As you likely have heard, the COP20 talks wrapped earlier this morning at around 3:30 AM. The deal was done in seconds following the break for countries to review a new text tabled by the President just before midnight. He then suspended the session to give parties an hour to read the new draft. The final decision is four pages long. It should be understood not as a new “deal” for the climate, but as a 12-month work plan leading to COP21.
The new text bent in a few critical places to reflect the over-whelming concern from developing countries that the Lima decision not be allowed to weaken the 1992 framework convention. It improved language about taking action before 2020 and meeting all previous pledges to reduce emissions.
That said, it is still a weak text.
After an hour to read and consider it, the President, Peruvian Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal called the plenary back to order and then (within seconds) announced he saw consensus in the room and the text was adopted. Wild applause ensued, while climate activists reacted with shock and dismay.
However, on balance, I think the Lima decision is better than nothing. The threat from the US that it might pull out of the talks and find some other forum to negotiate climate action was chilling though subtle. Maybe it was all the more chilling for its subtlety. We need to keep the multilateral process moving forward. This text does that, but without the momentum we need.
Between now and next year at COP21 we need to keep a focus on the climate. We need to demand that Canada meet the weak pledge Harper made in Copenhagen. We must insist that Canada meet the agreed upon goal for all developed nations tabling with the UN our pledges for the new treaty to be agreed upon in Paris -- and to do so in the first quarter of 2015. We cannot let focus on climate disappear again only to be covered once an over-hyped Paris conference is about to begin.
And above all else, we need to make sure that climate change is an election issue. For those of you who have tracked these talks, seeking out my blog in the absence of mainstream news coverage in Canada, thank you. Please share your thoughts right now with your local newspapers. Write letters to the editor about how this very significant conference should have had more thorough coverage. Write about what you expect from your government at COP21. Whatever strikes you as critical, please find ways to amplify your voice and share your concerns.
Together we can make the next treaty the one that drives the world’s economy and all governments to begin the transition in earnest to get off fossil fuels. This is a moment that allows us to think like a human family. We need to make the most of 2015.
Best wishes for the holidays and thanks for staying with me in Lima.