Enough With The “Weak UN” Talk About Lima COP20!

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Turning off my computer at a little after 3 am this morning, I gave a silent thanks to Manuel Pulgar Vidal, the Peruvian environment minister and president of the just-completed 2014 UN COP20 meeting in Lima.

The final COP20 session, which reached an accord (photo from UN broadcast)
The final COP20 session, which reached an accord on Sunday, December 14, 2014 (photo from UN broadcast)

Now I’ll be a little louder. Much of the credit for the newest internationally agreed COP20 plan—a historic commitment by all countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions—belongs to his tenacity, diplomacy, and unfailingly attentive efforts to move the UN climate framework forward.

He and the body of nations have done precisely that. Although, the COP20 agreement is phrased in “UNspeak.” It’s a little difficult for those unfamiliar to the international lingo to understand, but everyone can find the text here.

Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, president of the Lima COP20 (photo from UN broadcast)
Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, president of the Lima COP20 (photo from UN broadcast)

The most important part of this agreement is its inclusivity. The final draft of at least four, one of which clearly bowed to the priorities of currently industrialized nations, it reflects the concerns of both developing and developed countries. It acknowledges the IPCC’s work on this year’s exhaustive fifth assessment of climate change scenarios. It paves the way to next December’s critical meeting in Paris. And it has left almost every listener satisfied that progress has been made. Said Pulgar-Vidal:

As a text it’s not perfect, but it includes the positions of [all] the parties.

There are already pledges from the USA, China, the European Union, and some others for limiting greenhouse gas emissions after 2020. By March 2015, the remaining pledges should be made. Deadlines also exist for other actions for other times in the year.

The “Lima Call for Climate Action” admittedly leaves open some big issues for continued debate during the next year. However, I differ with those who consider it somewhat weak. It represents rare concord in a world with ever-greater potential for conflict—thanks to climate change—than in the history of humanity. It’s definitely a move in the right direction.

And hey, the ceviche was marvelous. Thanks to Peru for its legendary hospitality.

Further commentary to come after my noontime flight from Lima to Chicago.

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