Lang is the director of WWF Scotland and is part of the Stop Climate Chaos Scotland delegation to the UNFCCC. Follow all the latest from Lima on Twitter: @LangBanks and @sccscot
After two days of pleasantries and a focus on process instead of substance, the temperature was well and truly cranked up for delegates at the UN climate talks on Wednesday.
It may have been well trailed by some media in the days leading up to the talks, but during a morning press conference the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) officially confirmed that 2014 is currently on track to be the hottest year ever recorded.
According to preliminary data published by the agency, the period between January and October was the hottest ever globally.
“Our climate is changing and every year the risks of extreme weather events and impacts on humanity rise,” came the response from Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
This sobering news from the WMO was backed up moments later by representatives of the UK Met Office here in Lima. In their side event entitled ‘Climate risk – an update on the science’, the organisation’s Dr Peter Stott made clear that not only were global temperatures rising, but that they were observing “even stronger evidence that human activity is affecting climate change.”
Nevertheless, given the snail’s pace of the talks so far, the jury is still out on whether even this latest warning will be enough to spur delegates to action. Sadly, we’ve yet to observe any substantial discussion on possible texts of a draft agreement – one of the key outcomes these talks are supposed to deliver.
Even before the WMO press conference took place, delegates were welcomed to the convention centre to chants of: “Keep the oil in the soil. Keep the coal in the hole. Climate justice now!”
The small but vocal protest by a range of NGOs and young people called for strong and clear rules relating to climate finance, after it was revealed that Japan is claiming funds to a coal-power plant as being ‘green’.
While Japan has not broken any rules, the very fact that funds can be spent on projects that cause climate change – like coal-fired power plants – shows how broken the existing rules for the new Green Climate Fund are.
As part of the same protest, some 250 organisations signed a letter to the Green Climate Fund board calling for an ‘exclusion list’ or a list of projects that cannot receive funds as they do not align with the fund’s objectives.
And, proof of the value of NGOs being present at these types of events came pretty swiftly. Hardly had the protest finished, than the UNFCCC’s Standing Committee on Finance suddenly announced they would consider strengthening the rules – including an aim to establish a common definition of climate finance. After three days of talking, this was at least some progress on something of importance at last.
However, the reality is that much, much more will need to be progressed here by the end of this week if the politicians – who arrive next week – are to be in a position to secure an outcome that will protect those people most affected and the least responsible.