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Press release on the twentieth session of the Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the tenth session of Meeting of the Parties of the Kyoto Protocol (UNFCCC COP 20/ CMP 10)

19 December 2014


The climate change science is clear – human induced global climate change is real, it is happening now and its impacts on economies, society and ecosystems are much more severe than previously understood. The recently released IPCC 5th Assessment Report clearly shows a linkage between climate change mitigation ambition and the extent of adaptation required. Essentially, less mitigation achieved, the more adaptation will be required. In this context, adaptation is a global challenge and responsibility.

It is therefore clear that the international community must collectively achieve both ambitious reductions of Green House Gas (GHG) emissions as well as the implementation of effective adaptation measures to enable and support a transition to a low carbon and climate resilient world.

To this end, the international climate change conference hosted by South Africa in Durban in 2011, agreed to address 3 issues in parallel; firstly to urgently act on climate change now; secondly to address the current inadequate level of ambition in reducing green house gas emission; and thirdly, to launch a four a year negotiation process to develop a fair, ambitious and legal agreement under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to replace the Kyoto Protocol. This has been the penultimate year for these negotiations and the annual UN Climate Change Conference was held in Lima, Peru from 1-12 December 2014.

The Lima conference successfully concluded early Sunday morning after intense overtime negotiations between countries. This is a critical step and a foundation for the final UN Climate Change Conference (so-called COP 21) that will be held in Paris next year in 2015, which is scheduled to conclude the post-2020 legal climate agreement that is to be applicable to all countries.

The post-2020 legal implementation system

The major outcome of the Lima conference was the adoption of the “Lima call for climate action” which captured progress made in the negotiations of the fair, inclusive and ambitious legal post 2020 climate change system to be agreed in 2015 in Paris and implemented beyond 2020. This decision focussed on 2 key aspects, firstly, an agreed set of information required to underpin and inform each countries intended nationally determined contribution to the global climate change effort for the period beyond 2020; and secondly, the elements of the draft negotiation text that needs to be finalised in Paris next year.

The decision outlines that mitigation, adaptation, technology development and transfer, and capacity building shall be addressed in a balanced manner under the new agreement. The decision also entrenched the principles of the Convention in particular the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities as the basis for the 2015 Paris agreement. Furthermore, it placed adaptation along with mitigation at the centre of the 2015 agreement as issues to be given equal priority.

The significant proposal that South Africa made of the need to assess the contributions that will be made before Paris with a view of determining the aggregate effect of such contribution on the climate system was also agreed to.


The second critical outcome at Lima relates to progress in the negotiations of scaling up action in the post-2012 and pre-2020 period.

The conference outlined steps that will be undertaken through the technical expert meetings that are tasked with identifying scalable actions in the post-2012 and pre-2020 period. Most importantly these actions must include adaptation, health and sustainable development co-benefits. The decisions also provided space for a regular assessment of the technical expert meetings (TEM) with a view of taking stock of the impact that this have on closing the ambition gap in the pre-2020 period.

The conference outcomes on ambition also provided space for further consultations on revisiting the targets under the Kyoto Protocol in addition to the 2013-2015 review of the adequacy of the 2 degree global goal and the implementation of the Convention objectives towards achieving the 2 degree global goal.

Loss and Damage

The third key priority for South Africa and the Africa group was the agreement on the work plan for the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage due to climate change effects. Once again South Africa co-facilitated these discussions that led to the successful agreement on the 2 year work plan and the composition of the governing body for the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage due to climate change effects.


The fourth key outcome for the conference was the attainment of over USD 10 billion pledges for the Green Climate Fund (GCF). The GCF is operating entity of the financial mechanism of Convention specifically aimed at mobilising finance from the developed countries to enable and support the developing countries to implement their adaptation and mitigation actions. Developed countries agreed to jointly mobilise a USD 100 billion per year by 2020 from both public and private sources to support developing countries for their climate action.

Another key decision on finance was progress with regard to the question of the sources and scale of long – term climate change finance. There was an agreement to have focused biannual high-level ministerial dialogues for scaling up climate finance from 2014 to 2020. The high-level ministerial dialogues will be complemented by annual in-session workshops. The first in-session workshop in 2015 will focus specifically on adaptation finance, needs for support to developing countries and cooperation on enhanced enabling environments and support for readiness activities. This is a major outcome as it marks a departure from the previous discussions on this agenda item that simply focused on general discussions as to who is responsible for mobilising financial resources. The discussion will be more focused and presents an opportunity for developing countries to quantify their adaptation needs and respective infrastructure that is required under the 2 degree world.

The twenty first session of the Conference Of Parties to the UNFCCC will take place in December 2015, in Paris, France. Prior to the Paris talks the negotiations will have to finalise the elements of the draft legal agreement in February 2015, in Geneva, Switzerland.  A draft negotiation text must be submitted by May 2015 in order to comply with the legal requirement that all legal instruments under the Convention must be formally submitted to Parties at least six months before its’ consideration at the Paris Cop 21.

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Roopa Singh
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