The UN Climate Change Conference COP25 underway in Madrid, Spain kicked off on Tuesday with a high-Level Segment that sent out reminders that international community is running out of time to effectively tackle the climate crisis and must change course and step up ambition in order to prevent the worst climate impacts.
Speaking during the event, Malawi’s minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Bintony Kutsaira said he hoped COP25 will provide critical momentum for urgent action to tackle climate emergency.
Kutsaira’s remarks were echoed by UN General Secretary, Antonio Guterres who urged countries to honour their pledges made in Paris in 2015 to scale up their national climate pledges every five years—starting in 2020.
During COP21 held in Paris, France, Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) came up with Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)—a blueprint for countries climate ambitions to transform their development trajectories so that they set the world on a course towards sustainable development, aiming at limiting global warming to 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
“In 2020, we must deliver what the scientific community has defined as a must, or we and every generation that follows will pay an unbearable price,” Guterres said adding that this means reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent from 2010 levels by 2030 and to achieve net zero Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2050.
Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change (UNFCCC), made a passionate appeal to ministers to make progress during the last remaining days of the Conference of Parties (COP).
“On both a professional and personal level, my message to you is this: We need your decisions. We need your leadership. We are out of time,” she said.
The UN’s top climate change official also said she was optimistic that progress could be made, given that the Paris Agreement remained an “unprecedented multilateral success story.”
Negotiations which started on December 2 2019, have generally been moving at a slow pace than expected. There are three main sticky issues that have now proceeded to ministers for political negotiations and consultations.
One of them is the issue of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement which talks about Carbon Management. Negotiations on this article are focusing ondeveloping a new mechanism for carbon management in the new Paris agreement. Some countries which have historically had a lot of carbon sinks such as forests are negotiating to carry over the carbon seized over the years into the new climate regime. This would give them undue advantage over other countries.
The African Group of Negotiators’ (AGN) position is to ensure that such accounting dates back to 1990 levels not beyond that.
Vitumbiko Chinoko, Regional Advocacy Lead, Climate Change and Food Security, Southern Africa Care International reckons that if the accounting goes beyond 1990, the carbon markets will be oversupplied and lower their demand and fail to contribute to the mitigation goal.
“The progress in this article is important to avoid the mistakes of the clean development mechanism under the Kyoto protocol such as breach on human rights, undermining livelihoods such as food production and water or healthy environment. Africa and other developing countries are fighting that the new mechanism on carbon management shall ensure and uphold such important elements such as food security,” he said.
Parties are also failing to agree on how to frame human rights in loss and damage review outcomes.The other issue is the need for improved action and support of loss and damage with finance which would help in addressing most devastating and irreversible impacts such as severe droughts, cyclones such as Cyclone Idai.
However, the US does not want finance in the final loss and damage review outcome. CSOs have therefore asked for a special window in the green climate fund to be dedicated for loss and damage.
Another deadlock is on gender and climate, finance and human rights. Parties have agreed on capacity building but there is no mention of means of implementation. On human rights, some Arab nations are heavily opposing the proposals.
The conference is expected to close on Friday December 13 2019. It is hoped a new Paris Agreement would be signed before close of business on Friday.