Governments from Around the World Meeting in Lima, Peru to Lay Foundation for Addressing Climate Change, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker Sends U.S. EPA Letter Opposing Climate Change Regulations

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Building on the groundswell of worldwide climate action, and in preparation for concluding its Framework Convention of Climate Change in Paris in 2015, the United Nations and its participating governments from around the world have begun meeting 1 December, 2014 in Lima, Peru, and scheduled to close on 12 December, 2014, to lay the foundation for an effective new, universal climate change agreement in Paris in 2015 while also raising immediate ambition to act on climate change in advance of the agreement coming into effect in 2020.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has this year warned against rising sea levels, storms and droughts as a result of unchecked greenhouse gas emissions, and highlighted the many opportunities of taking climate action.

Last week, the UN Environment Programme underscored the need for global emissions to peak within the decade and then to rapidly decline so that the world can reach climate neutrality – also termed zero net emissions – in the second half of the century.

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Climate Convention said:

“Never before have the risks of climate change been so obvious and the impacts so visible. Never before have we seen such a desire at all levels of society to take climate action. Never before has society had all the smart policy and technology resources to curb greenhouse gas emissions and build resilience. All of this means we can be confident we will have a productive meeting in Lima, which will lead to an effective outcome in Paris next year.”

Meanwhile, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker submitted comments this week in opposition of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan, which proposes increased regulations aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emission from Wisconsin’s power plants in Wisconsin. Walker’s letter claims that the proposed regulations would have a detrimental effect on Wisconsin’s manufacturing-based economy, as well as household ratepayers.

Walker says the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Public Service Commission of Wisconsin have spent months reviewing the rule and seeking input from those who would be affected since its proposal in June of this year.

Governor Walker has asked the EPA to reconsider the rule based on the impact the rule will have on the cost and reliability of electricity, not only to Wisconsin’s manufacturing sector and the 455,000 people it employs, but on every ratepayer in the state and the nation.

In Lima, governments meeting under the “Ad Hoc Work Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action” (ADP) need to define the scope and the type of contributions they will provide to the Paris agreement, along with clarity on how finance, technology and capacity building will be handled.

Countries will put forward what they plan to contribute to the 2015 agreement in the form of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) by the first quarter of 2015, well in advance of the Paris conference in December of next year.

The Lima conference needs to provide final clarity on what the INDCs need to contain, including for developing countries who are likely to have a range of options from, for example, sector-wide emission curbs to energy intensity goals.

Ms. Figueres welcomed the leadership of the EU, the US and China, who have publically announced their post-2020 climate targets and visions.

“It is hugely encouraging that well ahead of next year’s first quarter deadline, countries have already been outlining what they intend to contribute to the Paris agreement. This is also a clear sign that countries are determined to find common ground and maximize the potential of international cooperation,” she said.

“Countries are working hard to increase emission reductions before 2020, when the Paris agreement is set to enter into effect. Pathways on how to accomplish this will also be a key issue before nations in Lima,” she added.

Governments need to work towards streamlining elements of a draft agreement for Paris 2015 and explore common ground on unresolved issues in order to achieve a balanced, well-structured, coherent draft for the next round of work on the text in February next year.

In addition to progress made to date towards a Paris agreement, the political will of countries to provide climate finance is increasingly coming to the fore.

At a recent pledging conference held in Berlin, Germany, countries made pledges towards the initial capitalization of the Green Climate Fund totaling nearly $ 9.3 billion USD. Subsequent pledges took this figure to $ 9.6 billion, so that the $ 10 billion milestone is within reach.

“This shows that countries are determined to build trust and to provide the finance that developing countries need to move forward towards decarbonizing their economies and building resilience”, Ms. Figueres said.

In the course of the 2014, governments have been exploring how to raise immediate climate ambition in areas with the greatest potential to curb emissions, ranging from renewable energy to cities.

As part of the “Lima Action Agenda”, countries will decide how to maintain and accelerate cooperation on climate change by all actors, including those flowing from the Climate Summit in September, where many climate action pledges were made.

“We have seen an amazing groundswell of momentum building this year. One of the main deliverables of the Lima conference will be ways to build on this momentum and further mobilize action across all levels of society. Society-wide action in concert with government contributions to the Paris agreement are crucial to meet the agreed goal of limiting global temperature rise to less than two degrees Celsius, and to safeguard this and future generations,” Ms. Figueres said.

As climate change impacts worsen and impact the poor and most vulnerable, governments urgently need to scale up adaptation to climate change. The conference needs to agree on how National Adaptation Plans of developing countries will be funded and turned into reality on the ground. Countries will also work to agree a work program for the Executive Committee of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage, and elect the members of its Executive Committee.

Governments will work to scale up and coordinate the delivery of climate finance and of the various existing funds. A focus will be on identifying ways to accelerate finance for adaptation to climate change. Governments will also recognize the initial capitalization of the GCF, which is expected to reach USD $ 10 billion by the close of the Lima conference.

Countries meeting in Lima will further work to provide support to avoid deforestation. Several developing countries are expected to submit information which would make it possible for them to obtain funding for forest protection.

Governments meeting in Lima are expected to clarify the role of carbon markets in the 2015 global agreement and set a work program for next year to design and develop operations for implementing new market mechanisms.

As part of the efforts by countries to accelerate pre-2020 climate action, the secretariat is organizing a fair 5, 8 and 9 December in Lima to showcase how action is being scaled up and how many countries and non-state actors are taking action and setting an example.

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About Mike Neuman

Environmentalist; Father; Senior Citizen; Husband, School Crossing Guard; Green Bay Packer Fan; Wisconsin Badger Fan; Animal Lover; Humanitarian

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