If we go on like this, we will not always have Paris…


Differences of opinion between developed and developing countries were insurmountable

Nobody was satisfied with the result, least of all environmental organizations

The capital of Peru hosted the 20th Conference on Climate Change held by the UNO, attended by more than ten thousand representatives from 195 different countries. After two weeks and a 25-hour extension, no definitive agreement could be reached. The countdown is nearly over: the COP to be held in Paris, in 2015, will be the last chance.

It is not by chance that, when we meet somebody we do not know in the lift -after asking them which floor they are going to and once the first awkward moments are over- the weather is always the first subject we come up with. “It’s cold, it seems it is going to rain… Let’s hope the sun shines after the rain”. Deep inside we know, from the very first periods in the history of mankind, how important climate is for our daily life. Nevertheless, arrogant intelligence of mankind has been unable to realize how necessary it is to take good care of it, and it therefore has acted irresponsibly towards the environment we live in. Increasingly common environmental disasters -such as the melting of the polar ice-caps or the destruction of forests and the ozone layer- have eventually raised public awareness. Best-regarded scientists and universities all over the world have been raising the alarm for years: by 2100, the Earth will suffer a 4ºC increase in temperature, which will bring about severe droughts, floods and rising sea levels. Before the very eyes of unconcerned citizens, the situation will unavoidably lead to the extinction of thousands of species, famines and entire populations having to leave their homes. This is already happening, and it certainly does not look like a paradise for the new generations to be raised in. Will we be able to move in the opposite direction and make decisions to avoid awful consequences for the future of mankind?

In the first fortnight of December, Lima held top-level political negotiations in order to find solutions for global warming, thus preventing its negative impact on the planet. The aim was to reach the required consensus to draw up a Roadmap where new committments from states were agreed upon in terms of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, so that from 2020 onwards GHG may be gradually reduced.

The COP held in Lima should make history” stated Christina Figueres -Executive Secretary of the Conference of the Parties for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change- in her opening speech. Agreements to slow down global warming had been at a standstill in the last few editions, and optimism was somewhat in the air after China and the USA -the world’s two largest polluters- moved closer to each other. Thus, an essential change was expected when distributing the share of responsibilities between developed nations and developing countries.

In the red 

The main tasks the delegates devoted themselves to are listed below. Task performance was closely monitored by the press and by observers, and it took into account the specific features of the national and regional development priorities of the delegates, as well as their goals and circumstances. The tasks are listed as follows:

a) Gather and share information on greenhouse gases, national policies and best practices.

b) Launch national strategies to tackle the issue of GHG emissions issue and adapt to the impacts climate change is expected to bring about, as well as establish funding and technological support to developing countries.

c) Cooperate to prepare for and adapt to the effects of climate change.

After all, it was the same over and over again: in the red when it comes to recalling. Opinion differences between developed and developing countries were insurmountable. It was all sound and fury; so much of that eventually led to… the end. The conference reached a minima agreement at its very end, signed by the 195 countries that were present, after a 25-hour extension period. Last-minute settings were agreed upon after two weeks of previous debate that led nowhere. Nobody was satisfied with the result, least of all environmental organizations, which considered the agreement reached was not enough.

“Climate negotiations were a failure. Governments failed miserably at reaching an agreement on specific plans to reduce emissions by 2020, which would lay the foundations to finish the fossil fuel age and speed up transition to renewable energies and higher energy efficiency”, mentioned Samantha Smith, leader of WWF’s Global Climate and Energy Initiative.

According to Oxfam, “Decisions made in Lima do not exclude the possibility of reaching an agreement in Paris, but they were of little use in increasing the chances of success”.

Be that as it may, approved suggestions will now be used as a base for the conference to be held in Paris at the end of 2015 with a view to reaching a definitive agreement that replaces the Kyoto Protocol.

by Dylan Tarín

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