COP25 2019

COP 25 summary

Reinhard Mechler (IIASA)

COP25, the 25th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Madrid, was unable to achieve the necessary results in the first year after Fridays For Future. 2 weeks of intensive negotiations at the summit jointly organized by Spain and Chile in Madrid only led to minimal compromises. Rules for global CO2 trading (Article 6 of the Paris Climate Agreement) could not be agreed. During the negotiations, there was a risk of an agreement that would have allowed some countries to count emission certificates from avoidance activities twice or from the previous Kyoto assessment period, which would massively undermine the achievement of the 1.5 oC target. In the end, the realization prevailed that no result was the better result and that the negotiations should continue next year.

The second major topic discussed was financial support for particularly affected countries and municipalities, especially for climate impacts that occur despite adaptation. Here, too, no consensus could be found on new financing mechanisms; only the option of access to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) was vaguely agreed, although this now needs to be fleshed out and replenished more intensively.

The strengthening of collective climate ambition towards the 1.5 °C target, the core of the Paris Agreement, which is binding under international law but based on voluntary action, also failed to achieve a real breakthrough, as hoped for by many negotiators and vehemently demanded by civil society in particular, due to political upheavals. The Chilean conference presidency was unable to present stricter climate protection targets as planned due to internal unrest. Some 'climate change-sceptical' countries, such as the USA, Saudi Arabia and Brazil, generally tried to undermine the agreement and prevent consensus.

A ray of hope: The Green Deal presented by the new EU Commission to achieve 'net zero' greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 was positively received. As an interim step, the EU-wide reduction target has been increased from 40% to 50% by 2030. The climate plan, which covers all policy areas, now needs to be fleshed out and it is the task of all EU member states to make it relevant. Austria would also be required to comply with its agreements and ensure that the National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) submitted to the EU Commission robustly delivers at least the necessary 36% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 (calculated on the basis of 2005). The NECP adopted by the government on December 18, 2020 does not yet claim to meet these requirements. In any case, the implementation of the Green Deal will require a considerable increase in ambition. 

Despite the strong and committed presence and actions of civil society (with good Austrian participation), the Madrid negotiations were overall an inadequate start to 2020, the beginning of the implementation of the Paris Agreement. It is now important to increase climate ambition on climate protection and adaptation in order to adequately tackle the climate crisis. As outlined in the Madrid Final Communiqué, science has a particularly important role to play in generating evidence-based support for the evaluation of planned and implemented measures as part of a climate-friendly transformation. With this in mind, the CCCA is happy to continue offering its support to Austrian decision-makers.