What is the Lima Climate Change Conference (COP20)?

The 20th edition of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) kicked off in Lima last week. What measures can we expect from this convention?

The 20th edition of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) kicked off in Lima last week. Hundreds of ministers, executives, negotiators and other stakeholders from more than 190 countries are at the COP20 in Peru to participate in climate change talks.

The COP20 has met every year since 1994. This year, the challenge is to decide on whether to continue with the Kyoto Protocol or to develop an alternative. The European Union is heading to Lima with its recent binding proposal to reduce emissions by 40% by 2030 and to set a renewable energy target of 27% and an energy efficiency target of 25%. The European Parliament is considering revising those targets. Spain recently committed to reducing its emissions by 40% by 2030.

China and the US also confirmed their commitment to fighting climate change. In view of the international context, what decisions could politicians make that would signal a change in their willingness to act?

What measures can we expect from this convention?

An agreement about the general rules to be approved in Paris in 2015.

A stronger debate about a long-term objective of zero net emissions, which would require a change in the current energy model.

Continuity and progress in dialogue on the internationalisation of carbon pricing with a view to establishing a global objective. Carbon Pricing was defined at the Climate Summit in New York in September.

Since the conclusions from the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (5AR) on Climate Change are to be presented, greater public support for that report is expected as it is the leading scientific authority on climate change, recognised by almost all governments around the world. According to the report, the consequences of climate change are much more immediate now than they seemed before, as atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide have risen to levels without precedent in at least the last 800,000 years. Those changes are mainly due to anthropogenic, or human, impacts. The report is alarmist, but it is also hopeful, since it indicates that there is sufficient science and technology to adapt to the effects of climate change and, more importantly, mitigate its reach.

A greater commitment to funding the Green Climate Fund is also expected, with US$100 billion expected to be raised by 2020. To date, 10% of those funds have been obtained.

The Small Island states are suffering from climate change to the extent that it may be too late for many of them. The most recent island to sound the alarm is Kiribati, which suffers from a lack of rainfall.

By virtue of the Convention, all of the Parties have shared but distinct responsibilities:

Collect and share information about greenhouse gas emissions, national policies and best practices.

Implement national strategies to address the problem of greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the expected impacts of climate change, and also identify a way to provide financial and technological support to developing countries.

Collaborate to prepare for, and adapt to, the effects of climate change. 

High participation by global leaders, curiosity about the impact on the upcoming COP in Paris in 2015 (in terms of Kyoto objectives achieved and new commitments), and the recent agreement between the US and China on emission reduction have increase expectations about the COP20 in Lima.