LIMA YAWN
In the end, it was all a yawn say experts about the two week UN climate meet at Lima. The talks on slowing climate change were threatened with collapse on Saturday after China clashed with the United States but was rescued in last minute bids resulting in a watered-down pact that does nothing much to ease trends in global warming. REUTERS/Enrique Castro-Mendivil

The Lima Call For Climate Action is far too weak and does nothing to halt the world from its present trend towards a 3-4 deg C temperature rise which will threaten the lives of millions, increase poverty and hunger and thwart economic growth.

It has put off most difficult decisions to a later date, and done nothing to increase short term ambition, rendering a future global climate change deal in Paris next year highly unlikely, note experts from across the planet.

With legally binding targets looking improbable, and developed countries refusing to take action till 2020, the world is on track to meet some extreme weather related disasters.

Voluntary actions based on responsibilities and financial commitments have been left to the discretion of the players.

The agreed document calls for "ambitious agreement" in 2015 urging nations to set targets beyond current undertaking and reflecting "differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities" of each nation; it asks developed countries to provide financial support to "vulnerable" developing nations; and seeks submission of national pledges by the first quarter of 2015 by willing states.

Carbon space 'appropriated'

Chances are that the Lima action plan will lead to a much weaker climate agreement in Paris under which countries anyway will not do much till 2030, notes Down To Earth. By 2030, big polluters like the US and China would have appropriated most of the available carbon space, leaving nothing for most developing countries.

The US and China will have per capita emissions of 12 tonne – four times more than India.

Per capita emissions that take into account a country's population give an idea of how equitably the development space is utilised to raise living standards. While Australia is way down in the emissions list (but gathering steam) its per capita emissions are even higher than China's.

Every country can now decide what they want to do to reduce their emissions. But they will not be asked to explain how their efforts are fair and ambitious, thanks to a push by India to uphold its sovereignty.

If anything the 20th Conference of Parties served to increase the distrust between rich and poor nations, according to Delhi based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

"The Lima agreement will further erode the differentiation between developed and the developing countries. The burden of tackling climate change will decisively shift to developing countries making their efforts towards poverty reduction and sustainable development difficult and expensive," said Sunita Nairain, director general of CSE.

Finance weak

With developed countries disinclined to pitch in further for the climate fund (that is little over $10 billion and promised to be $100 bn by 2020), and the Lima plan merely calling on voluntary actions, adaptation costs of climate change will place a burden on poor nations and lead to the neglect of any mitigation possible.

"We will not get a deal in Paris without progress on finance and what Lima delivered is simply not enough," said Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam International Executive Director. "Not only is the need immense, a balanced package cannot be produced unless finance is a strong component."

Oxfam was critical of the unwillingness of most nations to reach a meaningful pact, pulling up US and China for throwing road blocks on issues like climate finance and how to divide up the responsibility.

India did its bit of damage to ensure 2015 pledges will not be properly assessed. The EU chose to rest on its laurels after declaring its commitments and adding to the green fund while Australia attended the talks, a press release notes.

In contrast was action by Latin American countries like Colombia and Peru, who in spite of having many development challenges and little historical responsibility, chose to contribute $6 million each to the Green Climate Fund.

Environmentalists were left unhappy by the vague language in the Lima plan, whether in describing the national pledges or in the nature of fund contributions.

"The parties have got just through something that is going to lead to all voluntary submissions of information, all voluntary ideas from countries about what kinds of emissions, reductions they want to make. And the big picture is, when they're done, it's going to be very hard to know if we're actually able to avoid dangerous climate change or not," said Samantha Smith, chief of climate policy for the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

But the EU and US officials said they were satisfied with the outcome.

"It was contentious along the way but it fundamentally accomplished what we wanted it to," Todd Stern, the US State Department's climate change envoy, said.