Questions and Answers on the UN climate change conference in Lima
1. Why another climate change conference?
Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol meet once a year at high level to discuss how to advance international action to combat climate change. Peru is hosting this year's conference from 1 to 12 December in Lima. It will be the UNFCCC's 20th 'Conference of the Parties' (COP 20) and the Kyoto Protocol's 10th 'Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties' (CMP 10).
The conference will include the seventh meeting of the second session of the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action. The Durban Platform has an important dual mandate:
- To draw up a legally binding new climate agreement applying to all countries, for adoption by 2015 and entry into force in 2020; and
- To identify ways to achieve further cuts in greenhouse gas emissions before 2020. This part of the mandate reflects a recognition that the emission pledges for 2020 put forward so far by over 100 countries are collectively not adequate to meet the internationally agreed goal of holding global warming below 2°C compared to the pre-industrial temperature.
2. Is climate change a real threat?
Yes, this is the consensus view among the vast majority of climate scientists.
The most recent assessment of climate science by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), to which around 2,000 climate scientists from around the world contributed, concludes that there is no doubt the climate system is warming.
It says human influence on the climate system, through emissions of greenhouse gases, is clear and there is 95-100% certainty that humankind has been the dominant cause of the warming observed since the mid-20th century. During this period the oceans have warmed, glaciers have melted, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have lost mass, Arctic sea ice has retreated and sea levels have risen. The global surface temperature has increased by around 0.85°C since reliable records started in 1880.
The report says continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and changes to the land, atmosphere and oceans in all regions of the globe. Many of these changes will persist for centuries even after emissions cease. Many extreme weather events are expected to increase in scale and frequency.
Without significant action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, by the end of this century the global surface temperature is likely to be at least 2°C higher than pre-industrial levels and potentially as much as 5°C higher, the report concludes. The international community has agreed that global warming needs to be kept below 2°C compared to the pre-industrial temperature as it is widely considered that climate change could become far more severe and dangerous beyond this level.
The IPCC report also points out that achieving the below two degree target is still within reach but urgent global efforts are required: the longer we wait, the more expensive and technologically challenging meeting this goal will become.
3. What is the EU's role in the international negotiations?
The EU has long been at the forefront of international climate negotiations and was instrumental in the development of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol. Thanks to pressure from the EU and other progressive countries, UN negotiations are under way to draw up a new global climate change agreement covering all countries to achieve greater cuts in global emissions over the rest of this decade and beyond. The aim is to keep global warming below 2°C compared to the temperature that prevailed in pre-industrial times. The EU recognises that developed countries have a responsibility to take the lead in combating climate change, however the new agreement will need to better reflect evolved economic realities and respective capabilities. Europe is committed to becoming a low-carbon, climate- resilient economy and is working hard to cut its greenhouse gas emissions substantially. The EU encouragesother nations and regions to do likewise both in the context of the multilateral discussions and through active climate policy cooperation on bilateral basis.
4. What results is the EU seeking from the Lima conference?
The climate conference in Lima will be key to achieving a successful outcome in Paris next year. In particular, Lima must ensure that:
- The key elements of the 2015 Agreement are agreed as a basis for further negotiations in 2015;
- A decision is agreed which ensures that countries come forward with proposed commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the coming months that are transparent, quantifiable and comparable;
- There is an international process before the Paris conference in 2015 to consider and analyse the ambition and adequacy of individual and aggregate commitments against the below 2 degree objective;
- Work to enhance mitigation ambition before 2020 continues.
It is essential that all Parties come forward with ambitious proposed mitigation commitments well in advance of the Paris meeting to enable enough time for the contributions to be analyzed. The EU wants the 2015 Agreement to have legal force, through robust rules, procedures and institutions, to ensure long term certainty and accountability at international level. The EU also wants to see a process for regularly reviewing and strengthening emission reduction commitments embedded in the 2015 Agreement to ensure the world stays on track to meet the below 2 degree target.
5. How would the proposed commitments be considered?
The EU believes that the ambition and fairness of Parties' proposed commitments should be considered and analysed in light of their contribution to the goal of keeping warming below 2°C. The process should use the information Parties provide when communicating their intended commitments, including objective indicators. It should be transparent and facilitate high ambition. The analysis should be guided by considerations of Parties' evolving capability and responsibility, and should take into account the need for countries to maximise the benefits of climate action in terms of sustainable development.
6. What will the EU contribute to the global climate agreement?
The EU will be ready to submit its contribution for the consideration of international partners in the first quarter of 2015, in line with the timetable agreed at the Warsaw climate conference in 2013.
In October 2014, the EU agreed its climate and energy targets for 2030. These include a legally binding cut in domestic greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, an EU-wide binding target for renewable energy of at least 27% and an indicative energy efficiency target of at least 27%. The at least 40% emissions reduction target will be the EU's contribution to the global climate agreement and keeps the EU it on track to meet its long-term goal objective. Scientific evidence shows that to prevent global warming of more than 2°C, global emissions will need to be cut by at least half of their 1990 levels by 2050 and to continue being reduced thereafter. In line with this, and in the context of the developed world’s responsibility to lead, the EU has set itself the objective of reducing its emissions by 80-95% below 1990 levels by 2050. The European Commission has published a 'roadmap' which charts a cost-effective pathway for making the transition to a competitive, low carbon European economy that this reduction will require.
7. Why does the ambition level of pre-2020 action need to be raised?
The EU and more than 90 other countries, including China and the US, have made commitments to reduce or limit their greenhouse gas emissions up to 2020. The EU's targets will be part of the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. Together, commitments cover over 80% of global emissions. Though some of these commitments are ambitious, collectively they are not ambitious enough to put the world's emissions on a path compatible with keeping global warming below 2°C. The significant gap to be bridged is confirmed in the latest 'emissions gap' report from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), published on 19 November 2014. The report concludes that current pledges would lead to warming of 3-4°C.
Research shows that the earlier global emissions peak and start declining, the greater the chance and the lower the cost of staying below 2°C. Stepping up pre-2020 action will contribute to an ambitious 2015 agreement by providing a more ambitious starting level for action to be taken from 2020 onwards. It would also deliver significant benefits in terms of sustainable development, economic growth, energy security and public health. The EU therefore believes ministerial engagement is needed on this issue in Lima.
8. What can be done to step up action pre-2020?
The EU strongly encourages Parties that have not yet done so, to make emission pledges for the period up to 2020. It is calling on all Parties to implement their commitments fully and without delay and to consider next year how they could step up efforts so that the emissions gap can be closed as soon as possible.
The EU is also calling for further international cooperation on this issue. There are substantial opportunities to reduce emissions through, inter alia, increased action on energy efficiency, renewable energy, fluorinated greenhouse gases, short-lived climate pollutants (eg methane, black carbon, ground-level ozone), land use including tropical deforestation, fossil fuel subsidy reform and aviation and maritime emissions. A variety of options can contribute to closing the gap, including directly associating key players such as local government, business and civil society.
The EU would like to see Parties use the UNFCCC as a forum to promote the visibility and transparency of international cooperation, as well as voluntarily report on international cooperative initiatives.
9. What is the EU's position on providing climate finance to developing countries?
Developed countries have committed to jointly mobilise USD 100 billion in climate finance a year by 2020 from a wide variety of sources in the context of meaningful and transparent actions to mitigate emissions in developing countries. The Green Climate Fund was launched in 2011 and became ready to accept funds from donors in 2014. Following the first pledging conference for the GCF on 20th November 2014, total commitments reached USD 9.6 billion. EU Member States have so far pledged more than USD 3.8 billion.
The EU and its Member States are together the world's biggest provider of Official Development Assistance and committed to contributing their fair share to climate finance. The EU underlines the need for fair burden sharing among developed countries. It is also calling on emerging economies to contribute to financing adaptation to climate change and mitigation of emissions in developing countries in line with their responsibilities and evolving capabilities.
While the global figure of USD 100 billion per year will come from a mix of sources - public, private, bilateral, multilateral and alternative - the EU and Member States are continuing to provide public finance. In 2013, the EU its Member States collectively provided €9.5 billion to help developing countries tackle climate change, which is composed of grants and loans.
10. What are the future prospects for climate finance contributions from the EU budget and the European Development Fund?
In the period 2014-2020, the EU budget is projected to allocate around €14 billion of pure grant finance to support climate relevant actions in partner countries outside the EU. This will be on top of all the financing provided by individual Member States. On average, this represents about €2 billion of grant funding per year. This is in line with the goal of investing at least 20% of the EU’s budget in climate-related actions during 2014-2020 both domestically within the EU, and internationally.
11. How does the EU see the task of scaling up global climate finance by 2020?
Scaling up climate finance will be an iterative process, meaning that it will have to go hand-in-hand with solid preparatory work in both developed and developing countries for scaled-up, effective action on the ground and for improving developing countries' ability to absorb climate finance from both public and private sources. Ambitious domestic climate strategies and policies in developing countries, on both mitigation of emissions and adaptation to climate change, as well as conducive regulatory frameworks will stimulate climate change actions and the financing of viable projects.
The EU has implemented various initiatives to mobilise climate-smart investment such as the EU's regional investment facilities and the Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund (GEEREF). Since 2007, the EU investment facilities have supported climate relevant projects in numerous developing countries with about €1 bn of grant funding, which led to climate relevant project financing of about €25 bn. GEEREF, a fund of funds providing (first loss) risk guarantees to investors has mobilised project investment of up to €9.5 bn.
12. What about the role of adaptation to climate change and loss and damage?
Adaptation will be a central element in the 2015 agreement. The EU is committed to continuing to support developing countries' efforts to adapt to climate change.
The 2015 agreement should underline the commitment of all countries to plan, prepare and work towards low-carbon and sustainable climate-resilient development, and should play a role in enhancing the adaptation action countries are already undertaking under the UNFCCC. It should build on and add value to the work being done through existing institutions and processes such as the Adaptation Committee and the national adaptation planning processes (NAPs).
Avoiding losses and damages from the impacts of climate change is at the core of the Climate Change Convention. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and therefore reducing the impacts of climate change is the most cost effective adaptation. However, adaptation is not a substitute to mitigation, but a risk management approach to unavoidable impacts of climate change
Lima will finalise the composition and procedures of the Executive Committee of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and damage so that this Committee can start its important work in promoting and implementing approaches to address loss and damages associated with climate change impacts without further delay.
13. What is on the agenda regarding reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation ('REDD+')?
The Commission welcomes the agreement at the Warsaw climate conference in 2013 on the technical rules for REDD+. EU Member States and the Commission now need to look to means of implementation and technical assessment. The key challenges relate to framing the role of REDD+ within a post-2020 climate regime, to be outlined in Lima and agreed in Paris. Representing a country with large climate potential in rainforests, the Peruvian Presidency lists REDD+ among its four top priorities, and has convened several fora for Indigenous Peoples in the REDD+ context.
14. When will the EU ratify the Kyoto Protocol's second commitment period?
The process of ratification is underway, with significant progress being made in parliaments across EU Member States. The EU has been applying the targets and rules of the Kyoto Protocol's second commitment period since it started on 1 January 2013. The EU, its 28 Member States and Iceland have committed to jointly achieve a 20% reduction in their combined greenhouse gas emissions over the second period compared to the level in 1990 or their other chosen base years. The measures needed for the EU to deliver on this commitment have already been put in place through the 'climate and energy package' of legislation already adopted in 2009.
The EU wants the conference in Lima to agree the package of rules covering the second commitment period. The Commission would like the EU and national ratifications to be completed by February 2015. The EU, the Member States and Iceland will then deposit their respective instruments of acceptance at the UN simultaneously, enabling the Doha amendment's entry into force at the same time for all of them.
15. What is needed in Lima to enhance the transparency of Parties' action?
Robust systems of monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of emissions and policy action are essential, both pre-and post-2020, to provide the transparency needed to maintain trust that Parties are delivering on their commitments. In Lima, a series of decisions is needed to finalise the MRV requirements and guidelines that are paramount for the smooth implementation of the Convention and of its Kyoto Protocol. In Lima, Parties will have also to advance the work on the post 2020 regime with more in-depth discussions on the transparency framework to be enshrined in the 2015 Agreement.
For developed countries, in addition to the formats for accounting for transactions under the Kyoto Protocol mentioned in point 14 above, new review guidelines are needed for Parties' inventories of greenhouse gas emissions.
The EU is looking forward to the first multilateral assessment of the European Union's progress towards implementing its 2020 commitments which will take place at the Lima Conference. The EU believes this will contribute to understanding mutual efforts and building trust and transparency and could be a model for how the MRV system could work in the future. In a post-2020 context the EU believes this process should include all major and emerging economies.
16. What is the EU doing to reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions?
The EU recognises that developed countries have a responsibility to take the lead in combating climate change. Europe is committed to becoming a highly energy-efficient, low greenhouse gas-emitting economy. It is working successfully to reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases, which account for around 10% of global emissions (including emissions from deforestation), and to continue to decouple emissions from economic growth.
With the policies and measures implemented at EU and national level over the past decade through the 2009 Climate and Energy package, the EU is on track to meet its -20% greenhouse gas emission target by 2020 compared to 1990 levels. Emissions in 2012 were 18% below 1990 levels and preliminary figures suggest they reached -19% in 2013. According to the projections provided by Member States based on existing measured, emissions are projected to be 21% in 2020 than in 1990. The EU is also on track to overachieve its Kyoto target under the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.
During the period 1990-2012, the combined GDP of the EU grew by 45 %, while emissions decreased by 18 %. As a result, the greenhouse gas emissions' intensity of the EU was reduced by almost half between 1990 and 2012. This successful decoupling between economic activity and GHG emissions occurred in all Member States.
The structural policies implemented in the field of climate and energy have contributed significantly to the EU emission reduction observed since 2005. The economic crisis contributed to less than half of the reduction observed during the 2008-2012 period.
Furthermore, the EU agreed in October 2014 its climate and energy targets for 2030. These include a cut in domestic greenhouse gas emissions of at least 40% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels (see point 6 above).
17. Who will negotiate for the European Union in Lima?
As a regional economic integration organisation, the European Union is a Party to both the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol. All 28 EU Member States are also Parties in their own right.
Italy, as current President of the Council of the European Union, and the European Commission share responsibility for leading negotiations on behalf of the EU in Lima. However, representatives from several Member States are designated as lead negotiators for the EU on specific issues and therefore also speak on the EU's behalf in the negotiations on these issues.
The Italian Presidency will ensure that the EU position is coordinated so that the EU speaks with 'one voice', even if the message is delivered by different people.