The United Nations Climate Change Conference COP25 will be held in Madrid from 2 to 13 December 2019. The conference will focus on how to make individual countries' contributions to climate protection more ambitious. Furthermore, it is to finalise the outstanding detailed rules for the implementation of the Paris Agreement. The Wuppertal Institute has been observing the ongoing negotiations since the start of the UN climate process and analysing their outcomes. As part of the accompanying events at COP25, it will be presenting its research and discussing specific ways to implement the Paris Climate Agreement.
In December, the eyes of the world will be on Madrid, where the 25th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will take place. Around 30,000 representatives from the world of politics and non-governmental organisations, as well as stakeholders from business and research are expected to attend this UN Climate Change Conference.
With the Paris Agreement in 2015, the international community set itself the target of keeping the rise in the global mean temperature since the start of industrialisation well below 2 degrees Celsius and to pursue efforts to limit it even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. However, with the pledges made by the countries so far – the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) – global warming is anticipated to reach 3 to 4 degrees Celsius. According to the rules of the Paris Agreement, the countries are required to present new or revised NDCs by 2020.
Implementing the Paris accord means boosting ambition
"A strong signal must be sent out from Madrid that there is a willingness to be much more ambitious in terms of climate protection," says Prof. Dr. Manfred Fischedick, Vice-President of the Wuppertal Institute, adding: "The best thing would be for as many countries as possible to bring concrete pledges to the table in Madrid and increase their ambitions. As the very least, however, we need to insist that countries submit significantly improved contributions over the next year. In order to facilitate an initial global evaluation before the next conference in Glasgow in November 2020, all contributions must be submitted by the middle of next year at the latest. The international community is clearly still moving in the wrong direction. The emissions figures for the G20 countries were just recently submitted for 2018, and showed that carbon emissions did not decrease from 2017 to 2018, but actually increased by 1.8 per cent."
It is of crucial importance that the conference explicitly uses the current special reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as the assessment standard for the countries’ contributions. "The benchmark is clear: global carbon emissions must be halved by 2030 and reduced to zero by 2050 in order to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. Countries must therefore significantly increase their short-term contributions. They should also develop long-term strategies for achieving the zero-emission target and set out a clear road map to this end. In industrial countries such as Germany, in light of its historical responsibility, we need to achieve this objective before 2050 in order to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement," explains Fischedick.
Negotiating the "small print"
A further challenge in Madrid will be completing the detailed rules on how to implement the Paris Agreement. The rules for most aspects of the Agreement were agreed at last year's conference in Katowice, Poland. However, the arrangements for the cooperation mechanisms under Article 6 of the Agreement remained unresolved. These mechanisms are intended to allow countries to cooperate in implementing their contributions and to transfer emission reductions. Furthermore, how the countries are to report on the implementation of their contributions needs to be spelled out in greater detail.
"As with any contract, the small print is of vital importance," says Wolfgang Obergassel, Co-Head of the Research Unit Global Climate Governance, Energy, Transport and Climate Policy at the Wuppertal Institute. "The rules of implementation for Article 6 must ensure that only ambitious measures are promoted under Article 6 and that there are no loopholes. In particular, both the host nations for the specific measures and the foreign investors must be prevented from being able to claim the same reductions. It must also be ensured that the use of Article 6 strengthens climate protection contributions rather than simply shifting the reductions from one country to another. The conference is also to agree minimum standards for avoiding negative social and ecological impacts of climate protection measures," says Obergassel.
Furthermore, the handling of loss and damage due to climate change will once again be a key topic at the climate negotiations in Madrid. Developing countries, which are particularly affected by the negative impacts of climate change, need external support to assess the anticipated damage, adopt countermeasures and deal with the existing effects of climate change. In 2013, the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage (WIM) was established to provide support for particularly vulnerable developing countries in this respect. The climate conference in Madrid is expected to assess the extent to which this mechanism provides effective support for vulnerable countries or whether it needs to be improved. The discussions will focus in particular on improving the provision of funding.
The Wuppertal Institute provides impetus for the future with side events
The Wuppertal Institute is organising a series of side events at COP25 to present its research projects and findings and promote discussions with delegates and partners in practice. The side events reflect topics that will be negotiated in Madrid. Alongside these, ways of reducing emissions and promoting sustainable development in practice will also be discussed. The main focuses will be on "Climate protection in the industrial sector" and "Pathways to sustainable mobility".
Analysing the outcomes of the conference
Shortly after the conference closes, the Wuppertal Institute will publish an initial evaluation of the outcomes. A detailed analytical report is scheduled to follow in January 2020. Further information on COP25 can be found under the following links.
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