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Lima climate talks on brink of collapse, extended by 24 hours

Near-zero commitment on finance from developed world, negotiation process angers developing nations

Nitin Sethi  |  New Delhi 

After the climate change negotiations in Lima spiralled to the brink of a collapse in the wee hours of Saturday morning (time), they were extended by at least a day. A third iteration of the draft text for decisions to be taken in Lima, released at around 1 am on Saturday, promised ugly battles during the weekend, between developed and developing countries.

As countries took a break early Saturday morning to reconvene in few hours, several delegations, including the large Africa group and the Least Developed countries grouping, complained they had not even been consulted for the latest document. Many delegates rescheduled their flights to stay back on Sunday, too.

On Friday morning, developing countries, including India, resoundingly and collectively rejected the second draft Lima decision text of the co-chairs (released late on Thursday night, after being leaked). The rejection came with visible anger and frustration. The text had little to offer to developing countries.

It asked very little of developed countries to provide finance; it broke down walls of differentiation between rich and poor nations; it ignored concern that poor countries should be compensated for loss and damage caused by inaction; and it put mitigation at the heart of the 2015 global climate agreement. It went as far as asking developing countries to start providing finances, too, under the new global regime starting 2020.

The debate over this second iteration of the text was exacerbated by anger over delegates being denied entry into the negotiating room, citing lack of space.

On the other hand, the US, along with other developed countries, put forth red lines, such as refusing to budge on issues of finance and more onerous references to their obligation on adaptation, finance and technology. They also remained steadfast in blocking even a mention of ‘equity’ and ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’ in the text proposed as the Lima decision.

The meeting concluded with promising transparency, yet again. The Peruvian minister committed the ministerial and other consultations underway in parallel were only to find a solution, not to subvert the formal process.

In the early hours of Saturday, the third (and latest) version of the decision text was floated. In a departure from convention, the draft was not put on the website of the United nations Framework Convention on Climate Change at first. Hard copies of the third and latest draft were circulated at the meeting. Only half an hour was given to countries to react to this, on Friday night. Developing countries reacted with increasing anger and frustration, demanding more time for consultations. They expressed reservations about the process, with several complaining they hadn’t been consulted.

The support and applause from select developed-country delegates for the co-chairs and the Peruvian head's efforts did not find support from delegates from developing country.

As the meeting was adjourned in the wee hours of Saturday, countries began reviewing the latest draft in huddles and small groups. Among some groups, there was palpable anger at being ignored during the consultations.

The delegates were asked to return at 10 am on Saturday (time).

While the new draft had been pruned further, the key concerns of developing countries remained locked into the draft agreement. Meetings of country groups stretched through a sleepless Saturday morning, as delegations re-strategised. At the time of the filing of this report (around 8 am in Lima), developing-country groups were holding closed-door assessments and strategies.

  • The 2015 agreement and the contributions of countries under it should not be mitigation-centric
  • The 2015 agreement should be under the existing provisions of the UN Climate Convention
  • The principles of common but differentiated responsibilities and equity should at least be indirectly reflected in the decisions
  • The mitigation action of developing countries should be linked to the obligations of developed countries to provide finance and technology
  • Emissions from agriculture should not be covered in the global agreement (draft leaves the possibility open)

First Published: Sun, December 14 2014. 00:05 IST