This year’s annual UN climate conference, COP25 in Madrid Climate Summit, became the longest on record when it concluded after lunch on Sunday, following more than two weeks of fraught negotiations. The conference was organized and hosted by the governments of Spain and Chile. Both countries boast world-class resources for renewables and are harvesting the opportunity to build-out their renewable portfolios over the coming decades.
- The high point of the meeting was the attendance of Greta Thunberg, who sent a strong message by crossing the Atlantic for the second time in less than three months on a tiny boat. It is no longer climate change but a climate emergency, and it is time for action.
- At last year’s COP24, no consensus was reached on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, which details rules for carbon markets and other forms of international cooperation. there should be a call for negative emissions to be traded under the Kyoto Protocol to offset emissions from developed countries.
- Global CO2 emissions have surged by 0.6% to 37 billion tonnes in 2019.Emissions must decrease to net-zero globally by 2050 to achieve carbon neutrality. In order to meet the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement, global greenhouse gas emissions must fall by 7.6% every year between 2020 and 2030.The UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) own emissions gap report, released just prior to the COP, showed the stretch 1.5C goal of the Paris Agreement is “slipping out of reach”. Even if existing climate pledges – countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs – are met, emissions in 2030 will be 38% higher than required to meet that target, the report concluded.
Key takeaways from Madrid Climate Summit:
The key deliverables from the 25th Conference of Parties (CoP 25) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Madrid (originally scheduled in Santiago, Chile) were two-fold:
- Rules under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, which deals with carbon trading or carbon markets
- The creation of a financial mechanism dedicated to loss and damage
- Climate Ambition Alliance
- Gender Action Plan
- Koronivia Agriculture plan
With some caveats, CoP 25 failed to deliver on these requirements.
‘Climate Ambition Alliance’-By Chile
The Climate Ambition Alliance brings together 73 nations submitting their enhanced NDCs by 2020, 11 States that have already started an internal process to increase ambition, as well as 65 countries and the EU, ten regions, 102 cities, 93 businesses and 12 investors working towards achieving net zero emissions by 2050.Chile will continue to lead efforts on mitigation on the road to COP 25 through the Mitigation Track of the Climate Ambition Alliance.
It will also lead adaptation efforts under the Alliance’s Adaptation Track.
In Madrid, was presented a renewed alliance of countries and Non-State Actors who determined to follow the recommendations of science as regards climate change. Chile has led this alliance after a request of the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, in the context of the 2019 Climate Summit.
Minister Schmidt announced that 73 nations have signaled their intention to submit an enhanced climate action plan (or Nationally Determined Contribution), and she acknowledged those 11 nations who have started an internal process to boost ambition and have this reflected in their national plans by 2020, as established in the Paris Agreement .
Finally, owing to its original location in Chile – a nation with around 4,000 miles of coastline – the leadership dubbed this year’s event the “blue COP”, laying out its intention to focus on oceans.
Rules on carbon markets
Ahead of COP25, many expected a key focus to be agreeing rules for “Article 6” carbon markets and other forms of international cooperation. This is the last remaining piece of the Paris regime to be resolved, after the rest of its “rulebook” was agreed in late 2018.
There was no consensus on rules under Article 6. At the closing plenary, all negotiators expressed deep disappointment at this failure, but some statements were more revealing than others.
Article 6 itself contains three separate mechanisms for “voluntary cooperation” towards climate goals, with the overarching aim of raising ambition. Two of the mechanisms are based on markets and a third is based on “non-market approaches”. The Paris Agreement’s text outlined requirements for those taking part, but left the details – the Article 6 “rulebook” – undecided.
- Article 6.2 governs bilateral cooperation via “internationally traded mitigation outcomes” (so-called ITMOs), which could include emissions cuts measured in tonnes of CO2 or kilowatt hours of renewable electricity.
- Article 6.4 would create a new international carbon market for the trade of emissions cuts, created by the public or private sector anywhere in the world.
- Article 6.8 offers a formal framework for climate cooperation between countries, where no trade is involved, such as development aid.
Loss and Damage-Madrid Climate Summit
Unlike with markets, there was a decision on loss and damage. Loss and damage refers to the unavoidable, irreversible impacts of climate change, where mitigation has failed and adaptation is not possible.It is important to distinguish it from adaptation, particularly, because while some ‘new and additional’ finance was committed to adaptation in the Paris Decision, loss and damage has not been similarly addressed yet.
It is a bellwether of whether the international process was responsive to the needs of the most vulnerable. It is clear that the impacts of warming will be differentiated, and there are already those who need financial support to cope with the impacts of extreme weather.
Financial support is one of the workstreams of the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage (WIM), which was set up in 2013. Work on this front has remained stagnant for six years, and vulnerable countries and activists were clear that COP25 needed to establish secure new and additional finance for loss and damage.
The debate coming into this CoP was initially centred on whether this finance would take the form of:
A finance arm of the WIM — opposed by developed countries because they consider it an admission of liability for climate change
A financing ‘window’ under the Green Climate Fund (GCF) — opposed by developing countries because it would risk diluting the distinction between loss and damage and adaptation, and effectively reducing the amount of finance available for both
The compromise that began to emerge a few days ago took a completely different tack — a “Santiago Network of experts” to “catalyse the technical assistance of relevant organizations, bodies, networks and experts”. This expertise is to be channelled toward the “implementation of relevant approaches at the local, national and regional level, in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change”.
This compromise has made into the final decision, along with exhortations to developed countries and the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to increase the amount of finance available for loss and damage.
Gender Action Plan-Madrid Climate Summit
- A rare success story at this year’s COP was a decision on a new five-year gender action plan (GAP), intended to “support the implementation of gender-related decisions and mandates in the UNFCCC process”. The original plan, agreed at COP20 in Lima, “seeks to advance women’s full, equal and meaningful participation and promote gender-responsive climate policy and the mainstreaming of a gender perspective”
Koronivia joint work on agriculture-Madrid Climate Summit
- While negotiators went back and forth over headline issues such as raising ambition and finishing the Paris rulebook, a little-discussed element of the COP known as the Koronivia joint work on agriculture also rumbled along.
- This three-year programme will finish in Glasgow at COP26. It consists of a series of workshops examining how to conduct agriculture in a world undergoing climate change.
- Previously, this strand has seen the African Group and other developing nations call for more money to support farming adaptation. In Madrid, Kenya once again raised this issue. As with other discussions around finance, developed countries have pushed back against these demands.
- The talks have addressed issues ranging from finance to soils, as well as one looking at manure – or more specifically “improved nutrient use and manure management towards sustainable and resilient agricultural systems”.
- Though some issues can now be addressed at the next Bonn intersessional meeting in June 2020, many of the key sticking points will need to be resolved in Glasgow at COP26.