LIMA, Peru — The latest round of United Nations climate talks ended in the early hours of Sunday morning — nearly 33 hours later than scheduled — with a deal that barely kept hopes for a meaningful global agreement next year.
The conference, which started on Dec. 1., had two main goals: to agree to a series of measures aimed at reducing the greenhouse gases scientists say cause climate change in the near term, and to pave the way for an agreement that will include action from all countries by the end of the next edition of the talks, a year from now in Paris.
The second part fell short despite an impassioned plea from Todd Stern, the U.S. climate change special envoy, who called on participants to approve what he said was a less than perfect text in order to foster progress in 2015.
“We don’t have time for more lengthy negotiations,” Stern said. “I believe we will live to regret it if we allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good.”
The Lima agreement was adopted hours after a previous draft was rejected by developing countries who accused rich nations of shirking their responsibilities to fight global warming and pay for its impacts.
The talks were scheduled to conclude at 6 p.m. local time Friday, but continued until nearly 2 a.m. local time on Sunday, as Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Peru’s environment minister and the conference chairman, kept pushing delegates to agree on key points.
Pulgar-Vidal presented a new, fourth draft just before midnight and said he hoped it would satisfy all parties, giving a sharply reduced body of remaining delegates an hour to review it.
Progress in Lima was mostly technical, setting out guidelines for financial contributions, actions to reduce emissions and a timetable for the period leading up to the Paris talks. Approving language for the 2015 treaty was pushed back to next year.
Stern’s comments built upon an increasingly proactive U.S. stance on climate issues in recent weeks. President Barack Obama and China’s Xi Jinping announced a bilateral climate agreement at the Group of 20 summit a month ago. And Secretary of State John Kerry made an unexpected stop at the Lima talks, which already included an address by former Vice President Al Gore.
“The U.S. is now being seen as being credible when it comes to climate change,” Laurence Tubiana, the French diplomat who will preside over next year’s conference in Paris, said. “For the world, it is a welcome development.”
Pulgar-Vidal and Christiana Figueres, the U.N.’s top climate official, proclaimed the talks a success.
“A lot of good work was done in Lima,” Laurent Fabius, France’s foreign minister, said in a briefing. “But it left at least a little work to be done in Paris.”
Last week, Peru said activists from the environmental group Greenpeace damaged the world-renowned Nazca lines in the country’s coastal desert when they placed a large banner — designed to put pressure on the negotiators — next to the famed figure of a hummingbird. Greenpeace apologized, but the Peruvian government said it would seek criminal charges.
Contributing: Associated Press
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