On 15 December 2019, this year's UN climate conference in Madrid came to a close. The Chilean COP presidency had run the conference on the theme "time for action", but despite strenuous negotiations the final decisions on ambition raising hardly went further than what had already been agreed in Paris. Researchers from the Wuppertal Institute attended the conference and have now summarised the key outcomes of the negotiations. Their initial analysis concludes that Madrid once more highlighted the limits of the consensus-based UN climate conferences. An in-depth analysis report will be published in January.
From 2 to 15 December, the 25th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP25) was held in Madrid. Among the key issues addressed at the conference were increasing the level of ambition of climate action, finalising the implementation details of the Paris Agreement, and supporting developing countries with dealing with loss and damage due to the impacts of climate change.
The Wuppertal Institute's research team on global climate governance closely observed the climate change negotiations during the two-week conference and now presents its initial analysis of the conference and its outcomes. A detailed analysis report will be available in January.
Key outcomes of COP25
"Time is of the essence," remarks Prof. Dr. Manfred Fischedick, Vice-President of the Wuppertal Institute. "Global greenhouse gas emissions are continuing to rise – with 2019 marking a new record year. Unfortunately, none of the major emitting countries used the occasion in Madrid to announce that they were going to strengthen their climate protection contributions. It was also not possible to agree on planning for the further process in 2020. In order to facilitate an initial global evaluation before the next conference in Glasgow in November 2020, all contributions should be submitted by the middle of next year at the latest."
"Moreover, much negotiation time was spent preventing the creation of loopholes in the framework for the cooperative mechanisms under Article 6," adds Lukas Hermwille, Project Co-Ordinator in the Research Unit Global Climate Governance in the Energy, Transport and Climate Policy Division at the Wuppertal Institute. "It's tragic that it needs to be seen as a success that it was possible to deflect the attacks on the integrity of the Paris Agreement and postpone the conclusion of the topic to the next meeting."
Ambition Raising in 2020?
"Whether 2020 will become the year of ambition raising will to a large extent depend on the EU," says Wolfgang Obergassel, Co-Head of the Research Unit Global Climate Governance in the Energy, Transport and Climate Policy Division at the Wuppertal Institute. The EU and China have scheduled a summit for September to help prepare the next COP in Glasgow. This summit may only become a success if the EU does not come empty-handed. The EU should take a decision before the summit with China to strengthen its emission reduction target for 2030 to at least 55 per cent compared to 1990 levels. "To make this possible, the European Commission should publish its proposal for the target revision within the first 100 days of the new Commission, as Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had initially announced. If the Commission publishes its proposal later, this will likely not leave enough time for the EU to come to an agreement before September," Obergassel explains.
Given its high historical emissions and high economic capability, the EU has the responsibility to take the lead and not wait for moves from others before taking its decision. "The EU as a whole should therefore follow the example of Denmark, which recently adopted a climate act and substantially increased its targets," Obergassel adds. Denmark has now legally committed itself to reduce its emissions by at least 70 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030. An EU target of at least 55 per cent, therefore, seems more than appropriate.
Germany will in 2020 have a special leadership role for the EU
"Having the EU council presidency in the second half of 2020, Germany will have a key role in the positioning of the EU," emphasises Fischedick. "Therefore, the German government needs to reclaim a frontrunner position and end its current blockade of ambitious measures at national and European level, for the benefit of the climate but also of the German economy, which has significant potential on the growing international climate protection markets. Given that Germany is set to miss its 2020 climate targets by a wide margin, forces now need to be joined to increase the targets for 2030 and securely achieve them. The climate protection programme that has so far been developed by the German government falls far short in this regard."
In-depth analysis report to be published in January
The Wuppertal Institute will publish its in-depth analysis of COP25 in January. The report will take a closer look at the various issues addressed at the conference and at other related topics.
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