Reaction to UN Lima climare conference

In December, delegates from the 196 nations participating in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change met in Lima for the 20th Conference of the Parties.  The purpose in Lima was to secure commitments from all parties for actions to minimize greenhouse gas emissions. These commitments would then set up a framework for COP21, a December 2015 meeting in Paris.

COP21’s goal is to reach a climate agreement with “legal force” binding on all parties, with the objective of limiting global warming to 2 degrees centigrade above 1880 levels.

Another objective at Lima was to “urge developed country parties” to increase their support of the UN-administered Green Climate Fund. The GCF calls for developed nations to contribute $100 billion annually to provide financial resources to developing nations like China and India to help them meet the challenges posed by a warming earth. The concept for the fund was developed at the 2010 COP16 in Cancun. Contributions to date have been minimal.

Like the 19 prior conferences, COP20 produced no binding commitments. One problem is the conflict between developing nations and developed nations over responsibility for existing greenhouse gases. In the view of China and India, those gases were put there by the West as they developed their economies.

Now they view climate controls as an effort to keep developing nations from burning fossil fuels to raise economic standards. They believe that we in the West owe a “climate debt” to the so-called “Third World” for polluting the atmosphere. This debt is to be repaid in part by contributions to the GCF.

China and India point to their low per-capita fossil fuel consumption compared to the U.S. Both China and India have aggressive nuclear power programs, but they still need fossil fuel energy to achieve the prosperity levels in Europe and the U.S.

They have no intention of halting their economic growth and the energy production needed to achieve it, so we can expect the coming Paris conference will have the same ineffective result as previous big UN climate gatherings in Kyoto, Cancun, Copenhagen and Rio.

The Lima conference finally settled on a kind of collection plate principle where each nation contributes what it chooses. The mechanism is called the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution, or INDCs.

These will be submitted to the next UN climate summit, scheduled for Paris this December. More INDCs is the likely result, along with substantial carbon dioxide emissions as thousands of delegates arrive in jets and other fossil-fuel-burning vehicles.