THIS REPORT FROM TCKTCKTCK December 14th
The gavel ending the 2014 UN climate meetings in Lima, Peru, struck early on Sunday morning, and while the meetings provided fresh steps towards an agreement in Paris one year from now, it’s clear there is still much to be done. The Lima agreement includes language about the need to phase out fossil fuels by mid-century, which reflects emerging global calls for a 100 percent transition to renewable energy sources, but ultimately falls far short of agreeing on the concrete actions this would require. Additionally, while the negotiations firmly established that every country, big and small, will submit national climate action pledges well ahead of the Paris meetings with a collective aim of cutting emissions enough to contain global average temperature rise to below 2DegC, governments stepped away from providing a robust way of actually assessing their commitments. This essentially means governments will be marking their own homework ahead of the critical Paris meeting – not a spectacularly inviting prospect given some countries, such as Fossil Of The Year winner Australia, have been accused of cooking the books already. The talks were also a missed opportunity for governments to move forward on supporting nations that will see loss and damage to their communities resulting from climate impacts like extreme weather. Given that yet another devastating Typhoon slammed into the Philippines during the talks, this shortcoming is seen as especially puzzling. In all, the missed opportunities in Lima mean governments will need to work far harder between now and the Paris meetings to close the gap between what they are doing, what the people want them to do, and what the science requires.