Five things we’ve spotted during five days of Lima climate talks

Spot the politician

The first week of COP talks are usually pretty quiet. Many delegates — including UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon — won’t arrive until next week. However, as Sophie Yeo at RTCC reports, political interest in the UN’s climate talks seems relatively low.  Perhaps the talks in New York earlier this year took up too much of the energy, and Lima is seen largely as a dress rehearsal for Paris. Of the 190 countries represented at the talks, only 119 will send a minister, fifteen less than last year’s Warsaw talks. Countries not represented by ministers include Russia, Venezuela, Greece, Iceland and Indonesia.

Spot the negotiator

There was also some surprise that the Philippines haven’t sent either Yeb Saño or Berneditas Muller, both well known names on the climate circuit. Nitin Sethi of Business Standard also notes the Philippines has moved out of the Like-Minded Developing Countries (LMDC) group, where it had become a leading voice, under pressure from the US and the EU. Some what enigmatically, Saño tweeted that if his silence is not understood, his words will be more meaningless, “Sometimes, silence is the most powerful scream.” One way to track the negotiators who are there is via the Adopt a Negotiator project, where young people track their countries’ roles at the UNFCCC.

Green Finance oopsie

Every day a country is awarded “Fossil of the Day Award” for their lack of action on climate change (or straightforward dangerous action to exacerbate the problem). Second this year went to Japan, who was caught spending money designed to help developing countries take action against climate change on Japanese companies building coal-fired power plants in Indonesia. As Newsweek put it, “Oopsie” as it highlights gaps in oversight over distribution of the key funds for tackling climate change and puts a cloud over some of the Green Climate Fund discussions at Lima.

Murder

One of the publications strategically released on the run up to the talks was Global Witness’ Peru’s Deadly Environment report, highlighting the large number of killings of environmental activists in Peru, part of their larger work on the topic of deaths of environmental and land defenders. As the talks opened this week, four widows of activists from the Ashéninka people of Saweto —  known for defending the Amazon rainforest and thought to have been murdered by illegal loggers — briefed journalists in Lima. As Megan Darby reports for RTCC, two of the women nursed young babies. Children are not welcome in the UN climate conference centre, so they ran their press event from an infant-free zone 45 minutes away by bus.

Weather

Another press event designed to use the early days of the talks to highlight ongoing problems was the World Meteorological Organization announcement that 2014 is set to be one of the hottest — if not the hottest — on record. They also released a series of global “weather forecasts from the future” to highlight the issue. In London, the Royal Society ran a secondary launch for their new report on Resilience to Extreme Weather, initially released at the Commonwealth Science Conference in Bangalore last month. But not all weather news works to the rhythms of a media plan. With an eerie echo of Typhoon Haiyan hitting the Philippines during the Warsaw talks last year, delegates learnt that the country was facing yet another Typhoon, Hagupit.


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