Muted response to Lima climate agreement

15th December 2014

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Climate negotiators have agreed the main aspects of a new global deal to tackle climate change but there is a significant amount of work to do to agree the detail, observers say.

The UNFCCC talks in Lima, Peru ended in the early hours of Sunday morning after they overran by more than 30 hours.

The agreement, known as the "Lima call for climate action", commits all signatory countries to action to cut carbon emissions, and reiterates the aim to restrict temperature rises to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

A draft negotiating text will be drawn up by May 2015, ahead of the final talks in Paris in December, according to the document. Countries should set out their intended emissions cuts by the first quarter of 2015, it says.

The UNFCCC will report on the expected impact of these contributions by November, but does not have the power to ask countries to change them if they are inadequate. The EU was pushing for formal scrutiny of pledges, while others, including India and China, were resistant.

The call for climate action notes that the UNFCCC has "grave concerns" about the "significant gap" between what is expected from countries' mitigation pledges and what is needed to hold global temperature rise below 2°C.

The document does not confirm whether the final outcome from the Paris talks will be legally binding or not, leaving it open to be "a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force".

It also does not further the issue of climate finance, with no agreement on whether there should be scrutiny of how developing nations spend cash from developed countries through the green climate fund.

Energy and climate secretary Ed Davey said: "The talks were tough but the Lima call for climate action shows a will and commitment to respond to the public demand to tackle climate change."

James Cameron, chair of Climate Change Capital, criticised the talks for having "a pathology of delay and brinkmanship". However, he maintained that progress had been made.

"There are better quality discussions of what to do, and how. There is more purpose, more collaborative resource on hand and there are many leaders of constituencies who can mobilise voters, consumers, investors, inventors and entrepreneurs. Above all consciousness has changed," he said.

Nick Molho, executive director of the Aldersgate Group, said that "significant work" remains to be done in 2015 if the world is to prevent dangerous levels of climate change. Businesses have a key role to play in speaking louder in favour of a global deal, he said.

Environmental campaign groups were highly critical of the outcome. Friends of the Earth accused industrialised countries of bullying poorer nations, while WWF described the agreement as "bitterly disappointing".

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