Lima discussions patch together compromise to pave way for ParisJanuary 2015
Developed countries, which have caused most of the world’s pollution, should help to finance “vulnerable” developing nations to combat climate change, UN members agreed last month.
The call for international aid was one of the proposals thrashed out in two weeks of debates at the UN’s 2014 climate conference in Lima, Peru, with the eventual aim of limiting global emissions to 2C above pre-industrial levels.
However, the call for more help from richer nations to cut global carbon emissions was hotly contested.
The document produced by the conference will be reviewed to create UN climate change policy at the 2015 summit in Paris, expected in December.
Delegates from 194 countries decided national pledges on action should be submitted early in 2015 and that targets should exceed present commitments. UN officials would report on the pledges in November.
Matching the conference mood, many vigils in large cities, including Washington DC, London, Jerusalem, Tokyo and Sydney, were lit with solar lamps instead of candles.
For every lamp used the international charity SolarAid delivered two to African rural communities, enabling children to study and read after dark.
Businesses should have legally binding emissions limits from 2020, the CBI, the UK employers’ body, proposed in a conference paper.
The CBI wanted more funding for climate change measures, particularly from the private finance sector, and more support for innovations, such as carbon capture and storage, whereby waste carbon dioxide is locked in geological locations, often underground.
Another suggestion was more carbon pricing, under which businesses are charged for emissions, and the linking of existing carbon markets.
John Cridland, the CBI director-general, said: “Business not only has a responsibility to tackle climate change. It’s key to the solution. By developing cutting-edge products and innovative services across the globe, companies are critical to cutting emissions and creating a green economy.
“[The] climate conference in Paris is the golden opportunity to create the long-term frameworks that will give business the confidence and security it needs to play its part.”
Faster progress was urged by an alliance representing large European companies, including BT, Philips, Shell and Unilever.
The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group wants strong climate plans from political leaders by March.
Philippe Joubert, the group’s chair, said: “A bold international agreement in 2015, coupled with stable national policy frameworks and a credible carbon price, are essential for boosting business investment in scalable low-carbon solutions.”
In Latin America SABMiller, the multinational drinks group, is to form partnerships to tackle the water risks it shares with communities.
Under a water-conserving policy revealed at the summit, the company aims to cut consumption to three litres per litre of beer produced and 1.8 litres per litre of soft drinks, and to halve carbon dioxide emissions from all its breweries.
It is encouraging other businesses in the region to follow suit.
The need to reduce environmentally undesirable energy production in South Asia was emphasised in a report coinciding with the summit.
Environmentalists have already warned of more disasters if the world does not end its fossil fuel dependence by 2050.
Yet South Asia is increasing its use of polluting fuels, says the report.
Ram Kishan, co-author of the report, from Christian Aid and Climate Action South Asia (CAN-SA), said: “All countries in the South Asian region are currently planning to expand their use of fossil fuel.
“India plans to more than double its coal output in coming decades, and Bangladesh and Pakistan depend heavily on natural gas, but are also looking to develop new coal power.
“However, the potential for energy efficiency and renewable energy development is huge, especially solar, wind, geothermal and sustainable developed hydro power and biofuels.”
Sanjay Vashist, director of CAN-SA, emphasised that adopting efficient low-carbon methods needed political courage and international support.
Wealthy nations should promise bigger emissions cuts by 2020, said the environment charity Friends of the Earth, one of the critics of the summit decisions.
The group wants commitments to ensure clean, community-controlled energy for the two billion people without electricity and promises of the finance and technology to provide it.
“The world can still prevent catastrophic climate change. All that’s lacking is backbone from our political leaders,” said Asad Rehman, the group’s international climate campaigner.
After the conference he protested: “The only thing these talks have achieved is to reduce the chances of a fair and effective agreement to tackle climate change in Paris.
“Once again poorer nations have been bullied by the industrialised world into accepting an outcome which leaves many of their citizens facing the grim prospect of catastrophic climate change.”
Sam Smith, climate policy chief of the environment group WWF, said the document went “from weak to weaker to weakest”.
Helen Dennis, Christian Aid’s senior poverty and inequality adviser, attacked politicians: “The UK government needs to stop dithering and come out strongly in favour of a standalone climate goal … Leadership is needed now, not later.”
However, Ed Davey, the UK’s energy secretary, believed the talks showed “will and commitment” and said: “I am proud the UK has been leading the way, by our laws on low-carbon energy and climate, by successfully championing ambitious targets to cut emissions in Europe, and with our central role in Lima.”
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