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Outcomes of the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Lima

Image courtesy UNFCCC, Flickr. Trimmed to fit this space.

20th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 20)

December 1-12, 2014

Download a PDF of this summary.

In a preview of a tough year ahead, governments meeting at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru, went 30 hours over deadline to hammer out a modest set of procedural steps, and made no real progress on the larger issues looming as they work toward a new global climate agreement next year in Paris.

In adopting the Lima Call for Climate Action, parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) agreed on loose arrangements for bringing forward their “intended nationally determined contributions” to the Paris agreement. They also forwarded the “elements for a draft negotiating text” that is to be produced by May. But the “elements” paper – a compendium of all the issues and options put forward by parties – explicitly disclaims any “convergence” and leaves the door open to further proposals next year.

The meeting – known formally as the 20th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC, or COP 20 – completed the third of a four-year round of negotiations to conclude in Paris. It began with a sense of momentum, following nearly $10 billion in pledges to the new Green Climate Fund and the joint announcement by the United States and China of their post-2020 emission targets. However, the meeting quickly bogged down, and parties put aside the “elements” document to haggle over the more immediate issues of how their intended contributions to the Paris agreement are to be submitted to and weighed by the UNFCCC.

Though these matters were largely procedural, the fight over them brought to the fore the perennial and increasingly contentious issue of differentiation among developed and developing countries. Many developing countries insisted on maintaining the stark differentiation of the past, but developed countries refused. In the end, the Lima decision largely sidestepped the issue, which is certain to be a central challenge in reaching an agreement in Paris.

In other areas, parties conducted a “multilateral assessment” of emission-cutting efforts by developed countries; debated how to continue scaling up finance to developing countries; failed again to make progress on new market-based approaches; and continued to struggle over aid to developing countries for “loss and damage” resulting from climate change.

Following is a summary of key outcomes:

Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform

In 2011, COP 17 established the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP), with the mandate of negotiating by COP 21 a post-2020 agreement in the form of “a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under Convention applicable to all Parties.”

A decision last year, at COP 19 in Warsaw, invited parties to submit their “intended nationally determined contributions” (INDCs) to the new agreement “well in advance” of the Paris conference (“by the first quarter of 2015 by those Parties ready to do so”) in a manner that “facilitates the clarity, transparency, and understanding” of the intended contributions. Parties deferred to Lima the question of what information they will provide when putting forward their contributions.

The Warsaw decision appeared to suggest the very broad contours of the Paris agreement – a hybrid structure combining bottom-up and top-down elements. While parties’ individual contributions would be nationally determined, they would be accompanied by a “rules-based regime” to, for instance, promote transparency and accountability.

In Lima, the ADP had two documents before it: a paper identifying potential “elements for a draft negotiating text” of the Paris agreement, and a decision laying out the process for presenting and considering parties’ INDCs over the coming year.

The “elements” paper essentially contains the raw materials for the Paris agreement, covering such issues as mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology transfer, transparency, the legal nature of parties’ commitments, the use of market mechanisms, and procedures to periodically update commitments. It grew to 39 pages as parties made sure all of their proposals were reflected.

The major issue on the “elements” paper was its status heading into next year. Many parties did not want it to be the exclusive basis for developing the draft negotiating text (which, under the rules of the Convention, would need to be circulated by May in order for the Paris agreement to be adopted as a protocol). As a result, the paper includes a footnote stating that the elements “reflect work in progress,” and that they “neither indicate convergence…[nor] preclude new proposals from emerging” next year.

Far more contentious was the decision on steps leading to Paris. Major issues, many of which remained in play until the final 1 a.m. deal, included:

Scope of INDCs – Developed countries wanted “nationally determined commitments” to focus only on mitigation, while many developing countries pushed to include adaptation and finance too. The compromise does not explicitly define the scope of INDCs. In linking INDCs to the Convention’s ultimate objective (stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations to avoid dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system), the decision sets an expectation of mitigation contributions from all. It also invites parties to “consider including an adaptation component” as well.

Upfront information – To help clarify and assess parties’ contributions, the decision identifies certain information that parties might provide, as appropriate, including “quantifiable information” on an INDC’s timeframe, scope and coverage, and the assumptions and methodologies used in estimating and accounting for emissions. It also asks parties to say how their contributions are “fair and ambitious.”  However, language saying that “all Parties shall” provide upfront information was replaced by “may” in the final text, making it voluntary.

Ex ante consideration – Many parties pushed for different types of processes to scrutinize one another’s intended contributions pre-Paris; major developing countries tried to block them. The final decision dropped a mid-year “dialogue” on the INDCs, but added direction to the UNFCCC secretariat to prepare a synthesis report by November on the “aggregate effect” of the INDCs – in other words, how they compare to the reductions needed to limit warming to 2°C.

Differentiation – Major developing countries pushed for explicit differentiation between Annex I (developed) and non-Annex I (developing) countries throughout the decision, which developed countries flatly rejected. The compromise echoes language from the recent US-China joint announcement, simply restating the UNFCCC principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities,” with a slight addition: “in light of different national circumstances.”

Finance – Differentiation was also an issue in the decision’s call for increased finance for developing countries. Rather than assuming the entire onus themselves, developed countries pushed for language saying that other parties “in a position to do so” should also contribute. The final text simply “recognizes complementary support” from other parties.

Loss and damage – COP 19 launched a separate process to consider steps to help especially vulnerable developing countries cope with “loss and damage” – climate impacts that cannot be avoided even with strong mitigation and adaptation efforts. In Lima, those countries tried but failed to add loss and damage to the list of issues the Paris agreement must address. The final decision merely notes the separate process already underway. On the decision’s adoption, Tuvalu, speaking for the least developed countries group, noted for the record its interpretation that this reference indicates an intention by parties to address the issue in the Paris agreement. (See more on loss and damage below.)   

Multilateral Assessment

COP 20 featured the first-ever “multilateral assessment” of mitigation efforts by developed countries, part of a new set of transparency procedures established under the 2010 Cancún Agreements. Seventeen developed country parties, including the United States, the European Union, several EU member states, and New Zealand, provided brief presentations to the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI) on progress toward achieving their 2020 emission pledges, and fielded questions from other parties.

The SBI session was one in a sequence of steps in the new international assessment and review (IAR) process for developed countries. The parties being assessed had earlier submitted biennial reports on their implementation efforts, which had undergone expert review, and participated in online Q&A with other parties. The process results in a party “record” including any expert review reports, a compilation of the online and in-session Q&A, a summary report from the SBI, and any additional comments from the party concerned.

Other developed countries will be assessed over the coming year. Under a parallel process called international consultations and analysis (ICA), developing countries are now submitting their biennial reports, which will undergo technical analysis next year, followed by a “facilitative sharing of views” among parties in 2016.


Apart from figuring in the ADP debate, climate finance issues were addressed on several other fronts at COP 20.

Leading up to Lima, pledges toward the initial capitalization of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) established under the Cancún Agreements had approached the informal goal of $10 billion. Additional pledges during the conference surpassed that goal, including pledges by Australia, which had earlier said it would not contribute, and by three developing countries: Colombia, Mexico and Peru.

Meanwhile, China, saying that the GCF should be funded by developed countries, announced the launch of a separate South-South fund. China pledged to double the $44 million in climate finance it has provided since 2011, and invited other developing countries to contribute. It provided few details on how the new fund will be managed.

The COP received the first biennial assessment of its Standing Committee on Finance, which estimated that flows from developed to developing countries totaled between $40 billion and $175 billion a year between 2010 and 2012, including $35 billion to $50 billion a year in public finance. (Developed countries committed in Cancún to mobilize $100 billion a year in public and private finance by 2020.)  The wide range in the committee’s estimate of total flows reflects both the lack of an agreed definition of climate finance and the difficulty in tracking, in particular, private flows.

In a debate over scaling up climate finance, developed countries resisted calls by developing countries for interim targets toward the $100 billion a year to be mobilized by 2020. The COP instead urged developed countries to “enhance the available quantitative and qualitative elements of a pathway, placing greater emphasis on transparency and predictability of financial flows.”

Framework for Various Approaches/New Market Mechanism

Since COP 18 in Doha, efforts toward establishing a new market mechanism under the UNFCCC have been subsumed under a broader work program on a Framework for Various Approaches, which also takes in non-market approaches.

For the second year in a row, the discussions remained bogged down in the Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and never reached the COP. China and Brazil argued that the issues should instead be taken up under the ADP, but other parties objected. The issues will be before SBSTA again next year.

Loss and Damage

At COP 19, parties established the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage to consider steps to address loss and damage suffered by especially vulnerable countries, and agreed to revisit the mechanism and its structure at COP 22, a year after the Paris conference.

In Lima, the COP decided on the composition of the mechanism’s executive committee and adopted an initial two-year work plan outlining a detailed set of activities to better understand unavoidable climate impacts and to identify and promote risk management strategies and other responses.

Future Meetings

The ADP will hold its next session February 8-13, 2015, and will meet again during the annual meetings of the UNFCCC Subsidiary Bodies set for June 3-14, 2015, in Bonn.

COP 21 will be held from November 30 to December 11, 2015, in Paris. The COP is considering an offer by Morocco to host COP 22 on November 7-18, 2016, with a final decision due at COP 21.


Why Lima was so tough

It was clear heading into the U.N. climate change conference in Lima that countries would punt all the toughest issues until next year in Paris, when a grand new global deal is due. All they really needed in Lima were a few procedural decisions setting the stage.

So why did it take more than 30 hours beyond the conference deadline to deliver something so modest?

The answer is that even a seemingly trivial procedural issue can be freighted with substantive implications, so countries fret over every nuance, lest they let something slip that will come back to haunt them later. In Lima, like so many times before, their biggest worry was how responsibility will be distributed across developed and developing countries.

At the start of the global climate effort, developed countries were comfortable with a stark division assigning most of the responsibility to them. But 20 years later, China is now the world’s largest carbon emitter, and developed countries no longer accept the so-called firewall between the two groupings.

The 2011 Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, which launched the current round of negotiations, said the Paris agreement would be “applicable to all.”  But just what that means was left to be sorted out later, and will likely be the central challenge in Paris.

The handwriting is on the famous firewall – it’s coming down. China’s willingness to stand side by side with the United States last month to jointly announce their post-2020 emissions goals is a tacit acknowledgement of that. The question is what if anything takes its place.

Lima Climate Conference - COP 20

Image courtesy UNFCCC, Flickr. Trimmed to fit this space.

In a preview of a tough year ahead, governments meeting at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru, went 30 hours over deadline to hammer out a modest set of procedural steps, and made no real progress on the larger issues looming as they work toward a new global climate agreement next year in Paris.

The Lima Call for Climate Action

C2ES Resources

Events in Lima

  • December 5
    "Addressing Corporate Climate Risk & Resilience" - Preliminary findings of a new analysis of how major companies are assessing and addressing climate risks and increasing their climate resilience. Watch video.
  • December 8
    C2ES Media Briefing in Lima - Elliot Diringer presents an update on the Report of the Co-Chairs of "Toward 2015: an International Climate Dialogue." Watch video.
  • Summary of all C2ES events in Lima

Other Resources

C2ES Events in Lima

Promoted in Energy Efficiency section: 
New Insights on Weathering the Storm: Building Business Resilience to Climate ChangeDecember 8: An Update and Perspectives on U.S. Climate Change Policy

New Insights on Weathering the Storm: Building Business Resilience to Climate Change

Date: Friday, December 5, 2014 18:00-19:00
Location: US Center
See video of the event.

C2ES will present preliminary findings of a new analysis of how major companies are assessing and addressing climate risks and increasing their climate resilience. This research builds on C2ES’s 2013 report, Weathering the Storm: Building Business Resilience to Climate Change, which found that 90 percent of S&P Global 100 companies see extreme weather and other climate risks as current or future business risks, while 62 percent say they are experiencing climate change impacts now, or expect to in the coming decade. The new analysis looks more closely at emerging on-the-ground practices among companies to manage their climate risks. A presentation of C2ES’s findings will be followed by a panel discussion.


  • Giles Dickson, Vice President, Environmental Policies & Global Advocacy, Alstom
  • David Hone, Group Climate Change Advisor, Shell
  • Jeanette Pablo, Federal Affairs & Climate Advisor, PNM Resources
  • Timothy Juliani, Director of Corporate Engagement, C2ES

An Update and Perspectives on U.S. Climate Change Policy

Date: Monday, December 8, 2014 15:30
Location: EU Pavilion

This event will provide an update from multiple perspectives on the state of climate policy in the United States, including implementation of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, action at the state level, and business and NGO perspectives.


  • Mike Boots, Acting Chair, White House Council on Environmental Quality
  • Matt Rodriguez, Secretary of Environmental Protection, California
  • Marnie Funk, Director, CO2 Advocacy, Shell
  • Brian Wolff, Executive Vice President for Public Policy, Edison Electric Institute (EEI)
  • Elliot Diringer, Executive Vice President, C2ES


Joint Reception with EEI and IETA

Date: Monday, December 8, 2014 19:00
Location: US Center

C2ES Media Briefing in Lima

Date: Tuesday, Dec. 9, 13:00
Location: Press Conference Room 2, on Level 1 above the media center at the conference venue, Cuartel General del Ejercito del Perú.
Webcast: Details will be posted at




Outlook for Lima: Setting the stage for Paris

Negotiators heading to Lima for the annual U.N. climate summit face a certain paradox. There are encouraging signs of growing momentum toward a new global climate deal late next year in Paris. Yet over the next two weeks in Lima, the negotiators may make only modest progress at best.

There are good reasons to be hopeful.

First, recent events and announcements have strengthened confidence in prospects for Paris. These include the U.N. leaders summit in New York, nearly $10 billion in pledges to the new Green Climate Fund, Europe’s decision on a 2030 emissions goal, and the joint announcement by the U.S. and China of their post-2020 targets.

Second, the negotiations throughout this year have been notably civil and substantive. Wide gulfs remain, but rather than succumbing to procedural fights, parties have been putting forward and constructively debating concrete ideas for the Paris agreement.

Third, behind the scenes, there is a fair degree of convergence among key countries on the broad outlines of a Paris deal. This is reflected in a recent report from the co-chairs of Toward 2015, an informal dialogue among officials from 20+ key countries organized by C2ES.

US-China climate goals go well beyond business as usual

The climate targets announced this month by the United States and China will require a significant effort beyond a business-as-usual scenario for both countries. More details will likely follow in the weeks and months ahead, but here is what we know so far for each country.


China announced a goal for its greenhouse gas emissions to peak by 2030 or sooner. This marks the first time that China has pledged a peak or absolute target for greenhouse gas emissions, rather than an intensity-based target. In business-as-usual scenarios, China’s emissions wouldn’t peak until 2040 or later.

China also announced it would boost its share of zero-carbon energy, which includes nuclear, hydropower and renewables, to 20 percent – up from about 13 percent today. Meeting that goal will require a substantial build-out of nuclear power stations, hydroelectric stations, wind turbines, and solar panels, as well as transmission and other infrastructure. In a separate announcement, China said it plans to cap its coal consumption by the year 2020.

China can’t, as critics claim, sit idly by for 15 years and reach these targets. It will need to significantly restructure its energy system. China will have to add more than 1 GW of zero-carbon power a week for the next 15 years – an amount roughly equal to the entire installed electricity capacity of the United States.

Bob Perciasepe's statement on US-China climate announcement

Statement from Bob Perciasepe
President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions

On the U.S.-China Joint Announcement on Climate Change

November 11, 2014

The joint announcement by President Obama and President Xi is an extremely hopeful sign. Even if the targets aren’t as ambitious as many might hope, the world’s two largest carbon emitters are stepping up together with serious commitments. This will help get other countries on board and greatly improves the odds for a solid global deal next year in Paris.

These targets will require major undertakings by both countries. Clearly the leaders of the world’s two largest economies have decided the risks posed by climate change justify stronger action to cut carbon emissions. And they’re confident they can keep growing their economies at the same time.

In the case of the United States, the new target is pushing the limits of what can be done under existing law. We can get there if Congress doesn’t stand in the way, and if states roll up their sleeves and work with businesses and other stakeholders to craft smart, practical plans to cut emissions from power plants. But to go much further, we’ll ultimately need Congress to act. 

For too long it’s been too easy for both the U.S. and China to hide behind one another.  People on both sides pointed to weak action abroad to delay action at home. This announcement hopefully puts those excuses behind us. We’ll only avert the worst risks of climate change by acting together.


Contact: Laura Rehrmann, or 703-516-0621

About C2ES: The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization promoting strong policy and action to address the twin challenges of energy and climate change. Launched in 2011, C2ES is the successor to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. Learn more at

Bob Perciasepe's Statement on IPCC Synthesis Report

Statement of Bob Perciasepe
President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions

November 2, 2014

On the release of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Synthesis Report for the Fifth Assessment:

The IPCC synthesis report delivers a critical message at a critical moment. The core findings aren’t new, but the report makes them clearer than ever, and they are worth underscoring. 

It’s important to be reminded of the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change as the United States works toward its most ambitious steps ever to cut carbon emissions and nations work toward the Paris agreement. 

The core message from the IPCC is the growing urgency of action. We have real opportunities next year to make progress both in the U.S. and globally. The scientists have done their job. Now it’s up to governments to do theirs.


Contact: Laura Rehrmann,

About C2ES: The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization promoting strong policy and action to address the twin challenges of energy and climate change. Launched in 2011, C2ES is the successor to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. Learn more at

Alternative Models for the 2015 Climate Change Agreement

By Daniel Bodansky and Elliot Diringer
Fridtjof Nansen Institute
Climate Policy Perspectives 13
October 2014

A primary goal of the Durban Platform negotiations should be to develop an agreement that will maximize reductions in greenhouse gas emissions over time. Achieving this objective will be a function of not only the ambition of the 2015 agreement, but also the levels of participation and compliance by states. A higher level of ambition will not necessarily make the agreement more effective, if fewer states participate or comply.

In many if not most countries, the climate change issue is driven more by national than by international politics, so the agreement needs to allow states to determine the content of their own commitments. This approach represents a concession to political and diplomatic realities, as well as to the limits of international agreements in influencing countries' behavior in an area so vital to their interests.

At the same time, the 2015 agreement needs to prod states to do as much as possible, through multilateral rules on transparency and accountability that help foster a virtuous cycle, in which states make progressively more ambitious contributions. Thus far, the top-down elements of the hybrid approach remain largely an abstraction. What remains to be seen is whether parties will be able to agree on rules that sufficiently discipline national flexibility and promote stronger ambition.

Read more at Fridtjof Nansen Institute

Published by Fridtjof Nansen Institute
Daniel Bodansky
Elliot Diringer

Structure of a 2015 Climate Change Agreement

Structure of a 2015 Climate Change Agreement

October 2014

By Daniel Bodansky, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Arizona State University

Download the full report (PDF)

Governments are aiming to produce a new global climate change agreement in 2015 in Paris. Past outcomes
of the UN climate negotiations—like many other multilateral environmental regimes—consist of
packages containing different types of instruments. It is likely that the outcome of the ongoing Durban
Platform negotiations will, likewise, be comprised of multiple instruments. This brief provides an overview
of: 1) the structure of earlier climate packages; 2) key considerations bearing on the choice of instruments
in a Paris outcome; and 3) the range of instruments available to parties.


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