GP Insights

GP Insights # 199, 7 December 2019

Spain: COP 25 begins in Madrid
Rashmi Ramesh

What happened?
Madrid is hosting the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2019. The events include the Conference of Parties (COP 25) to the UNFCCC, meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 2), meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 15), 51st session of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 51) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 51).

The main agenda for COP 25 is to discuss various matters related to the operationalization of the Paris Climate Change Agreement. Civil society groups, on the other hand, including those led by the young activist Greta Thunberg, have been holding demonstrations in the city, demanding stringent measures to combat climate change.

What is the background?
COP 25 initially was to be held in Santiago, Chile. However, due to protests and an unstable political situation, the event is now being hosted by Spain. The President of the Conference is Carolina Schmidt, Minister of Environment, Government of Chile.

Before COP 25, the world witnessed significant developments with respect to the environment and climate change. The United States walked out of the Paris Agreement formally but will remain as a party till 4 November 2020.

2019 witnessed large-scale climate-related disasters: massive wildfires in Brazilian Amazon, Arctic, Australia, and Indonesia; the death of a large Icelandic glacier Okjökull; devastating floods and cyclones in India and other parts of South Asia; and the mysterious oil spill along the Brazilian coast. Climate change has manifested itself in different forms across the globe.

The civil society in various developed countries has become more proactive and has been pressurizing the governments to undertake stringent measures to curb climate change. The role of youth in these protests is particularly evident.

The Pre-COP meeting aimed at bridging the UN Climate Action Summit and COP 25, was held in Costa Rica. It also discussed IPCC’s report on the “Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate” (SROCC) and other unresolved issues of COP 24.

What does it mean?
First, civil society has become much more active. People in developed countries have held mass protests against governments and policies that fuel climate change. Civil society is more concerned than big powers about the environmental issues and the repercussions. The United States government is on a climate denial mode. Ambassador Marcia Bernicat heads its delegation to the COP 25, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs. The quality of delegation depends upon the importance of a country attaches to the conference and its agenda.

Second, climate change conferences have either produced remarkable results or have not been successful in bringing the negotiating parties on the same board. Some meetings are a success from the very beginning. For example, the Paris Summit was bound to be successful due to the proactive role and firm stance of important countries. It is yet to be seen whether COP 25 will be a success or will short of expectations.

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