As Lima Talks Enter Second Week, Delegates Turn to Text for 2015 Global Climate Pact

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By Eric J. Lyman

Dec. 8 — Negotiations began Dec. 8 in Lima on the first draft of the text for the 2015 global climate change agreement, including discussion of emissions reduction targets for all countries and long-term financial targets starting in 2020.

And as the United Nations' Lima climate summit entered its second week, work also began on draft text of the conference package of results—Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Peru’s minister of environment and the president of the talks, called it the “Lima spirit”—which should be finalized by the penultimate day of the talks, Dec. 11, and voted on by the full plenary a day later.

Delegates also prepared for the launch of the high-level segment of the negotiations, with minister-level delegation heads and a few heads of state or government.

As of Dec. 8, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Mexico and the Republic of Nauru, along with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, are expected to send head-of-state level delegations to the high-level segment, which runs Dec. 9–12. Other countries will send minister-level delegation heads to the segment that will finalize the main conclusions of the Lima negotiations.

Two well-informed UN sources also told Bloomberg BNA that the new chairs of the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP)—the negotiating track for the draft text—will be Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environment in the U.S. Department of State Dan Reifsnyder and Algerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs official Ahmed Djoghlaf. The official announcement will be made later this week.

Reifsnyder and Djoghlaf will take over from current co-chairs Artur Runge-Metzger from the European Union and Trinidad and Tobago’s Kishan Kumarsingh, whose terms expire at the end of the year. The change is important, since Reifsnyder and Djoghlaf will shepherd negotiations for the 2015 agreement through their final steps leading into and including the Paris summit next December.

Phasing Out Fossil Fuels

The 2015 draft text, which will be negotiated through the end of the Lima talks and during at least three sets of intersessional talks next year before the Paris summit, includes the goal of emissions reductions from all countries—whether in absolute terms, with respect to carbon intensity, or stated as a deviation from a business-as-unusual scenario.

It also calls for a phaseout of fossil fuels by 2050, includes space for a global financial goal and post-2020 financial targets, and opens the door for negotiations for the first time to an adaptation goal of some kind in the 2015 agreement.

In addition, the draft includes a third set of deadlines for the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs)—promises from individual countries for internal action on climate change. A year ago at the climate conference in Warsaw, delegates agreed that submissions for countries able to do so should be made by March 2015 with other countries, presumably poor economies that lack the resources to pull the information together quickly, “encouraged” to provide the information “well ahead of” the Paris talks.

The draft now includes an intermediate May 3, 2015, deadline for countries unable to meet the March deadline.

Review Period

The draft also includes a “review period” for submissions in the second half of 2015, but officials differed on whether the review should be used to lobby for countries to take on more aggressive targets.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres said a week ago that changes were unlikely in the short term. But speaking in a briefing Dec. 8, Figueres opened the door to that possibility.

In another briefing, European Union Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete, who will head the EU delegation during the high-level segment of the talks, allowed there might be some “adjustments” to targets during the review period.

And U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern, in remarks to the press, said the review period could lead to stronger targets, though not necessarily before Paris.

“We see the review period as a kind of sunshine process, where other countries can review and discuss each other’s targets,” Stern said. “You’d be surprised, but countries, even big powerful countries, care about that.”

Differences on INDCs

The main issue left out of the draft is the nature of the INDCs. The U.S., the EU, and most large industrialized countries believe that the INDCs should include only emissions reduction promises, leaving other aspects such as financial contributions, adaptation initiatives and technology transfer to appear in other parts of the text.

Developing countries, by contrast, want those elements to be allowed inside INDCs—in part to ensure that they are prioritized and in part to give those countries a way to participate, aside from emissions reductions.

Elina Bardram, a senior EU negotiator, told Bloomberg BNA last week that focusing on emissions reduction targets in the INDCs made it easier to compare pledges and was true to the original idea of INDCs when they were created four years ago during talks in South Africa.

Africa Group delegate Alice Waters told Bloomberg BNA that while INDCs originally were intended to include only emissions reduction targets, it made more sense to broaden their mandate.

“The process is evolving and it makes the most sense to package the various aspects together in a single set of targets,” Waters said.

Legally Binding, or Not 

Peruvian government sources told Bloomberg BNA that while the 2015 text will be legally binding based on previous decisions, it is not yet clear whether the INDCs themselves—which will appear in a separate annex—will be legally binding. The U.S. continues to oppose making the INDCs legally binding, but a growing consensus among other countries is that they should be binding, according to sources.

“The overwhelming majority of countries want the INDCs to be legally binding,” Ruth Davis, a Greenpeace U.K. activist, said at a briefing.

The draft text still left out many key points, including whether the commitment period that starts when the 2015 text goes into effect in 2020 should last five or 10 years. A compromise solution under discussion in the negotiations, according to the EU’s Arias Cañete, is to include both a 2025 and 2030 target in the text.

Also, some delegates said they wished to see adaptation goals within the text linked to climate. If temperatures rise more than expected it would trigger stronger commitments to adaptation funding. That topic was under discussion, but left out of the first draft of the text.

Official Communiqué 

One of the most problematic issues in the text is the issue of “differentiation”—how to define the difference between rich and poor countries and whether the two (or more) groups should have different types of obligations in the 2015 treaty. The breakdown of 36 industrialized Annex I countries and the rest of the world as non-Annex I used in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol is not expected to be continued in the 2015 text.

The Lima package of results will be the official communiqué released on the final day of the talks, including all the accomplishments of the meetings. While progress will be made on the 2015 draft text, it is not expected to be completed until next year’s Paris summit. Lima is expected to see an agreement on financial goals, gender issues within the climate context, and efforts to reduce emissions before the new agreement enters into force in 2020.

“Delegates will go through these issues line by line, comma by comma, to find an agreement,” UNFCCC’s Figueres said, noting most of the work will be done by high level delegation heads.

Pulgar-Vidal, the COP president, will start the ball rolling on that part of the process with a late-night stocktaking session scheduled for Dec. 8. The results of that, combined with the multilateral assessment that ran Dec. 6–8, will form the basis of the communiqué.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eric J. Lyman in Rome at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Greg Henderson at