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Postcards from Peru: A diary from the UN climate talks

 

I’m in Lima for the UN climate talks which run 1-12 December. I’ll be regularly tweeting and blogging. If you find this blog interesting please feel to share it.

DAY 0 – Sunday 30 November 2014

I’ve arrived in Lima, Peru, where the 20th UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties (COP20) begins today, and will continue through long days and nights for the next two weeks.

As you can probably guess, the UNFCCC COP process is a world of acronyms, texts and draft texts, Annexes, Workstreams and Protocols. But at the heart of it all is a very basic question: will the governments assembled here put in place the necessary measures and provide sufficient finance to ensure that a global climate deal can be concluded in 2015?

The Amazon rain forest. Loreto region, Peru.Peru itself is a country of 30 million people and is jaw-droppingly diverse. From the Pacific Ocean in the west, to borders with Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, Bolivia and Chile, the Andes mountain range, Amazon Basin, glaciers, over 50 ethnic groups and unique species such as the famous ‘Paddington’ spectacled bear- Peru is a kaleidoscope of diversity.

In a continent where the impacts of climate change are already being felt, from megacities to rainforest, we are also seeing, as in the UK and around the world, increasing public and political momentum behind action for change.

Lima is important, and action here is urgent, because it is the last meeting before the COP 21 in Paris in December 2015, where world leaders need to conclude a global deal on climate.

As environmental charities, scientists, and world leaders converge in Peru, we’re starting from a more positive place than previous COPs. We’ve seen the big hitters, China and the US, make public pledges on their readiness to commit to emissions reductions – where in previous years tense stand-offs between the two titans of emissions have almost brought negotiations to a halt.

The Walney offshore windfarm, Cumbria, UKWe’ve also seen pledges from countries, including the UK, on their contributions to the Green Climate Fund- the global fund to help developing countries adapt to the impacts of climate change, and ensure low-emissions development. These moves will help mitigate frustrations many developing countries have expressed with the industrialised nations’ perceived failure to move fast enough, as well as setting the tone for ambition, equity and progress at these talks. The political momentum is building. These moves, however, should be seen as ‘opening bids’ rather than the end of the story.  It is essential that governments make climate change a top political priority and leave Lima with a strong foundation for success in Paris.

By the end of the Lima talks, we need to see significant increases in industrialised nations’ emissions reductions commitments if we are to get anywhere close to closing the ‘gigatonne gap’ – the gap between what we are pledging to reduce and what science says we must reduce. We must also agree a global goal- including finance – to help the poorest and most vulnerable around the world adapt to the impacts of climate change; and finally we must make sure that science and equity are the foundation stone of the global deal which must be concluded in Paris this time next year.

For all the latest on the climate talks be sure to follow @LangBanks  @WWFScotland and @LeoHickman @WWF_UK on Twitter.

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