2019 has been a big year for climate action. We’ve seen Fridays for Futures, Climate Strikes, international conferences, climate summits and we’re now rounding the year out with COP25.
What is COP25?
COP25 is a two week international climate change conference held in Madrid, bringing together leaders from all across the world.
In the opening statement, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said “by the end of the coming decade we will be on one of two paths, one of which is sleepwalking past the point of no return.”
What was the key focus?
The main aim of COP25 was to come to an agreement on Article 6 of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement. Now four years on, this focused on the role of global carbon markets in helping countries to decarbonise.
For example, governments and private sector organisations would either be able to trade emissions reductions; buy carbon credits for developing green projects; or countries that had already gone beyond their targets could sell their overachievements to countries yet to meet their goals.
Hoesung Lee, chair for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), highlighted the devastating consequences of not taking action. He reported that “the world will suffer from shredded assets, the financial sector will have greater uncertainty and the environment will suffer from increased loss of diversity.”
Headlines in the media have been broadly negative about the outcomes of COP25. Leaders have failed to ‘address the key carbon markets issue’ with a lack of ambition and inability to create concrete actions.
COP25 has also highlighted just how difficult it is for countries of different backgrounds, priorities, economic systems, and levels of carbon reliance to come to an agreement that works for all. For example, Finland and the UK have stated that they will not use their carbon credits to reach net zero targets, whilst Norway and Canada have reported that they will.
Mixed outcomes defined COP25. During the conference, the EU announced that they had created a unanimous goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. However countries such as Poland, which currently derives 80 percent of its energy from coal, have been excused from this target and given more time to reach net zero.
COP25 in 2020 and the new decade
Looking to 2020, it is clear that climate action remains high on the agenda. Countries are set to announce individual national climate pledges (NCDs) early in the New Year. Whilst there is a feeling of disappointment surrounding the COP25 outcomes, there is ambition for increased action amongst leaders, activists and the people that climate change is affecting the most.