Climate negotiations conclude at UN Climate Change Conference COP25
The UN Climate Change Conference COP25 in Madrid, Spain, concluded in overtime. The Conference was challenging both technically and politically, and several issues were deferred until future meetings as the Parties were unable to agree. The main progress made at the Conference included strengthened action to address loss and damage, an updated gender action plan, strong political signals on the importance of countries raising the bar in their climate action in 2020, and the importance of strengthening the link between oceans and the climate.
One of the issues on which the Parties were unable to agree was rules on how countries can achieve parts of the targets in their national climate plans through cooperation with other countries. This can be done via emissions trading, for example, or through one country implementing climate measures in another country.
“It is unfortunate that we were unable to agree on these rules. However, both Sweden and the EU had made it very clear that we will not accept rules that risk undermining the goals and purpose of the Paris Agreement. For this reason, we would rather the negotiations on these issues continue at future meetings. For us, it is completely crucial that the rules guarantee that these forms of cooperation lead to real emissions reductions, and that climate measures implemented in another country lead to positive developments for both the climate and the country in which the measure is undertaken,” says Minister for Environment and Climate Isabella Lövin.
Another important issue at the Conference was the importance of raising the bar for global climate action, and ensuring that efforts are consistent with the latest science. The negotiations resulted in documents that will give additional weight to research from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The Parties also approved documents urging all Parties to submit updated national climate action plans in 2020.
“Important steps towards higher ambitions were taken during the Conference, not least through the presentation by the EU of the Green Deal, with its target of becoming the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050. Nonetheless, progress is too slow and more countries must step up the pace of their national climate action. We need to show the world that we treat the climate crisis with the utmost seriousness. The importance of greater ambition must therefore also be reflected in the climate action plans that all countries are due to submit next year,” says Ms Lövin.
Another important matter for negotiation was the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change Impacts.
“Sweden has long been a driving force for ensuring that more is done to support the countries hardest hit by climate change, and we are currently one of the largest per capita donors of climate aid. At the Conference, the Parties agreed that more financing is needed, and a working group to support this was established. A network was also established to provide technical assistance to developing countries,” says Ms Lövin.
To achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, it is important that everyone has the opportunity to participate in climate efforts. At the Conference, the Parties therefore agreed on an updated gender action plan. The new plan covers a five-year period and contains specific activities to strengthen gender mainstreaming in decision-making processes associated with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and in countries’ own climate action.
Ahead of the Conference, Chile stated that through its Presidency, it wanted to highlight the climate’s impact on the oceans. During the two weeks of the Conference, several high-level meetings were held in this area and a platform was launched to help create positive synergies between oceans and the climate. Sweden has long been a driving force for strengthening the link between the oceans and the climate, and is co-chair of the Ocean Pathway project.
“It is gratifying that ocean issues were given additional space at this year’s conference. This is an important issue for many countries, not least for a number of the small island states that have already been hit hard by rising sea levels. As we now enter the implementation phase of the Paris Agreement, it is important to integrate ocean issues into our work,” says Ms Lövin.