Commentary

Peruvian Predictions

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What a year! In the last few months the climate community has orchestrated hundreds of thousands marching for climate action; world leaders and CEOs gathered in New York to show they mean business; Europe, the US and China agreed provisional targets; and the Green Climate Fund mobilised $9.3 billion.

But these announcements come as a somewhat double-edged sword for the Peruvian COP Presidency. This high profile momentum will shine a spotlight on what is likely to be a modest set of negotiations. The agenda in Lima is mostly about preparing the ground work for 2015. Setting out the rules and guidelines; balancing the texts to be inclusive of all agendas and cementing progress made so far before the 2020 agreement kicks in. Hardly much to excite world leaders.

Where will the political dramas unfold?

One of the most telling signs of Lima’s success will be how the events from outside of the negotiations penetrate the inside. The negotiations have a history of developing in isolation from the realities on the ground until the leaders step in. But such significant momentum from the past few months will need to land somewhere; the political space ahead of Paris has expanded. Peru will face the unusual task of channelling better politics, this usually upsets the conventional negotiators who aren’t used to having their political master intervene. One interesting case is how China’s diplomatic alliances with the US are likely to ruffle a few feathers amongst its more traditional allies such as India and Brazil, who may look elsewhere to secure their negotiation interests. In effect, the momentum could either serve to fragment existing alliances, or through stubbornness reinforce them.

The political energy in the run up to Paris has predominately been driven by a focus on bottom up mitigation offers. The recent announcements from the US, China and EU all initiate this. The last intercessional in Bonn exposed some of these tensions. Many developing countries called for more political parity between the mitigation offers (known as the intended nationally determined contributions – INDCs) and the finance and adaptation agendas. Paris will need to be more than just the sum of the bottom up mitigation offers. Finance, adaptation, legal form and the review (including the long-term goal) will be core elements of the 2015 outcome, and Lima will frame how these are treated.

Lima for Latin America

Lima is not only the curtain raiser for Paris, but also a pivotal moment for Latin America. The Peruvian COP Presidency has made it clear that it wants to use the COP as a platform to showcase the region’s climate actions and empower non-state actors within the region. This will be vital in order to secure domestic political momentum in the region up to and beyond Paris. Latin America is a culturally rich geography with political opinions that span the spectrum. Solidarity amongst these countries on climate change is no mean feat.

Latin America is going to be a key venue to providing a check on the emerging G2 political dynamic. No longer can Europe be taken for granted to weigh in on the politics of climate change. Tempering the bottom up alliances being formed, initiated by the US and China is likely to be a concern for the region. Latin America, vulnerable to the impacts and taking action will need to demonstrate it can provide a counterweight to balance the emphasis on bottom up mitigation, and throw political attention onto other issues such as Adaptation and Finance.

Success in Lima

The outcome of Lima is tricky to predict. The recent announcements have expanded the political space for Paris and the political dynamics are in flux. This is both exciting and volatile. Charged by the politics on the outside, we are likely to witness some new political dynamics on the inside. Lima will need to give a clear steer for countries on how to table their offers. COP 20 will need to frame the outlines of the 2015 agreement; both on text and process. And finally, it will need to capture all the momentum built up on reducing emissions before the Paris agreement kicks in (Workstream II discussions on pre-2020 ambition).

Despite being a workmanlike COP, Lima will need to send a clear signal to world leaders, Mayors, Campaigners, CEOs and others who will play a core role in driving ambition in 2015 that the politics and process are working. It should provide no excuses for those who are sitting on the fence to get involved. 2015 is going to be an exhausting year, Lima will need to gear us up for it and set the stage for Paris.

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