Although Peru is responsible for only 0.1 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, the country is at risk for becoming one of the most affected by climate change. Peru’s water supply is decreasing due to rising temperatures melting Andean glaciers while its population is concentrated in the most arid areas on the coast, which lack freshwater sources. In the context of the region, Peru expects to see the greatest temperature surge in South America.
So it’s fitting that, come December 2014, Peru will host a global discussion on climate change via the COP20, the twentieth session of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This time around, countries plan to end the event with a draft agreement containing parties’ Intended Nationally Determined Contributions—meaning clear numbers and information on how much each country is offering to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The COP20 document will likely be negotiated throughout 2015 and then signed in Paris as a new environment protocol, making it a legally binding document that converts countries’ commitments into international law.
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christina Figueres said the meeting should result in a “concise and credible” draft agreement. “Paris will not solve the climate change challenge at a stroke, but it needs to put in place the pathways and polices that can put climate action on an ever rising trajectory and emissions on an ever diminishing one,” Figueres explained at the end of a week of government negotiations in Bonn this month.
The last legally binding agreement was created in 1997, when the Kyoto Protocol was signed by 192 parties and put into force in 2005. The protocol set clear reduction targets for countries, with emphasis on industrialized economies. For the first phase of Kyoto, 37 developed countries committed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 5 percent compared to 1990 levels.
Since then, COPs became the standard way for countries to negotiate on fighting climate change. However, since Kyoto, parties have fallen short on agreeing on how much developed and developing countries should reduce emissions. Meetings in Copenhagen and Doha, for example, were considered disappointments. As of September 2014, only 18 countries have ratified the second phase of the Kyoto Protocol.
In addition to reducing emissions, another issue to come up during the COP20 is who pays the price for new technologies and who should help developing and small countries to adapt. One of the goals of the meeting in Lima is to jumpstart financing for the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to help these countries transition to a green economy.
Moreover, conferences before the COP20 are engaging the private sector in the negotiations and addressing business opportunities for a green economy. On September 2014, during the UN Climate Summit in New York, the sector committed over $200 billion for green investments. And on October 28 and 29, industry leaders discussed climate investment opportunities in Hong Kong at the second Climate Business Forum. Sending a message to business leaders participating in these meetings, Figueres said that governments cannot do it alone. “For countries to be ambitious as possible, they must hear that investors and industry support them,” she said, asking investors to diversify their portfolios and work with companies that disclosed their carbon footprint.