Thursday

6th Aug 2020

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

Support quality EU news

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.

Recovery plan slammed for failing to tackle climate crisis

EU leaders agreed that about a third of the €750bn recovery package and the €1.074 trillion seven-year budget will be invested in projects contributing to climate action. However, environmental activists said that the package falls short on climate safeguards.

Regions urge EU to act on 'green hydrogen'

The EU's regions urged the unlocking of the potential of hydrogen produced from renewable sources, so-called 'green hydrogen', to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.

France shuts oldest reactor amid Macron climate pledges

France's oldest nuclear power plant finally closed on Tuesday, one day after president Emmanuel Macron pledged to speed up the country's transition to a greener economy responding to the proposals from the French citizens' convention on climate.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Latest News

  1. Rainbow flag protesters charged by Polish police
  2. An open letter to the EPP on end of Hungary's press freedom
  3. Renew Europe has a plan to combat gender-violence
  4. Why EU beats US on green pandemic recovery
  5. Azerbaijan ambassador to EU shared anti-George Floyd post
  6. Polish party roars back at EU on LGBTI fines
  7. EU: Hong Kong election delay undermines democracy
  8. Why hydrogen is no magic solution for EU Green Deal

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us