Negotiators have reached a deal at United Nations (UN) talks in Peru, setting the stage for a global climate pact in Paris in December 2015. The agreement, dubbed the Lima Call for Climate Action, for the first time in history commits every nation to reducing its rate of greenhouse gas emissions.
"As a text, it's not perfect but it includes the positions of the parties," said Peru environment minister and conference chair Manuel Pulgar-Vidal.
In addition to an "ambitious agreement" in 2015 that reflects each nation's "differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities," the Lima document calls for submission of national pledges by the first quarter of 2015 by those states "ready to do so" and for setting of national targets that go beyond countries' "current undertaking."
Countries already imperiled by climate change, such as small island states, were promised a "loss and damage" program of financial aid.
Through Belgium's pledge of $62 million, the UN Green Climate Fund met its initial target of $10 billion to aid developing countries in curbing carbon emissions.
"There is still considerable work to be done," said Felipe Calderon, former president of Mexico and chairman of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, at the conclusion of the talks. "But I am encouraged that countries, all around the world, are beginning to see that it is in their economic interest to take action now."
"We are happy that the final negotiated statement at COP20 in Lima has addressed the concerns of developing countries," said India's environment minister Prakash Javadekar. "It gives enough space for the developing world to grow and take appropriate nationally determined steps," he said.
But the negotiations, at which U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had made an impassioned plea for agreement, were considered a failure by those hoping for ambitious emissions reductions commitments.
"Against the backdrop of extreme weather in the Philippines and potentially the hottest year ever recorded, governments at the U.N. climate talks in Lima opted for a half-baked plan to cut emissions," said Samantha Smith, leader of World Wildlife Fund's global climate and energy initiative.
The remaining North-South divide over which countries should carry the majority of emissions-cutting costs--plus other thorny matters, such as how to finance poorer countries' reductions and preparations for extreme climatic events--has increased the diplomatic heavy-lifting required to reach a final agreement in 2015.
"They [countries] got through Lima by largely skirting the issue for now," said Elliot Diringer, executive vice president at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. "It's hard to see that flying in Paris."
Solar Net Metering Terms Set in South Carolina
An agreement filed in South Carolina outlines new terms for solar net metering in the state. The terms ensure homes, businesses, schools, and any nonprofit organizations using rooftop solar panels will be provided "one-to-one" retail credit (or full retail value) from the state's utilities for each kilowatt hour generated back to the electric grid--making South Carolina the 44th state (subscription) to allow for full rate credit.
Upon gaining approval from the South Carolina Public Service Commission, the agreement--supported by utilities such as Duke Energy and environmental groups--will provide homeowners the opportunity to lease solar systems while allowing utility companies to recoup costs of offering service.
According to Dukes Scott, executive director of the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff, proposed rules from the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan on reducing carbon emissions will help determine the value or contribution of solar power.
Last Big Warmup May Offer Sneak Peek into Today's Climate Change
Despite climate warming by five to eight degrees Celsius during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, nearly 55.5 million years ago, most of the species around that time survived. However, it took nearly 200,000 years for Earth to recover from that rise.
The Climate Post offers a rundown of the week in climate and energy news. It is produced each Thursday by Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.