored by the Chair of the UN’s intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Dr. Rajendra Pauchari, who reminded the audience that unchecked climate change would lead to irreversible consequences.
COP President Pulgar-Vidal said the conference would include space for dialogue and high-level cooperation between states and non-state actors, which should be recognized and encouraged.
He announced that December 11 would be a “Day of Climate Action” at which for example representatives of civil society, women's groups and youth could take the floor.
More than 100 Heads of State and Government and Ministers are scheduled to attend the high-level segment of the conference next week, which begins on 9 December and ends with a decision-making plenary on 12 December.
Also next week, the UNFCCC secretariat will celebrate Momentum for Change lighthouse activities, climate action that demonstrates positive results for innovative finance, women, the urban poor, along with contributions of the information and technology sector to curb emissions and increase adaptive capacity to respond.
Further highlights are a UNFCCC Pre-2020 Action Fair 5, 8 and 9 December in Lima to showcase how action is being scaled up and how many countries and non-state actors are taking action, plus a special “NAMAs day” to promote plans of developing countries to reduce emissions and to develop sustainably which can be supported by developed countries.
The full set of speeches and presentations given at the opening of COP 20 can be found here.
Opening of the subsidiary bodies on technical advice and implementation
Next to the opening of the COP, the subsidiary bodies were also opened. The Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) adopted their agendas and organization of work, and opened all of their agenda items. These included adaptation; mitigation; response measures; loss and damage; means of implementation (MOI), including finance, technology transfer and capacity building; market- and non-market-based mechanisms; and reporting by Parties.
One of the agenda items launched in the SBSTA opening plenary was the structured expert dialogue on the 2013-2015 review. The fourth meeting of the structured expert dialogue (SED4) is scheduled to take place during the Lima Conference. The goal of SED 4 is to contribute to the assessment of the adequacy of the long-term global goal to limit the increase in global average temperature to 2°C above pre-industrial levels. Part 1 of the review will take place on 3 December and part 2 on 4 December.
The opening of the SBSTA was followed by the SBI Opening Plenary, where one of the issues introduced was gender and climate change. The European Union and Least Developed Countries advocated for a framework on gender and climate change to be established, including a two year work programme.
The SBI also took note of the summary report on the 2nd Dialogue on Article 6 of the Convention relating to climate change education, training and public awareness, with some Parties emphasizing the importance of Article 6 for mobilizing broad public support for effective climate action.
Contact groups and informal consultations convened in the afternoon under the SBI and SBSTA on a number of issues. At the first informal consultation on the TEC-CTCN joint report, Parties began proposing elements for the draft text, including linkages with organizations dealing with enabling environment/barrier issues, and balancing work on technologies for adaptation & mitigation.
Additionally, numerous side events by both international organisations and non-governmental organisations took place. Selected highlights follow.
Climate change mitigation policies–recent trends, opportunities and compatibility with 2°C pathways
The event presented several new analyses, including by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, on the impact of mitigation commitments and action on GHG emissions.
Countries around the world have taken action on climate change. Many new policies, for example on renewable energy or energy efficiency are being implemented and other measures are being taken. The international community has agreed to limit temperatures increases to a maximum of 2C.
According to a presentation given by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, if current policies remain the basis for action, the world will have used up the carbon budget within which the 2C goal is attainable by 2035.
The agency stressed that the 2C limit depends on well-organised international policies in the short-term to realize stringent reductions in the period 2020-2030. For a closer look at the presentation, click here
First side event on public participation
On 1 December, the first public participation event was held at COP 20 in Lima. This event featured brief presentations by informed members of civil society and academia with practical experience bringing public participation to climate-related decision making.
The presentations covered various topics, including human and indigenous rights, the value of accepting public comments in planning efforts such as the development of National Adaptation Plans, the history of public consultation in UN meetings, the need for rights-based approaches and the empowering quality of public participation in local decision making. Following the presentations, the presenters facilitated breakout group discussions covering topics related to how to increase public participation, the benefits of doing so and how the UNFCCC process can encourage domestic public participation. These discussions were robust and allowed for the sharing of knowledge and experience from different perspectives, including developing country, youth and women’s voices. Click here to see the results of the breakout sessions and join the discussion on Twitter using the #Article6 hashtag.
The event was co-organized by the University of Yale - GEM initiative and the Centre for International Sustainable Development Law, and was chaired by Sébastien Jodoin, of McGill University and Abby Rubinson with Earthjustice. The speakers included Maiximo Ba Tiul, Member of the People’s Council of Tesulaklan; Sébastien Duyck, University of Lapland; Karen Holm Olsen, Danish Technical University; Catherine Gauthier, Environnement Jeunesse; and Samuel Leiva, CAN-LA. To see more detailed information, click here.