Reaction to COP20 - the Lima climate summit

14 December 2014

Jonathan Grant gives his reaction to the climate negotiations held at the army headquarters in Lima.

The climate talks almost ground to a halt here in Lima. Progress outside the process, such as the US-China climate deal and the $10bn pledged to the Green Climate Fund, failed to translate into much progress inside the negotiating hall. This was despite the best efforts of the host to create a positive atmosphere.  The President of the COP gavelled through 'The Lima Call for Climate Action' in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The main sticking point was how to include all countries in the Paris deal. Some developing countries still prefer the old Kyoto division between rich and poor. Many countries dogmatically dug into long held positions and were accused of not negotiating at all. The frustration is normal at this technical phase of the negotiations process as there is little reason for countries to give ground.

The lack of substantive progress here doesn’t fatally undermine the talks in Paris, but it does give a preview of what’s to come next year, when negotiations move into the political phase.

The more progressive governments now worry about how to move the climate talks forward in 2015. Putting climate change on the agenda of the G20 and G7 next year is unlikely to achieve much, if some simply revert to their bad habits of frustrating the UN meetings.  Brinkmanship is normal in these negotiations, but there's concern that the talks will fall off the cliff in Paris, like they did in Copenhagen.

Countries fired their opening salvos of the Paris talks here at the army headquarters where the summit was located. Success next year depends on countries breaking out of the trench warfare mentality seen here in Lima.