Saturday

8th May 2021

COP25 ends with no deal on carbon markets

  • EU commissioner for the Green Deal, Frans Timmermans (r). While the European Union (but not Poland) and Canada recently committed to climate neutrality by 2050, no other bigger emitters have issued new pledges (Photo: La Moncloa - Gobierno de España)

Climate negotiations at the UN conference in Madrid (COP25) ended on Sunday (15 December) with a partial agreement that asks countries to enhance their targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions - aiming to meet the 2015 Paris Agreement objectives.

However, almost 200 countries failed to agree on article six of the Paris Agreement, concerning the carbon markets system.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"The international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation and finance to tackle the climate crisis," said UN secretary general, Antonio Guterres.

For a conference given the slogan "Time for Action," little was accomplished.

A UN report released last month warned that the world is currently headed toward a 3.2 degrees temperature rise by the end of the century, urging industrialised countries to raise their ambition to enact deeper emissions cuts.

While the European Union (but not Poland) and Canada recently committed to climate neutrality by 2050, no other big emitters have made new ambitious pledges.

Fewer than half of those taking part in the talks (80 countries - and accounting only for about 10 percent of global emissions), expressed their intention to achieve net-zero emissions targets by mid-century.

China, India and other smaller developing countries are demanding rich countries' economic support to finance climate goals.

However, the biggest absence at the climate summit was the United States - the second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, but the largest historical emitter.

According to the Finnish environment minister and EU representative at the conference, Krista Mikkonen, the outcome of the COP25 was a "real disappointment" from the EU's perspective.

"It seems that the EU now needs to be the leader [for climate action]," she added.

Carbon market disagreement

Despite all the commitments of negotiators, countries did not reach an agreement on article six of the Paris Agreement, referring to the regulation of carbon market systems, set up to help countries decarbonise their economies at lower cost - the last section of the rulebook which remains unresolved.

This issue will be once again discussed in the next round of UN climate negotiations that will take place in Bonn in June 2020 and also in Glasgow at the COP26 in November.

This carbon markets system would allow nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and convert those emissions reductions into tradable credits.

However, the lack of agreement might undermine the entire accord and even lead to an increase in emissions.

"It is disappointing that after years of hard work and especially during the last two weeks that we could not agree on article six," the EU delegation said in a statement.

"We think, however, that we came much closer to agreement than previously, and this is something that we can build on in our future deliberation," it added.

Catastrophe

Environmental groups have described the lack of agreement as a "catastrophe".

According to Helen Mountford, from the environmental think tank World Resources Institute, "given the high risks of loopholes discussed in Madrid, it was better to delay than accept rules that would have compromised the integrity of the Paris Agreement".

"It's outrageous the European Union wants us to believe it's putting 'a man on the moon' with its new Green Deal proposals, but in the global arena it is falling far short of its fair share of climate action," said Susann Scherbarth, climate justice campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe.

The strategy chief from the Union of Concerned Scientists, Alden Meyer, pointed out that there is a disconnection between what the science requires and what the climate negotiations are delivering in terms of meaningful action.

"Most of the world's biggest emitting countries are missing in action and resisting calls to raise their ambition," Meyer added.

The executive director at NGO Oxfam International, Chema Vera, believes that UN nations have just argued over technicalities, instead of committing to more ambitious cuts in emissions.

"Wealthy nations have used every trick in the book to stall progress and avoid paying their fair share," Vera said, adding that "now more then ever, it is vital that people across the world keep up the pressure on governments to deliver more ambitious climate action".

Three EU chiefs present 'green revolution' at Madrid COP25

The presidents of the European Commission, Parliament and Council on Monday all attended the UN climate conference (COP25) in Madrid to ensure that Europe speaks with 'one voice' about the challenges of climate change.

COP25 talks open in Madrid, with focus on carbon market

About 200 heads of government and state and more than 25,000 delegates from all over the world, will gather at the UN climate conference (COP25) on Monday to negotiate on a carbon market system and establish a common time frame.

EU reaches deal to define 'sustainable' investment

The agreement is the first step to set a framework for sustainable finance, that will help investors and consumers to identify economic activities that can unambiguously be considered environmentally green.

Kerry resets climate relations before Glasgow summit

John Kerry, the US special presidential envoy, was in Brussels to discuss how to tackle climate change with the European Commission. His appearance also marked a major shift in relations after the previous US administration under Donald Trump.

Commission: Pioneering Nordics' energy mix 'example' to EU

The Nordic electricity market is an example of successful market integration plus climate action, as the share of sustainable energy keeps growing, the European Commission said. However, the decarbonisation of the transport sector remains a challenge.

News in Brief

  1. Report: Czech minister plotted to bury evidence on Russian attack
  2. Putin promotes Russia's 'Kalashnikov-like' vaccine
  3. Coronavirus: Indian variant clusters found across England
  4. UN report encourages EU methane cuts
  5. EU court upholds ban on bee-harming pesticides
  6. Israeli tourists welcomed back by EU
  7. EU duped into funding terrorist group, Israel says
  8. Brussels prepares portfolio of potential Covid-19 treatments

EU faces long wait for full vaccine supplies

The EU is still several months away from having enough vaccines to inoculate its 450 million people, with Pfizer and BioNTech, its principle suppliers, aiming for September for delivery targets.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. EU ambassadors flock to Red Square for Putin's parade
  2. MEPs win battle for bigger citizens' voice at Conference
  3. Hungary gags EU ministers on China
  4. Poland and Hungary push back on 'gender equality' pre-summit
  5. EU preparing to send soldiers to Mozambique
  6. EU now 'open' to vaccine waiver, after Biden U-turn
  7. EU mulls using new 'peace' fund to help Libyan coast guard
  8. Poland 'breaks EU law' over judges, EU court opinion says

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us