8 December—The limelight shifted today to higher-level officials. Conference President and Peruvian Minister of the Environment Manuel Pulgar-Vidal opened the session saying that the signals were good for the Conference to conclude with a suite of decisions that might be called the “Lima Experience.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the audience in the vast plenary tent that, despite positive steps, he is “deeply concerned that our collective action does not match our common responsibilities.”

Bolivian President Evo Morales said the world could learn a lot from the wisdom of indigenous peoples. Developing countries, he said, suffer the most from climate change even though they contribute little to its cause.

And Nauru President Baron Waqa said he found a “distressing complacency” in the negotiations.

Dancing in the aisles—The eye-catching moment marking the opening of the high-level sessions was a parade of Andean dancers who danced down the long aisles, bringing the normally staid participants to their feet. And at the beginning of Wednesday’s high-level event, attended by the Presidents of Peru, Chile, and Colombia, streams of schoolchildren carried in two million petitions calling for climate action.


Examples of Peruvian culture suffused the Conference. UN Photo/Dan Shepard

High-level, sustainable cooking—Two of Peru’s most-famous chefs, Gastón Acurio and Virgilio Martínez, came to the Conference to give lessons in sustainable cooking to COP President Pulgar-Vidal, the UN Secretary-General, and UNFCCC head Christiana Figueres. The chefs helped the three VIPs prepare vegetarian ceviche, using cleaner, wood-fired cook stoves and locally sourced ingredients. The photo opportunity showcased the technology used in cook stoves, which have provided enormous social and environmental benefits to hundreds of thousands of people around the world, especially in developing countries.

With a view toward the endgame—Negotiator-speak abounds, with key words thrown around that seem to gain instant recognition. For example, countries often talk about a text needing balance—which usually means that a delegation’s views are not well represented—or, more broadly, that the text is tilted too much toward developing or developed countries. At this point of the Conference, the focus is on “red lines”—positions beyond which delegations cannot move.

Sour thoughts—Some destinations can be defined, perhaps, by a single drink. In Brazil, it may be the caipirinha; in Mexico, tequila; and in Cuba, rum. Here in Lima, it has been the pisco sour. It is served just about everywhere–even at the Conference venue. Pisco is so much a part of the landscape that Conference President Pulgar-Vidal said his goal was to end the COP at 6 p.m. Friday, so everyone could enjoy a pisco sour. History is not on his side: In the last eight years, no climate conference has ended on time.