After quite some celebration, media hype and self-gratulations over the US and China deal, time for a cold shower: the prospects of a Paris 2015 agreement that delivers a path to a below 2°C warming are anything but certain. This negotiation round, Conference of Parties in Lima, Peru, that started last Monday will need to deliver key decisions to know wether the pledges, such as those made by US and China, will match what climate science says is necessary.
The COP needs to set the scope and content of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, [the INDCS, Warsaw innovation for the non-grata word "target"] in order for those commitments to be quantifiable in terms of emissions, and so that they can eventually be verified, monitored and reported to ensure compliance.
The transparency and quantification of the intended contributions is also the basis for an international assessment of their fairness, as well as their aggregation to check the collective adequacy of the pledges. Needless to say, the Lima meeting should set up a process under the UNFCCC negotiations for such assessment and aggregation, well in time before the Paris meeting in order to spur increases in ambition where necessary.
International finance for climate action in developing countries will be essential to build confidence for the new agreement - but also to ensure the necessary adaptation and mitigation action can be taken. In Copenhagen developed countries committed to USD 100 billion per year by 2020, and it is still not clear how and whether that commitment will be met. Lima must agree a roadmap for meeting the pre-2020 promise, and make progress for a framework for predictable, adequate and additional climate finance in the context of the Paris agreement.
The COP should also agree on a draft negotiation text for the last year of discussions - the extent to which this is achieved will be telling of the chances for a legally binding agreement in Paris 2015.
Last but not least: in order to ensure Paris agreement and targets after 2020 are able to shift the world off the path of climate disaster, the COP will need to make crucial progress towards closing the emissions gap before 2020. The EU would be able to lead by example by adjusting its Kyoto Protocol 2020 target to the level it will achieve with current policies, somewhere around domestic -25% compared to 1990.
The world has already consumed two thirds of the global carbon budget available to maintaining climate change to 2C. We have about 1000 gigatonnes left (until forever!), which would be consumed in less than thirty years at the current rate of emissions. Every year of delay in capping and peaking global emissions brings closer the year when the world has to be completely carbon neutral. Delaying action will only make tackling emissions more expensive and more risky.
The Greens will be present in Lima until the end of the climate negotiations. Follow the Greens official representative Bas Eickhout MEP as well as Yannick Jadot MEP on twitter. You can also follow us @Greens_climate