Peruvian Minister, President of 2014 UN Climate Talks, Addresses Challenges of Year Ahead
WARSAW -- The
president of the next UN climate summit, Peruvian Minister of Environment Manuel
Pulgar-Vidal, says the fate of the planned 2015 global agreement on climate
change will depend largely on what is accomplished next year at the Conference
of the Parties in Lima.
The current negotiations in Warsaw have been
caught up in swirls of controversy, from walkouts and near-walkouts, to
Pulgar-Vidal's predecessor, Marcin Korolec, getting sacked as Poland's minister
of environment during the talks (Korolec will stay on as COP president), to
criticism of the talks' ties to Poland's dirty-burning coal industry, and a
general lack of significant progress in negotiations. But Pulgar-Vidal says the
process is still moving forward and he envisions it picking up steam over the
coming year, regardless of the final outcome in Warsaw. Countries are aiming to
sign the agreement at a Paris summit in 2015 so it can go into effect no later
Pulgar-Vidal spoke to Bloomberg BNA about the challenges
ahead on the sidelines of the Warsaw talks on Friday. The conversation took
place in Spanish.
Q: You said before the talks started here that you
envisioned Lima being a kind of intermediate step between Warsaw and Paris in
2015. But it looks like very little will be accomplished
in Warsaw, which means there will be only Lima and Paris available to cover the
same ground expected to be covered over three meetings. How much does that
A: It's an interesting question that I could answer in one
of two ways. The first is that if we see the process as Warsaw and then Lima and
then Paris, as if they were three isolated parts, then it all looks very
pessimistic. But if we look at it as a unified process that goes from one part
to the next as part of the same thing, then whatever steps forward we take are
positive. The progress being made in Warsaw may not be obvious but it is helping
prepare for what's next. That's the first response.
Q: And the
A: The second is that we have a clear mandate. We must come
up with a draft text for May 2015. So we have to look at next year's meetings as
an opportunity. We can't wait for the last minute. I'm pushing to have a strong
draft ready by the end of the talks in Lima, and we're working on innovative
strategies to unblock and promote progress.
Q: Does that include at
least initial emissions reduction targets in Lima for the 2015 agreement? I ask
because I know some countries, including the U.S., have been pushing to provide
those targets in early 2015.
A: We need them in Lima. That’s
Q: How will you do that? You talked about using innovative
strategies. What do you have in mind?
A: We're working on things now
but I don't have anything I can describe to you now. But by the end of January I
think we'll have some idea of how we're going to approach the problems we face.
And obviously, these ideas will be developed with the cooperation of the three
countries: Poland, Peru, and France. If we want to have a strong draft in Lima,
then we have to ask ourselves, how do we get there? At what time do we need the
key elements? Where will the support come from? And how do we negotiate it? I
can't make a draft out of nothing.
Q: And what are the answers to
A: Well, we still have to figure most of that out.
But an essential part will be to have some idea of countries' ambitions [for
emissions reductions] in Lima.
Q: One of the criticisms here in
Warsaw is that the conference is sponsored by companies that
pollute--traditional energy companies and carmakers and so on. Is that something
you'll avoid in Lima?
A: Organizing and hosting a COP can cost $80
million, which is a lot for a country like Peru. We can't do it alone. We're
going to have to rely on a mix of public funds and funds from other sources,
whether multilateral groups, international organizations or private companies.
We haven't made any decisions about what organizations will back the meetings
yet. But I can say we won't use support from any group that would reflect badly
on what we are trying to accomplish.
Q: Usually the pre-COP planning
meeting is in the same country as the COP. But next year the pre-COP will be in
Venezuela. How does that change things?
A: That agreement was part of
a compromise and we think Venezuela will be very effective in enlisting the help
of civil society, which is very important. The pre-COP is a time to listen,
it's a time to look for consensuses. But we must remember the pre-COP is a
preparatory meeting. There is no negotiating going on there. But it can
certainly help assure that the Lima COP has a good start.
talked in the past about four priorities in the Lima talks: mitigation, finance,
nationally appropriate mitigation actions, and "differentiation" -- changing the
way the rich-poor divide is approached. This is very interesting. Can you
A: The 2015 agreement can't be like Kyoto. We can't use
the same architecture. We aren't going to forget that rich countries and poor
countries have different responsibilities and capabilities, but we need to try
to make sure each country does as much as it can and I don't think trying to
place countries in pre-defined categories will help. Each country has its
homework to do before they get to Lima and we will base our negotiations on that