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Success? Experts put the Lima climate deal into perspective

Scott Sutherland
Meteorologist/Science Writer

Monday, December 15, 2014, 5:36 PM - Sunday's climate deal has presented as a success by conference organizers and the negotiators in attendance, but not everyone is happy about it. Here's what the experts have to say.

This new deal, called the Lima Call to Climate Action, came after two weeks of negotiations, including an overtime session that lasted for roughly a day and a half after the official end of the conference. Rather than a full binding agreement, though, this is just the foundation for what will hopefully come out of COP21 - the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in December 2015.

Presented in a four-page document, the deal they worked out

  • Highlights the commitment of the member nations to "reaching an ambitious agreement" in 2015,
  • Acknowledges the "common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities" of nations with respect to climate change mitigation and adaptation,
  • Calls upon the more developed nations of the world to provide financial aid to developing countries, especially those that "are particularly vulnerable" to the damages expected due to climate change,
  • Invites all nations to submit their "intended nationally determined contributions" (INDCs) to this new climate deal, well ahead of the December 2015 conference date, and
  • Emphasizes that these contributions "will represent a progression beyond the current undertaking" of those nations.

What does that ultimately mean? It means that everyone is on board with how important this new climate agreement is. It means that richer nations must take responsibility for the fact that they have emitted most of the greenhouse gases leading up to recent times, while developing nations are now putting out the bulk of current emissions. It means that developing and poorer nations are the ones that are going to bear the brunt of the damages from rising sea levels, more intense droughts and the like, and they are going to need the financial assistance of richer nations to get through these difficult times. It means that nations really need to put their contributions forward ahead of time, so that everyone can work together, and those contributions cannot simply be 'business as usual'.

RELATED: US and China strike landmark climate change and clean energy deal

However, while that's all good, not everyone is happy with this result.

Samantha Smith, the leader of the World Wildlife Fund’s Global Climate and Energy Initiative, called the deal "half-baked" in a statement released on Sunday, going on to say:


"Governments crucially failed to agree on specific plans to cut emissions before 2020 that would have laid the groundwork for ending the fossil fuel era and accelerated the move toward renewable energy and increased energy efficiency."
"The science is clear that delaying action until 2020 will make it near impossible to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, yet political expediency won over scientific urgency. Instead of leadership, they delivered a lackluster plan with little scientific relevancy."


A statement from the Climate Action Network (CAN) read:


When it comes down to it, these talks shows governments are disconnected from their people who are worried about climate risks and want a just transition to boost our economies, deliver jobs and strengthen public health. Increasingly domestic issues, whether they are elections or decisions about major projects such as the KeystoneXL pipeline in the US and the Galilee basin in Australia, will be seen as a country’s intention on climate change.
While governments were able to hide in Lima, they won’t have that luxury in Paris where the world will be expecting them to deliver an agreement, not shoe-gazing.


Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of the relief organization Oxfam International, said in a press release on Sunday:


"We hoped for a course correction here in Lima, but negotiators were content to sail on into the storm"
"2014 saw half a million people take to the streets to demand climate action followed by the largest ever climate march in Latin America this week. The outcome ensures even greater efforts are needed ahead of Paris. But even the best scenario in 2015 will require vigilance decades into the future. This week shows us that even if negotiators can successfully land the most ambitious deal currently on the table in Paris, our work will be far from over."


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