Hottest Year on Record as Climate Talks Start in Lima

December 2nd, 2014 - by admin

United Nations News Center & Alex Morales / Bloomberg – 2014-12-02 23:58:53

Lima Conference Set to ‘Write History’
Ahead of 2015 Climate Deadline

United Nations News Center

LIMA (December 1, 2014) – The international community “must write history” on climate action and build momentum towards a new universal agreement to be adopted in 2015, a senior United Nations official declared today as she opened a two-week UN climate conference held in Lima, Peru.

“2014 is likely to be the hottest year on record and emissions continue to rise. We must act with urgency,” Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), warned in her opening address earlier this morning to the 20th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 20) to the landmark treaty.

“Here in Lima, to aspire to great heights ourselves, we must draw several critical lines of action,” she continued.

According to the conference’s agenda, countries will put forward what they propose to contribute to the planned 2015 agreement in the form of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) by the first quarter of 2015, in advance of the December 2015 conference scheduled in Paris, France, where the new universal UN-backed treaty on climate change will be adopted.

The UNFCCC is an international treaty that considers what can be done to reduce global warming and to cope with whatever temperature increases are inevitable. The COP 20, being held in the Peruvian capital through 12 December, brings together the 196 Parties to the UNFCCC, which is the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

Over the course of the next two weeks, delegates will attempt to hammer out the new universal treaty, which would enter force by 2020.

The Lima conference is intended to provide final clarity on what the INDCs need to contain, including for developing countries that are likely to have a range of options from, for example, sector-wide emission curbs to energy intensity goals.

In particular, Ms. Figueres explained, delegates are not only expected to bring a draft of the new universal agreement to the table but also delineate the technical processes behind the steps moving forward and provide clarity on how finance, technology and capacity-building will be handled.

“We must consolidate progress on adaptation to achieve political parity with mitigation, given the equal urgency of both,” she stated. “We must enhance the delivery of finance, in particular to the most vulnerable. Finally, we must stimulate ever-increasing action on the part of all stakeholders to scale up the scope and accelerate the solutions that move us all forward, faster.”

“With success in these areas, COP 20/CMP 10 is poised to deliver pre-2020 action, set the stage for a strong Paris agreement and increase ambition over time, ultimately fulfilling a long-term vision of climate neutrality in the pursuit of development that is truly sustainable for all,” she concluded.

News Tracker: past stories on this issue
UN official sees upcoming Lima climate talks as ‘stepping stone’ for universal treaty

Climate: Now or Never:
Hottest Year Ever Adds Urgency to Drive for Climate Steps

Alex Morales / Bloomberg

LIMA (December 1, 2014) — With 2014 on track to be the world’s hottest on record, United Nations officials pressed for urgent action to prevent the most damaging impacts of climate change at the opening of an annual summit on global warming in Lima.

“There has never been so much scientific evidence of the severe and irreversible social and natural effects of climate change,” said Manuel Pulgar Vidal, the Peruvian environment minister presiding over the two-week UN conference. “Never has it been so clear that the window of opportunity to reduce emissions is closing quickly.”

Greenhouse gas emissions reached a record high in 2013, the UN’s World Meteorological Organization said in September. Global temperatures are on track to be the hottest since records began, surpassing 2010, according to preliminary data the agency will publish Dec. 3. The January through October period was the hottest ever.

Envoys from more than 190 nations are meeting to draft an agreement they can adopt in December 2015 to cap greenhouse gases in all nations as the UN tries for the first time to apply limits beyond the industrialized world.

The meeting follows an agreement last month between President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping, leaders of the world’s two biggest economies, to accelerate efforts to cut greenhouse gases. The accord would help push other nations to negotiate a global pact next year in Paris, they said.

Superstorm Sandy
Across the US, a series of weather anomalies — from a record West Coast drought to Midwest flooding and Superstorm Sandy — are gradually helping to shift public opinion on climate change, according to recent polls. Two in three Americans now believe global warming is real, according to an October survey of 1,275 people by Yale and George Mason universities. That’s up from 57 percent in January 2010.

A Global Push to Save the Planet
The top UN officials on climate change, Christiana Figueres, who heads the agency organizing the talks, and Rajendra Pachauri, who heads the panel of scientists assessing research on global warming, both signaled the need to speed up action. Two decades of efforts have failed to slow the growth of emissions blamed for warming.

Delegates in Lima must “put on the table a draft for a new universal climate agreement” to be completed in Paris, Figueres told delegates. The accord must clarify how nations will submit planned actions on climate change. She also called for stepped-up efforts to channel climate aid to the most vulnerable countries.

“The more we disrupt our climate the more we risk severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts,” Pachauri said. “The longer we delay, the more difficult, the more intractable and the more expensive actions will be.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Morales in London at

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