Negotiators at the U.N. climate conference in Lima, Peru, emerged after 36 straight hours of talks with a deal that has received mixed reviews.
On its face, the Lima Accord is a breakthrough: For the first time, the world’s nations, rich and poor, have signed on to an agreement requiring everyone to cut their own greenhouse-gas emissions. Yet some critics say the deal is so diluted that there are few penalties, beyond international scorn, for nations failing to come up with a plan.
According to The New York Times‘ Coral Davenport:
The strength of the accord — the fact that it includes pledges by every country to put forward a plan to reduce emissions at home — is also its greatest weakness. In order to get every country to agree to the deal, including the United States, the world’s largest historic carbon polluter, the Lima Accord does not include legally binding requirements that countries cut their emissions by any particular amount.
“If a country doesn’t submit a plan, there will be no punishment, no fine, no black U.N. helicopters showing up,” said Jennifer Morgan, an expert on climate negotiations with the World Resources Institute, a research organization.
Under the draft of the final agreement, each of the 190 nations has until March 31 to enact its own domestic plan to reduce carbon emissions. Countries that miss the deadline will have until June. Collectively, the plans, known as the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, will be the foundation for an agreement to be signed at a Paris U.N. conference next year.
Many questions about the deal persist: Megan Rowling of Reuters has a story about how rich countries will help poorer ones deal with the cost of reducing emissions without stunting their own economies.
And The Guardian notes that language in the deal mentioning specific targets was amended:
… there will be few obligations to provide details and no review to compare each nation’s pledges – as had been demanded by the European Union – after China and other emerging nations refused. The text says INDCs “may include” details such as base years and yearly targets, far weaker than a former draft that said nations “shall provide” such details.
But as AP’s Karl Ritter reported, many were still hopeful and optimistic about what had been accomplished:
“As a text it’s not perfect, but it includes the positions of the parties,” said Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, who was the conference chairman and had spent most of the day meeting separately with delegations.