GP Insights # 203, 15 December 2019
COP-25 concluded in Madrid after twelve days of negotiations on pertinent questions on climate change. Countries discussed the framework for the operationalization of the Paris Agreement. Negotiations were held on the mechanisms in the global carbon market and the issue of trade of carbon credits. Notably, the European Commission published the "European Green Deal" containing some action-focused objectives. Most importantly, it proposes a European 'Climate Law' and the 'European Climate Pact', emphasizing on climate neutrality by 2050.
What is the background?
COP-25 was initially to be held in Chile. However, due to ongoing protests, Spain hosted the event.
2019 was an eventful year with regards to environment and climate change. It witnessed several severe natural/human-induced disasters ranging from wildfires, cyclones, floods and melting of glaciers. There were large-scale protests by civil society, pressurizing various governments to act on climate change. Such protests were seen in Madrid even during the course of the COP. The role of youth is particularly evident in this regard. A pre-COP meeting was held, which aimed at acting as a bridge between the United Nations Climate Action Summit and COP-25.
What does it mean?
First, there was a clear distinction between developed and developing countries that could be observed during the conference. There was no breakthrough in the negotiations on the trade of carbon credits. The developed countries failed to agree on the proposal to carry forward the carbon credits from the Kyoto Protocol to the Paris Agreement. Additionally, the issue of meeting the pre-2020 targets was another point of contention. Some of the countries have still not met the pre-2020 targets.
Second, the European countries seem to be more sensitive with regards to climate change. The European Green Deal published by the European Commission represents much-needed seriousness on this critical issue. The Asian countries are amongst the highest emitters, and the United States has withdrawn from the Paris Agreement. In this case, the European countries are those among responsible actors.
Third, civil society has become more aware and knowledgeable about environmental issues. The big powers, on the other hand, are showing dismal commitment towards any action that would combat climate change. It leads us back to essential questions- does climate action begin at the lowest level? Is a bottom-up approach more effective than a top-down one?
The COP-25 was another failure in addressing climate change. It produced no concrete result and therefore, negotiations will be carried forward to 2020.