EU Calls For Legally Binding Emissions Cuts At Lima COP20

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For a quick summary of the progress of world negotiations on climate change so far, the Climate Group has produced a simple but expressive infographic (below is part of it, click to enlarge).

climate agreements
Understanding the UNFCCC process (The Climate Group)

At Tuesday’s Lima COP20 meeting, the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action opened its 13th session. The main event of the day, this ADP meeting started off with the preparations for next year’s Paris agreement.

Co-chair Kishan Kumarsingh opened the main plenary of the Lima COP20 with negotiations on the draft text for the Paris accords, as the parties had requested earlier this year when they met in Bonn. Sophie Yeo of RTCC summarized the events in her customary live blog.

On behalf of the G77+China group, Bolivia ran overtime to express this group’s call for 40% reductions in greenhouse gases on 1990 levels by 2020 from rich countries, a relatively high level.

Australia spoke on behalf of the Umbrella Group.

Switzerland proposed on behalf of Environment Integrity Group that rich and poor countries should self-differentiate.

On behalf of the Africa Group, Sudan raised the topic of “imbalance” from the chairs.

Speaking for “Least Developed Countries” was Nepal.

The Latin America alliance AILAC called for carbon neutrality by 2050.

Belize spoke on behalf of the Central American Integration System (SICA).

Saudi Arabia requested recognition of the “historic right of Arab states to sustainable development” on behalf of the Arab Group.

South Africa spoke on behalf of BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India, and China).

Cuba, on behalf of strongly like-minded developing countries, rejected Switzerland’s notion of bottom-up differentiation, which sets up a conflict with the US and other developed nations.

On behalf of the Coalition of Rainforest Nations, Panama spoke of a new market-based mechanism, including REDD, for forest issues.

Elina Bardram making the case for binding targets (EPA/Paolo Aguilar)
Elina Bardram of the EU making the case for binding targets (EPA/Paolo Aguilar)

The European Union made the day’s biggest news at Lima COP20. Dan Collyns, Peru reporter for the Guardian, noted that this group came out strongly in favor of requiring legally binding cuts from all countries by 2015, to be executed by 2020. He quotes Elina Bardram, head of the EU’s COP20 delegation:

“The EU is of the mind that legally binding mitigation targets are the only way to provide the necessary long-term signal, the necessary confidence to the investors… and provide credibility in the low carbon transition worldwide…. We’re not convinced that an alternative approach could provide the same signals that would be sufficient to deliver the global momentum…. We don’t want to get to Paris and realise that the targets and the contributions did not add up to what we needed.”

This action represents the first time a Brussels official has gone on the public record supporting legally binding targets. It contrasts with what the US favors: a “buffet option” (read: “all of the above”?) with some legally binding elements but leeway for individual countries to determine their own emissions reductions. The EU received support from Meena Raman of the Third World Network during a press conference.

Other Lima COP20 press conferences and launches also occurred. Notable among them was a set of ideas from a global consortium including the World Resources Institute and 9 other parties on how to forge an effective 2015 agreement. “The major proposal, by the Agreement on Climate Transformation 2015 (ACT 2015) consortium, provides recommendations that are grounded in political realities and adequately respond to the dangerous and costly impacts of climate change. It is based on intensive analysis by 10 research institutions with outreach to climate negotiators, hundreds of government representatives and other stakeholders convened during 12 workshops over the past year,” WRI writes. “The proposal includes three essential elements and eight core functions necessary for the Paris climate agreement to be successful.”

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