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Good for nothing – except procrastination

COP 20 discussions

Lots of talk, not much action at COP 20. UNClimatechange under a Creative Commons Licence

The climate summit in Peru dodged all the big issues. Now the clock is ticking, says Joe Ware

The countdown clock to the meeting that will set the course of the planet’s climate is now ticking. Twelve months and counting.

When heads of state meet in Paris in December next year to sign the long-awaited global climate deal, they will have a huge amount of work on their hands after dodging all the big issues at this month’s summit in Lima, Peru, which ended in the early hours of Sunday morning – 30 hours overdue.

This year has seen unprecedented momentum on tackling climate change. From the hundreds of thousands marching on the streets of New York and other cities to the surging divestment campaign which has seen universities, churches and other investors pull their investments in fossil fuel companies, including the historic US-China emissions cutting pact.

Despite this clear direction of travel, governments in Lima failed to respond and instead agreed to a weak deal which punts most of the big issues into next year. Although nationally determined emissions cuts have been agreed, nations haven’t introduced proper rules on assessing if these will be adequate to prevent dangerous global warming. Other crucial issues which will need to be part of any deal are the levels of climate finance and other support for vulnerable countries to help them adapt to a changing climate they did little to cause.

Because of their poor showing in Lima, governments will need to put a real shift in as we head toward Paris. What we need is an engaged and determined civil society holding their feet to the fire and reminding our leaders that for those on the front line of climate change, like the Typhoon victims of the Philippines, we can’t wait any longer.

The clock is ticking.

Joe Ware is a Church & Campaigns Journalist, Christian Aid.

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