By Lang Banks, Director of WWF Scotland (a member of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland)
So, the talks are over, as is my time in Lima. It’s just a pity that I am unable to report a more positive outcome.
As is the norm at UN climate negotiations, the talks ran way over time – by a whole day and a half in the end. Many of the exhausted delegates and observers had begun to nod off as the gavel finally fell, just after one in the morning on Sunday.
The governments who gathered in Lima will want to say they had a success here, but the only real success is that they managed to settle on a deal at all.
The final outcome is really disappointing. There is a huge amount of unfinished business for countries to try and resolve before next year’s talks in Paris if we’re to stand a chance of securing a new global climate deal that’s both fair and ambitious.
However, the governments at least said that they are going to be ready for Paris. So, I guess we are all just going to have to hold them to account on that.
“Quite simply, developed countries didn’t put enough on the table to win the trust of others and secure real commitment to increase ambition,” said Sara Cowan of Oxfam Scotland, who was with me in Lima representing Stop Climate Chaos Scotland.
Certainly there wasn’t enough offered up here in the way of long-term commitments on finance, on effective action to reduce emissions, or to build resilience in those countries most vulnerable to climate change. The final agreement also failed to acknowledge the urgent need to peak and reduce emissions by the end of this decade.
There’s currently a yawning gap between what the Lima outcome commits nations to do and the scale of what the climate science is telling us has to happen. Worse still, these commitments are not yet enough to protect those most vulnerable to climate impacts, but least responsible for causing the problem.
If there’s any silver lining, then it’s that outside of these talks civil society, along with businesses, cities, and a host of others are already acting with urgency. Governments too can do things outside of these talks, which is why countries like Scotland, along with other forward thinking nations, need to ensure they actually deliver on their existing pledges to cut emissions at home.
In the case of Scotland, with our three missed climate targets, that means putting at least the same amount of effort into reducing emissions from transport, housing and other sectors as is successfully being put in to harnessing clean energy from renewables.
It’s clear that significantly more effort and commitment is going be needed from all sides. However, global leaders and negotiators cannot leave it all to happen in Paris in December 2015. We need most of the outstanding issues resolved before we even get there. That is why we need the public to keep pushing our governments every step of the way to Paris and beyond.
So, with lots still to do, we’re certainly not going to wait a whole year before we begin to step up the pressure again.
Lang Banks was attending the UN climate conference in Lima as an official SCCS delegate