Lima will determine Paris climate outcome

The fact that the EU leaders have endorsed the Commission’s proposal to establish a binding target of at least 27% of renewables at a European level gives a clear signal to investors

By the time COP 20 – the international climate talks – are concluded by the end of next week in Lima, one should have a fair idea of the prospects ahead for a successful and legally binding Paris Climate summit in December 2015.

Much speculation is already going on as to what would success look like at COP 20 in Lima.

The summary conclusions are that apart from the landmark US-China climate deal coupled with nearly $10bn in pledges to the Green Climate Fund, the five things that need to happen at the Lima negotiations for the talks to be considered a success are the following: 

•    Set guidelines for what countries will include in their climate action plans for after 2020

•    The need to establish a process to assess country plans for action

•    The narrowing down of the negotiating text to ensure the agreement has staying power

•    Agreement on a clear roadmap to mobilise climate action funds

•    Advance near-term climate action

Lima was never intended to be the end of the road.

On the other hand, at this delicate and particular juncture, it is and must turn out to be a major milestone on the path to Paris and the 2015 climate agreement that everyone is hoping for. 

It will not in itself guarantee an effective, robust and ambitious agreement in Paris but on the other hand a Lima failure will make the prospects of a Paris success dimmer than ever.

There is still some uncertainty as to how to assess the EU role.

I am confident that the EU can and must become a global leader in climate action even though any accord without the blessing of the big powers – mainly the USA and China – can be perceived as being half baked to say the least.

I am in full agreement with the new EU Energy and Climate Commissioner that the conclusions of the European Council on the climate and energy framework of 2030, created a lot of positive momentum that would assist the EU to drive forward an ambitious climate policy and lead the international negotiations towards a binding agreement at the Paris climate conference in 2015.

But as he argued, first and foremost we need to work towards a swift and proper implementation of the 2030 framework. 

And we need to do it in a smart way, to reap the full benefits of the transition to a low carbon economy, that is so essential for the creation of jobs and sustainable growth.

The fact that the EU leaders have endorsed the Commission’s proposal to establish a binding target of at least 27% of renewables at a European level gives a clear signal to investors that we intend to continue promoting strong growth in the renewables sector while enabling us to move to a more European approach for their support.

The EU still has to conduct at commission level work linked to the targets agreed by EU leaders, and especially in the fields of renewables, energy efficiency, carbon capture and storage, non-ETS targets and the reduction of emissions from road transport.

At day’s end as various MEPs had commented when the Commissioner had addressed the EP recently, many wondered how the European Commission could convince the Council to generate a climate plan that would make a difference for people.

I am personally looking forward to finding out more in the coming days even at EU Council level as to where things really stand on two important pieces of legislation that will somehow impact directly and indirectly on climate issues.

These being the air quality package and the waste package together with the whole circular economy concept and approach.

Many still tend to consider going green as a jump into the unknown.

In real and effective terms it is nothing but a smart step towards a sustainable and also a profitable future for Europe’s business. 

It is imperative that all EU member states should speak with one voice in Lima, arguing that an international deal on global warming must have legally binding targets.

Unless one can do so one can wave goodbye to the prospect of Lima delivering the first draft of an accord to cut carbon emissions and stave off dangerous climate change.

While some may continue to argue that one might not need emissions cuts that are mandatory, legally binding mitigation targets remain the only viable alternative even though some member states might still covertly try to opt for less rules-based and certitude driven alternative approaches.

Lima must be a time for convergence. There is no more time to be wasted on options within options.

French President Hollande recently claimed that the Paris summit had a duty to  succeed.

Nevertheless one cannot exclude another very realistic option that is likely to be pushed forward in Lima by the big powers – primarily what is being called the buffet option.

It is a proposal that would contain some legally binding elements while allowing countries to determine the scale and pace of their emissions reductions.

This hybrid approach to legal enforcement will no doubt offer the best chance of striking a deal agreeable to all, but on the other hand would it suffice to show that there is enough beef in the would-be Paris accord.

Expect the whole saga to continue to unfold bit by bit as if one were watching a telenovella or else a box set of your favourite series, be it House of Cards, 24, or else Scandal!