Lima Discussions Dominated by Question of How to Pay for Climate Change Mitigation

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By Eric J. Lyman

Dec. 4 — Talks on finance took center stage Dec. 4 at the Lima climate change conference, with debate heating up over the language that should be used to refer to financial obligations in the text of next year's international agreement to address global warming.

The head of China’s delegation classified the amounts of money being discussed to help poor countries adapt to climate change as “inadequate,” again highlighting ongoing tension between developed and developing countries over financial obligations to mitigate and respond to environmental changes.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, organizers of the conference, have said finance issues are one major area where they expect significant progress in the talks, which run through Dec. 12.

But in discussions Dec. 4, the U.S. led a group of developed countries opposed to classifying countries as either industrialized or unindustrialized for purposes of helping to determine financial obligations. And Switzerland said the agreement should include no financial obligations at all for wealthy countries that extended beyond 2020.

Criticism From China

China delegation head Su Wei raised eyebrows by criticizing emissions-reduction efforts from rich countries before 2020. He also said that efforts to provide funds for poor countries to adapt to the impacts of climate change were too modest. Rich nations have pledged nearly $10 billion to the Green Climate Fund for use in 2015, but also have set a goal of being able to provide $100 billion in 2020.

“The gap between current efforts and the [2020] target are too large,” Su said in a briefing.

In his remarks, Su reiterated an earlier promise that China’s emissions would peak “around 2030.” The promise was first made a month ago at the Group of 20 summit after a bilateral discussion on the topic between China and the U.S., the world’s two leading emitters of greenhouse gas.

‘Non-Paper' Points

Twelve days of talks in Lima are supposed to end with significant progress toward a climate deal, which would be finalized in Paris late in 2015.

Delegates representing poor countries Dec. 4 pushed strongly for negotiations to turn to discussing specific parts of draft text of that agreement, criticizing the co-chairs of the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action—the negotiating track for the draft text—for delaying the formal start of discussions on the actual language.

But those co-chairs, Artur Runge-Metzger and Kishan Kumarsingh, said they would release what they call “non-paper” or “elements text” Dec. 5, highlighting talks so far as a way to spark more debate and reach some points of convergence.

“It’s essential the non-paper include the key elements so that discussion can start in earnest in order to achieve a result that is based on science and is adequate and fair,” Mohamed Adow, a veteran climate activist with Christian Aid, said in an interview.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eric J. Lyman in Lima at correspondents@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Greg Henderson at ghenderson@bna.com