LIMA TALKS
The UN-sponsored climate talks meant to pave way for the Paris accord next year came to an end late on Saturday night.UNFCC

A much-watered-down pact to cut down emissions has been agreed upon by over 190 nations at a pre-midnight session of the two-week UN sponsored talks at Lima in Peru.

By placing obligations on all nations, while insisting the rich nations must lead the way, the pact has satisfied both the developing and developed blocs.

On the issue of review of national pledges on emission cuts (INDCs), the text gives time till March 2015 for nations to provide a report on domestic policy, which would form the basis of the Paris accord to be signed next December and enacted by 2020.

A review had been opposed by many countries like India which cited reasons of sovereignty.

The fourth draft also elevated adaptation onto the same level as the curbing of greenhouse gas emissions and was accepted by all nations present at the venue.

Incorporating a phrase on the contentious "common but differentiated responsibilities" by noting countries have different responsibilities, the final draft also mentioned "loss and damage" mechanism agreed in talks at Warsaw last year.

"We've got what we wanted," said Indian Environment Minister Prakash Javedekar, noting the agreement preserved a notion enshrined in the Kyoto protocol that the rich have to lead the way in making cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

A committee will overlook the mechanism on Loss and Damage for two years with a balanced representation of members from the developing and developed countries, says a UNFCC release.

Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, the Minister of the Environment of Peru and the COP President, said: "Lima has given new urgency towards fast tracking adaptation and building resilience across the developing world — not least by strengthening the link to finance and the development of national adaptation plans."

Cuts, but not enough, say critics
The diluted version of the draft text which was finalised, while placing emission cuts on all nations, however may not be able to keep warming below the two-degree target, reports Reuters.

"We went from weak to weaker to weakest," Samantha Smith of the WWF conservation group said of successive drafts at the Lima talks. The final draft was the fourth.

Pledges during the COP event took the new Green Climate Fund past an initial £6bn ($10bn) target but the financial portion of the agreement is weak with not much pressure placed on industrialised countries to cough up the £63bn ($100bn) a year in climate finance.

Still, an impasse that the organisers had feared was averted over longstanding differences on who should do what to avert a climate disaster predicted if the global temperature is to breach a two degree C rise.

The bone of contention was the historical responsibility clause. According to this, the onus to cut emissions must be more on the developed world given its historical responsibility in piling up much of the carbon dioxide now in the atmosphere.

However, the developed nations have been demanding mandatory emission cuts on emerging economies like India and China which they insisted were at historical parity in emissions.

While the developing bloc sought more funds and technology transfer from the rich nations, the latter are disinclined to come up with any more funds.

China had dismissed the draft text saying it put too much burden on the poor to limit greenhouse-gas emissions, with deputy foreign minister Liu Zhenmin saying: "We need a Lima consensus, but given the current station we have deadlock."

China - rich or developing?
China with its rapidly growing economy and racing emissions, which was top at 27% in 2012 when the country spewed 9.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, was the target of developed nations which sought to cap the nation's emissions.

The path that China chooses in the coming 20 years to deliver development will largely determine global emissions.

Having merely promised to reduce carbon intensity of its growth and peak its emissions by 2030, it leaves the field free for the Asian giant to do big damage in the coming years.

However, countries like Australia too have done nothing to cut down emissions, which in fact stand to go up with a renewable energy target likely to be done away with like a carbon tax recently repealed.

The year 2013 recorded the maximum emissions in the last 30 years at 9.9 billion tonnes.

The Global Carbon Budget shows that the largest producers of carbon emissions in 2012 were China (27%), the United States (14%), the European Union (10%) and India (6%).

India and China had rejected the first draft text, calling it a mitigation-centric document.

A new draft that followed urged the developed countries "to provide and mobilise support to developing country 'Parties' for ambitious mitigation and adaptation actions, especially to 'Parties' that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change; and invites other 'Parties' willing to do so to complement such support".

Emissions from burning of fossil fuels must be slashed by 40-70% by 2050 from 2010 levels and to near zero or below by 2100 for a good chance of reaching 2 C, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in its fifth assessment report.