December 16, 2014, by Tim McDonnell, This post first appeared at Mother Jones.
US Secretary of State John Kerry addresses the UN Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru, Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
Climate negotiators from nearly 200 countries are on their way home from Lima, Peru, after a series of last-minute compromises produced an agreement that, for the first time, calls on all countries to develop plans to limit their greenhouse gas emissions.
As the two weeks of global warming talks drew to a close, familiar fault lines emerged between wealthy countries — which are disproportionately responsible for causing climate change — and developing countries, which will be disproportionately impacted by it. In the end, both sides made sacrifices. Developing nations failed to convince the United States and other economic powerhouses to commit cash to fund climate adaptation efforts around the world. And the US lost a battle over a one-word change that made guidelines for countries’ climate commitments optional instead of mandatory. As a result, the agreement came out weaker than climate hawks had hoped for, because countries get plenty of wiggle room to potentially scale back their promises.
“I would say that whereas at the end of last week, the draft agreement was close to unambiguously positive, over the weekend it did get watered down,” said Harvard environmental economist Robert Stavins. (You can read his more detailed analysis here).