Lima climate talks split on role of adaptation, finance in new deal

by Megan Rowling | @meganrowling | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Saturday, 6 December 2014 00:17 GMT

The "Black Vultures" art installation by artist Cristina Planas lines a street in Villa Wetlands, a protected natural area south of Lima Dec. 5, 2014. The installation, made up of vultures sculpted on dead palm trees, represent workers collecting garbage from different areas of the city. It is also displayed as part of the U.N. Climate Change Conference COP 20 taking place in Lima and seeks to generate dialogue on climate and environmental issues. REUTERS/Guadalupe Pardo

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Negotiators differ on whether finance and adaptation commitments should be part of national offers

By Megan Rowling

LIMA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Negotiators at U.N. climate talks in Lima are divided over whether governments should include finance and adaptation commitments in the national offers of action they are due to put forward early next year as the building blocks of a new global climate change deal.

Some developing countries, including the poorest, want adaptation efforts to be part of their contributions, arguing it will help determine their needs for funding and technical aid.

The cost of adapting to climate change in developing nations is likely to be at least two to three times higher than previous estimates of $70-100 billion a year by 2050, even with ambitious cuts in planet-warming emissions, according to a new report from the United Nations Environment Programme.

But the European Union and Japan said on Friday they want national offers to be focused only on mitigation - actions to reduce planet-warming emissions.

Elina Bardram, the European Commission's top climate negotiator, told journalists the EU sees the process for national contributions as designed specifically with mitigation in mind, and it shouldn't stretch to adaptation and climate finance.

With the new global deal not expected to enter into force until 2020, countries would struggle to plan their spending on climate finance or adaptation so far ahead of time, she added.

"We cannot possibly make forward commitments on something that is going to happen from the national budgets in seven years' time," she said.

But that "doesn't mean that we are not open to including some processes that would provide our partners with reassurances that these elements (of adaptation and finance) are absolutely core to the 2015 agreement", she said.


The EU is interested in the idea of including a global goal for adaptation in the main accord to be agreed in Paris in a year's time, Bardram added.

"We definitely see that gaining traction - particularly as adaptation is a challenge that concerns all countries. Europe is also suffering a lot from the adverse effects of climate change," she said.

Brazil, on the other hand, wants countries to be able to put adaptation and finance in their national contributions. But it does not support a wider adaptation goal, arguing that adaptation is local, and therefore very difficult to measure.

Tania Guillén of Nicaragua's Centro Humboldt, a sustainable development group, said that if adaptation is not included in the draft text expected to come out of the Lima talks, efforts to build a Paris deal could fail.

"Most of the (developing) countries are asking for adaptation to be a crucial part of the agreement - one of the big elements, not only mitigation - so if we don't include adaptation, there won't be political will," she said.

But even among developing countries, there are differing opinions on whether any commitments on adaptation made in the 2015 deal should be legally binding. Small island states, for example, believe they should be voluntary.

Some worry that insisting on legal backing for adaptation could work against binding commitments on mitigation.

Peru's environment minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, who is presiding over the climate talks in Lima, said "political parity" is needed between mitigation and adaptation in the negotiations.

He told Thomson Reuters Foundation on Friday the talks should deliver, as expected, a "Lima draft text" for governments to work on next year, as well as "upfront information" about what countries should include in their national offers.

"We just have one more week, but this is a process in which we should not lose optimism - I am very optimistic that we can do it," he said. (Reporting by Megan Rowling; editing by Laurie Goering)

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