By Guy Edwards and Timmons Roberts
This year Lima will host the next major round of UN Climate Change negotiations. The opportunity to establish climate change as a key domestic issue and achieve progress at the UN negotiations will not come around for another generation.
Peru is seen as a bridge builder between developing and developed countries, and is considered a leading actor on climate change as the first developing country to offer voluntary climate action in 2008.
At the UN climate talks, Peru negotiates alongside Chile, Colombia and others as part of the Alliance of Independent Latin American and Caribbean States (AILAC). This group attempts to build consensus between developed and developing countries on the need to take far reaching action on climate change and the importance of establishing a new legally binding agreement for all countries.
Peru has a year to make a vital contribution before COP20 to improve confidence and ratchet up global climate action. Otherwise, the goal of producing a draft text in Lima to be decided in Paris in 2015 will be simply unreachable. Peru could focus on three strategies on diplomacy, action and galvanizing domestic support.
A major step of Peru’s climate diplomacy is to engage with the major emitters – including the U.S. and China. Peru needs to facilitate a new dialogue promoting ambition between the U.S. and the BASIC group—Brazil, China, India and South Africa. Discussions with the EU on increasing ambition in Europe and Peru and its AILAC partners could increase confidence. As Venezuela will be hosting the pre-COP20 event, close collaboration between Peru and Venezuela will be essential in ensuring a strong regional voice calling for progress in Lima. Peru’s diplomacy with the world’s poorest and most vulnerable countries is also crucial.
Second, Peru’s focus on climate action by all countries—with developed country support on finance and technology transfer—can help establish a more holistic narrative tying together the myriad threads of the negotiations. This action by all countries is crucial in avoiding the polarizing debates between the North and South which undermine the talks. When Peru put forward its voluntary pledge in 2008, it established a new climate discourse. This discourse needs a boost and Lima can be that space. Peru and AILAC can put ambition front and centre by promoting their pledges. AILAC may also consider increasing their own pledges in the interest of generating confidence in the UN process and promoting low-carbon growth which is in their national interests.
Thirdly, strong domestic support is essential. The president and all ministries can bolster the important efforts by the ministry of environment and other government agencies to ensure Peru makes progress on its domestic climate goals but also establish a lasting COP20 legacy. The central role of the private sector and civil society is also paramount in that endeavour.
Combining these strategies could revitalise the UN climate talks and set Peru on a cleaner and more sustainable development pathway. As a country very vulnerable to climate impacts, Peru needs to promote urgency, action and equity. Lima will be a decisive battleground to ensure the 2015 deadline for a new climate deal is not missed.