By Javier Garcia
PORLAMAR, Venezuela – Peruvian Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal issued a call on Friday for urgent action against climate change and said he was confident next month’s UN conference in Lima will produce a draft accord to tackle the problem.
“The world will not accept another failure,” he told Efe in an interview, looking ahead to the 20th session of the UN Conference of the Parties on Climate Change, known as COP20, set for Dec. 1-12 in Peru’s capital.
Pulgar-Vidal was in Venezuela’s Isla Margarita for a gathering of officials and activists from 45 countries that organizers called the social pre-COP: a first-ever forum to discuss the socio-economic aspects of global warming ahead of the official climate talks.
Following the failure of the 2009 climate summit in Copenhagen, the international community has focused on reaching a new accord to replace the Kyoto Protocol, the minister said.
One of the stated goals of the Lima summit is reaching consensus on a draft agreement that can be signed at next year’s COP21 in Paris.
“Fortunately, we’re not at a moment similar to that prior to Copenhagen, but rather in a very different one in which the consequences of climate change are very present and society demands that we act,” he said.
Science “is confirming the sense of urgency that, if we don’t act now, the tendency in various scenarios would carry us to a significant increase in temperature,” the Peruvian said.
The world must slash CO2 emissions at least 41 percent by 2050 on the way to reaching zero net emissions in 2100, he said.
“The expectations set out for Lima are precisely those we should move toward to mobilize success in Paris with the signing of an accord,” Pulgar-Vidal said.
COP20 needs to produce consensus on at least some elements for a draft agreement, otherwise, he said, “frustration can set in and it is very difficult to work in an atmosphere of frustration.”
In a departure from previous COP meetings, the preliminaries ahead of the conference in Peru have been more bottom-up than top-down, the minister said, citing the pre-COP as an example.
“It has been highly positive,” Pulgar-Vidal said of the encounter in Margarita. “It seems to me it’s a good way of channeling social demands, which tend to be expressed by different voices and groups, within a position that is quite concerted.”
“The climate discussion has begun to feed off the contribution from other, non-state actors,” he said.
“The future of the COPs starting with Lima, will be that of the COPs that are capable of listening to voices different from those of just the governments,” the minister said.
He acknowledged, however, that the negotiations must take place between nations, because it is only nations that can enter into binding agreements.
Regarding the role of Latin America in the COP20 talks, Pulgar-Vidal noted that Peru, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Panama have come together to form the Independent Alliance of Latin America and the Caribbean, which coordinates with other governments in the region.
“I think the COP 20 in Lima will do much to express this capacity of Latin America to facilitate complex processes, and likewise that will be a part of the success of the meeting,” Peru’s environment minister said.
For a Latin American country to bring together “one of the most complex discussions at the international level in the world nowadays, demonstrates the region’s capacity to deliver concrete responses to complex issues,” he said.
The Lima talks will provide “a solid basis” for an agreement next year in Paris, Pulgar-Vidal predicted.