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FEATURE: Peru will look for global progress on climate change in 2014

Also posted in Spanish

The confirmation that Peru will host the  UNFCCC’s 20th Conference of the Parties in 2014 has created ripples in the Latin American news media. Jorge Villanueva of CDKN Latin America and Caribbean, who is based at Sociedad Peruana de Derecho Ambiental (Peruvian Society of Environmental Law or SPDA) in Lima, interviews Peruvian government and opinion leaders about their vision for the Conference.

The Ministry of Environment of Peru (MINAM) has responded with optimism and expectation to their new assignment: to host the UNFCCC’s CoP20. At this conference,  more than 190 countries will gather to make progress towards the 2015 global agreement – an agreement that is intended to include concrete and binding commitments to address climate change.

“Peru is a country absolutely committed to the negotiations and its progress in dealing with climate change. We are committed to the Durban Platform agreement and we know that in Warsaw 2013, Lima 2014 and Paris 2015 we will come to a binding climate agreement, for the planet, for the people and for our citizens. Those of us who serve the public are aware that our fundamental priority is our people, especially the most vulnerable, those who suffer the consequences of climate change,” said Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Minister of Environment, to a meeting of delegates at the UNFCCC’s conference in Bonn last month.

According to Pulgar-Vidal, Peru sees this challenge as “recognition” by the world´s delegates that this is “a country committed not only to development, but also to recognising the wellbeing of its people, that understands that this development must be based on low carbon emissions.”

The negotiations agenda

The importance of achieving a binding global agreement under the principles of “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capacities,” following the outlines of the Durban Platform, is an important issue for Eduardo Durand, Director of Climate Change, Desertification and Hydrological Resources for MINAM. He confirms that although countries like Peru have voluntarily committed themselves to reduce emissions, overall global emissions still remain far too high and countries without sufficient (or any) emissions reductions targets remain to be influenced.

For this reason, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, Guatemala and Peru will work together to drive forward a recognition of the Durban Platform and its implementation. They will be looking to prevent bilateral “hard positions” from other governments, which could impede global agreement. This group of Latin American countries has in common a “consensual position” and the desire to build bridges among diverse countries’ interests and positions – some of which currently seem implacable!

Adaption to climate change is also a very important issue for developing countries although it is comparatively less advanced than the emissions reduction agenda, in the global climate talks. Pedro Solano, Executive Director of SPDA, considers it essential to pursue climate adaptation strategies based on ecosystems: including natural infrastructure and compensatory habitats to replace ecosystem features that were lost in the past.  In this way “it is hoped that at national level, priority is given to the management of forests and meeting the zero deforestation goal,” he said. “[We also need to] update concepts such as the role of protected areas in climate change and [we must] pursue an oceanic management strategy for the sustainable provision of food.” Solano also considers it essential to make decisions regarding the protection of glaciers for the next 40 years, at a regional and national level.

Climate justice is another important area that requires progress. Solano takes the view that the goals in the 2015 climate agreement should have a bearing on the accumulated emissions and on the historical responsibility of the signatory countries. “[Each country’s emissions history], together with its climate vulnerability, should allow a better mapping of which responsibility corresponds to each country. Climate justice should allow that the goals and responsibilities are viable and seek an equilibrium of roles, which will in turn allow an equilibrium on the planet,” Solano added. (For alternative views on climate justice, see the CDKN blog on the Climate Justice Dialogue, and the Energeia project on Working Together for Bold Outcomes.)

The fundamental role of civil society

The participation of civil society organisations at the previous UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (CoPs) has been fundamental to position key themes: generating a healthy alternative and complementary vision, according to Solano. What’s more, civil society organisations have amplified issues from the CoPs to the broader public. Their role, Solano says, is “to generate and share information, such as establishing spaces for dialogues to aid decision making, and also to monitor the coherence of the Parties’ positions, watch and advise. Their participation is essential to the legitimacy of the process.”

The UNFCCC negotiations in context

The G8 summit meeting in Northern Ireland recently finished, culminating in the Lough Erne Declaration, by which leader recognised that climate change increases economic risk and global insecurity. They pledged to work together within the UNFCCC to achieve a new protocol or other binding legal instrument by 2015.  On the road to the 20th Conference of the Parties in 2015 in France, we recall that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon stated his intention to convene a Climate Leaders’ Summit in September 2014 in New York to focus minds on climate change and the importance of an ambitious conclusion to those discussions.

In 2014, meanwhile, the IPCC will release its latest report (the Fifth Assessment Report or AR5), which will provide an authoritative update on scientific, technical and socioeconomic knowledge relating to climate change. This will, no doubt, prove a further impetus to act, as it is a kind of ‘x-ray’ of the planet’s current climate situation, and a prognosis of its future prospects.

Image: courtesy SPDA

 

 

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