COP25-Opportunity Missed?

20th December 2019


By Nadiur Rahman

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I am disappointed with the results of COP25. The international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation and finance to tackle the climate crisis.”  -Antonio Guterres, UN secretary general

The Climate is already changing- Since the start of the industrial revolution, the world is currently 1.1°C warmer and we are in the midst of a global crisis as a result. At the current trajectory, the temperatures will exceed 3.2°C- 3.9°C by the end of the century which will cause destructive events impacting peoples lives around the globe.


What is COP25?

The Climate conference which is to be held in Madrid having been relocated due to political unrest in Chile. COP25 is the conference of parties to the UN Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which had been created to ensure the 2015 Paris Agreement is being implemented.

Why are the UN involved?

The growing pile of evidence and scientific discovery all reach the same conclusion that the rising temperatures is the driving force behind climate change. Consequently, the rapid rise in extreme weather events and the impacts on society leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. Science shows that the emissions are increasing at a continually upwards trend.

Greenhouse gas levels trapped in the atmosphere are at record amounts and the continuing trend will have detrimental effects on the future generations as they will be forced to grapple with the impacts of climate change including extreme weather events and disturbances to ecosystems both land and marine. All the while causing the temperatures to continually rise.

The 2019 Emissions Gap Report by the UNEP has outlined a target of 7.6% in annual emissions reduction for the next 10 years which must be adhered to. This will ensure the 1.5°C temperature limit when compared to pre-industrial limits will be met. The general consensus agreed upon by all parties are that this will require a great amount of effort and a global agreement must be reached.

Whats the significance of COP25?

In recent years, the limits on greenhouse gas emission has been outlined by the UNFCCC for the individual countries involved however due to the non-binding nature of the limits and a lack of enforcement, extensions were negotiated in previous COPs. This was seen most recently in the 2015 Paris Agreement which saw all countries agree to ramp up efforts to reduce emissions to ensure warming doesn’t exceed the 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures.

COP25 will be the final COP before the crucial year of 2020 when many of the member nations must pledge new action plans for the climate. The main topic of discussion will be the need to finance more worldwide climate action.

As it stands, there has not been enough climate action to specifically meet the 3 goals: 45% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions; net zero carbon footprint by the year 2050, and ensuring warming doesn’t exceed the 1.5°C limit by the turn of the century.

We are on the precipice of runaway warming and the world cannot afford to remain idle and must set ambitious, realistic, timely actions to preserve and safeguard the future generations.

What was achieved and what next?

Discussions went over into record time however a compromise deal has left many disappointed in a compromise deal to reduce emissions

Countries failed to agree on many of the hoped-for outcomes, including rules to set up a global carbon trading system and a system to channel new finance to countries facing the impacts of climate change.

Member countries at the COP25 conference failed to reach agreeable targets and terms to create a global carbon trading system and a suitable mechanism to funnel funds to the countries and people affected by climate change. The 2-week conference went overtime to become the longest climate summit in history as more than 200 delegates each from their respective countries struggled to reach an agreement. The rules and agreement for the carbon trading market has been pushed back to next year when the UK are expecting to host the climate conference in Glasgow.

Countries agreed in Paris in 2015 to revisit their climate pledges by 2020. But many countries were pushing this year for a clear call for all countries to submit more ambitious climate pledges next year. This is seen as a key means of ensuring countries put a focus on improving their current pledges, as well as empowering civil society to hold them to account.

But countries such as China and Brazil opposed placing any obligation on countries to submit enhanced pledges next year, arguing it should be each country’s own decision. They instead argued the focus should be on pre-2020 action by developing countries to meet their previous pledges

António Guterres, the UN secretary general, said he was disappointed with the outcome, and that leaders had missed an opportunity to be more ambitious on climate change mitigation, adaptation and finance for poorer countries. “But we must not give up, and I will not give up,”

Claire Perry O’Neill, the former UK climate minister who will be president of the Glasgow summit, argued it was better to have no deal on the carbon markets than a bad one. The UK would “pull no punches” in making the scheme work for everyone next year.

There was also no progress on “loss and damage” — which is the scheme created for countries vulnerable to climate change through extreme weather events, being able to claim economic relief from richer ones.

Scientists said the “minimum compromise” achieved in Madrid means the Glasgow meeting will now need to be turning point. “Postponing all the relevant issues is hardly in line with the climate emergency that we scientists highlighted during COP25,” said Johan Rockström at the University of Potsdam, Germany, in a statement. The WWF said the summit showed “a staggering failure of leadership by some countries”.

The inflexibility of big emission contributors — including China, USA, Brazil and India — at the summit led to the European Union, small island states and members of the public expressing frustration.

As the summit reached its end, a draft decision for countries to remove any need to update or enhance their climate action plans by 2020 caused tensions to rise.

The UN says that more than 70 countries are expected to submit stronger plans to curb carbon emissions next year, ahead of the Glasgow summit.

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