COP25 ends on disappointing note

The 25th UN climate conference (COP25) in Madrid drew to a close without an agreement on binding rules for the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement.
credit: Adobe Stock

By Martin Banks

16 Dec 2019

The COP25 talks were viewed as a test of governments’ collective will to heed the advice of science to cut greenhouse gas emissions more rapidly, in order to prevent rising global temperatures from hitting irreversible tipping points.

But after two weeks of negotiations, the conference, in its concluding draft, endorsed only a declaration on the “urgent need” to close the gap between existing emissions pledges and the temperature goals of the landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement - an outcome UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called ‘disappointing.’

Many developing countries and campaigners had wanted to see much more explicit language spelling out the importance of countries submitting bolder pledges on emissions as the Paris process enters a crucial implementation phase next year.


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The next climate summit will take place in Glasgow in November 2020, where countries are supposed to present their plans for achieving the Paris targets.

Reaction from MEPs and campaign groups to the outcome of the much-vaunted meeting in Spain, moved at short notice from Chile, was swift, with most voicing disappointment.

The S&D coordinator for the environment committee, Jytte Guteland, described it as a “very disappointing outcome and another missed opportunity.”

“Once again, world leaders failed to live up to the expectations of citizens and young generations who called for awareness of the need for concrete and immediate action to reduce global warming.”

“While the world is still heading for more than 3 degrees of warming, the final resolution fails to fully address the climate emergency and only includes a timid call for increasing ambition ahead of next year’s Glasgow summit” Bas Eickhout MEP

The deputy, part of a four-strong S&D delegation in Madrid, said  it was “unfortunate” no agreement was reached on the “most sensitive and crucial issues”, such as the so-called rulebook for the Paris Agreement, the guidance on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, transparency of reporting obligations, the leftover credits from the Kyoto system and the financing of the Adaptation Fund to help the least developed countries in the transition.

Guteland said, “It is deeply regrettable that the Parties could not manage to come to an agreement, despite the best efforts from the EU. It is a setback but the fight is far from over. Now we need to roll up our sleeves even further and keep pushing so that an agreement can be found in Glasgow in 2020.”

“The EU has played a constructive role throughout these negotiations and pushed for stronger commitments from the Parties to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The European Green Deal is a clear testament of the EU's intention to act swiftly and resolutely to do our part in the global efforts to limit climate change.”

“We regret that no agreement was found but we are determined to continue our fight for fair and bold solutions to climate change. The EU played an assertive and leading role as a constitutive and progressive negotiator and will strengthen its climate efforts further with the European Green Deal.”

Further reaction came from Greens MEP Bas Eickhout, head of Parliament’s delegation to COP25, who said, “The big gap between insufficient climate policies around the world and the objectives of the Paris Agreement has not narrowed. This must have consequences for trade talks that the EU is currently having with the biggest obstructors.”

“Once again, world leaders failed to live up to the expectations of citizens and young generations who called for awareness of the need for concrete and immediate action to reduce global warming” Jytte Guteland MEP

“Once again, no progress has been made to bring countries more in line with the 1.5 degrees target of the Paris Agreement. While the world is still heading for more than 3 degrees of warming, the final resolution fails to fully address the climate emergency and only includes a timid call for increasing ambition ahead of next year’s Glasgow summit.”

“The gap between what science tells us to do and what politicians deliver on climate summits is enormous. Nothing has changed in that regard.”

From the NGO community, Susann Scherbarth, climate justice campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, said, “This COP has been another chance lost to listen to the people on the streets demanding climate justice, and every missed opportunity closes the window for action and means more irreversible climate impacts around the globe.”

“The climate talks will take place in Europe again next year, for the fourth time running, and from now until then we will keep up the pressure on governments to deliver urgent transformative action to create sustainable societies within the Earth’s limits.”

Wendel Trio, director of Climate Action Network Europe, said, “During COP25, the EU has repeatedly said it wants to lead by example. To prove its sincerity and leadership to implement the Paris Agreement, the EU needs to substantially increase its 2030 climate pledge in the first months of 2020.”

“Every missed opportunity closes the window for action and means more irreversible climate impacts around the globe” Susann Scherbarth, Friends of the Earth Europe

“The window of opportunity to achieve the 1.5°C objective of the Paris Agreement is closing rapidly.”

Elsewhere, Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace International, commented, “This COP exposed the role of polluters in politics and the youth’s deep distrust of government, as climate blockers like Brazil and Saudi Arabia, enabled by an irresponsibly weak Chilean leadership, peddled carbon deals and steamrolled scientists and civil society.”

Sofie Nordvik, representing Norway’s youth delegates, noted, “We lack the ambition needed to avoid this climate emergency. Our leaders need to step up. The world would have looked very different if young people were in charge today.”

“It seems that EU now needs to be the leader and we want to be, and we are going to be and that is what we are doing,” said Krista Mikkonen, Finland’s environment minister and the EU’s representative at the talks.

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