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COP25 finally came to close early Sunday morning — making it the longest COP in the history of the process — and the negotiations fell dramatically short of global expectations for strong leadership on climate change.
The climate crisis gets worse by the day. We’re running out of time, climate damages in the U.S. and around the world are adding up, and humans (especially indigenous communities, communities of color, and island nations) are literally dying as leaders drag their feet to implement solutions. In our final digest, we’re sharing the top five things you need to know about what happened at COP25 as we look forward to 2020, a critical year for both local and global climate ambition.
1. Rules about Article 6 (carbon markets and trading) were left unfinished.
There were two disappointing outcomes from negotiators regarding this final piece of the Paris Agreement rulebook. First, all language mentioning human rights were removed from the draft text of the rulebook, fueling outrage from civil society observers (especially indigenous communities). Some countries were adamant about finding loopholes and undermining global efforts to cap carbon pollution through carbon credits. And lastly, the entire discussion around Article 6 will be pushed to COP26 in 2020 – with many countries deciding that no decision on carbon markets is better than a bad decision. However, without Article 6 resolved, not much else can move forward regarding mitigation, funding, and increased Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
2. No impressive developments regarding Loss and Damage.
As a refresher, Loss and Damage is the official mechanism outlining how developed, rich countries finance developing countries faced with destructive climate change impacts. No new or additional finances were announced; the countries most responsible for climate change failed to accept financial responsibility. In fact, several countries refused to commit to increasing their NDCs (the focal point for next year) until rich countries provide financial support to developing countries; another stalemate in the negotiations. Defining the rules for how Loss and Damage governance will work under the Paris Agreement was pushed to COP26, as well. This was another disappointing outcome not matching the scale and urgency we know is needed for vulnerable communities that are experiencing catastrophic impacts now.
3. Three countries were responsible for creating massive delays and blocks for higher ambition.
Brazil, Australia, and the United States were called out by Costa Rica’s environment and energy minister for blocking progress as they openly pushed for weakened language in the draft text of the Paris Agreement rulebook.
“Some of the positions are totally unacceptable because they are inconsistent with the commitment and the spirit that we were able to agree upon [in Paris in 2015],” Carlos Manuel Rodríguez said.
Despite the U.S. arranging to leave the Paris Agreement officially next November, the Trump Administration representatives played a harmful role this COP, providing cover for polluters and bolstering the determination of other countries to protect their own economic interests above the necessity for increased ambition.
4. Indigenous communities, vulnerable and developing countries, civil society observers, and youth made unprecedented calls for action.
The voices of marginalized communities often under-represented during the negotiations made ripples never-before seen at COPs. They were able to cut through the noise and reflect the urgent requirement for action that scientists say is necessary to keep the world below a 2C warming scenario.
“I have never seen the divide between what is happening between the inside of these walls and the outside so large,” said Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace.
From unsanctioned protests in the halls, indigenous youth storming the stages of plenary sessions alongside Greta Thunberg, and the international Climate Action Network holding an impromptu People’s COP closing plenary highlighting the voices and solutions of directly-impacted communities, the call was clear. The time for action is now, and civil society is awake and prepared to hold leaders accountable. We are just getting started.
5. There were small successes to celebrate as we move toward 2020.
Parties were able to agree on a new Gender Action Plan, included in the newest version of the rulebook text, intended to “support the implementation of gender-related decisions and mandates in the UNFCCC process”. The Chile presidency encouraged a focus on the climate-ocean connection, and how our seas hold power in both the impacts and solutions. And, perhaps the most ambitious announcement at COP25 was the European Union’s Green Deal, a comprehensive plan to reduce carbon emissions and address climate change, as well as setting a carbon-neutral goal by 2050.
Looking Ahead to COP26
2020 will be a crucial test for the Paris Agreement. The main focus for COP26? All nations must accelerate their climate action in the next year, revisiting their initial commitments under the agreement and increasing them. The world will be watching for a final rulebook that takes this emergency seriously while incorporating strong justice and human rights language.
In a press conference two days ago with U.S. media, our delegate Eric Wojchik reminded reporters that despite the inaction at the global and federal level here in the United States, there is still a lot of hopeful forward motion at local levels around the country.
We take these words with us as we look to the year ahead and know that our delegates are coming home inspired and fired up to work harder, and move faster.
Climate Generation Delegation Blogs
Sarah Goodspeed, Climate Generation
Jen Kader, Freshwater
Sabrina Patlan, Youth Delegate
Eric Wojchik, Metropolitan Council
Watch the webcasts we hosted throughout the experience
CLEAN Network Webinar
Sarah Goodspeed and Deb Morrison from U of Washington talk education at the COP.
Inside COP25 with Sarah Goodspeed – Part 1
Sarah Goodpseed and special guest Dr. Heidi Steltzer talk the Arctic and indigenous peoples.
COP25 + #TeachClimate
Inside COP25 with Sarah Goodspeed with special guest – Part 2
Sarah Goodspeed and delegate Eric Wojchik reflect back on the COP on their last night in Madrid.