WHAT IS COP25?
COP25 is the 25th annual conference on climate change by the United Nations. It took place this year in Madrid, Spain, 2 – 13 December, after being forced to change location from Santiago, Chile to avoid protests and riots at the Chilean capital.
COP25 aimed to solidify the legislative “operating manual” for how to achieve the goals set in the Paris climate agreement to take effect in 2020 by settling on rules for carbon markets and international cooperation.
WHAT HAPPENED? OR BETTER PUT, WHAT DIDN’T HAPPEN?
The two-week conference became the longest on record following fraught negotiations which saw the conference wrap up Sunday afternoon, nearly two days after the scheduled Friday close. Despite a year of what felt like a paradigm shift in climate talks and proposed action – led in part by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg – the negotiations ended with few tangible outcomes.
The theme for this year, Time for Action, was not realised as the world’s biggest emitters failed to sign onto any binding emissions reduction agreement. The statement also failed to settle on any new rules for trading carbon emissions credits, or how to help developing countries hit the hardest by climate change to access funding and resources. Competing national interests proved insurmountable in the face of calls for increased action.
The UN secretary-general António Guterres tweeted he was “disappointed” as talks closed on Sunday. “The international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation, and finance to tackle the climate crisis. But we must not give up, and I will not give up.”
Amongst the 200 countries who attended COP25, the ambitious final statement calls for more action to fight climate change next year. This is when the next round of national commitments to restrict greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris climate agreement is scheduled to take place, first in Germany in June, followed by COP26 in Scotland in November 2020.
At the heart of many meeting and debates at COP25 is the injustice of climate change: the people who have contributed least to climate change stand to suffer the most while those who have gained the most from emitting greenhouse gases will suffer the least.
The extreme weather events seen in 2019, such as the two cyclones that hit Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe just weeks apart, should act as further warnings of the urgency to accelerate action against climate change.
The international community now needs to deliver bolder and more decisive action in the next round of talks in Glasgow 2020 to address this global injustice.