Millennium Post

Discussing climate

Key issues remain unresolved even as the CoP 25 in Madrid reached its last day

"People want an ambitious outcome from the 25th Conference of Parties (CoP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)", Chilean environment minister Carolina Schmidt said in Madrid on December 12, 2019. Chile is the president of CoP 25.

Schmidt was addressing a Plenary session on the stocktake of the proceedings till now. She urged leaders in the room to deliver by the end of the CoP on December 13.

The CoP 25 Presidency set up various working groups headed by pairs of countries to engage with parties so that a consensus could be reached on the most pressing issues.

New Zealand and South Africa are leading the discussions on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, dealing with carbon market mechanisms. It has been a sticking point at CoP 25 and in fact, has carried over from CoP 24 in Katowice, Poland last year.

The representative from New Zealand said that they heard the views on three difficult issues regarding Article 6 and there was a high level of consensus on principles and the commitment of the parties to the UNFCCC, Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement.

The parties also agreed to find an acceptable outcome and expressed concern for parties with different views. They also agreed to find resourcing for adaptation. Further discussions on these issues will be held by the afternoon of December 13, including bilateral meetings with different parties.

Even with this, the CoP 25 Presidency reported that there was no consensus on the transition of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) as well as Rules, Modalities and Procedures (RMP) under Article 6.4 of the Paris Agreement which establishes a global carbon market mechanism known as the Sustainable Development Mechanism (SDM).

The draft decision was taken up the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP) plenary later on December 12.

On the issue of the Warsaw International Mechanism dealing with financing for Loss and Damage due to climate change impacts, Grenada reported that discussions regarding two key questions about the tasks for expert group of Workstream E and functions and modalities, like mobilisation of existing resources of the Santiago Network had been taken up and discussions were to go on till the afternoon of December 12.

"The focus is on the text and not on conceptual understanding," the representative from Grenada said. "On the matters of the governance of the Santiago Network, the various ministers are being consulted on finding a political resolution in Madrid," he added.

On the progress of the decision documents from CoP 25, Spain and Singapore said there were some key points in the document that parties wanted to preserve. These included pre-2020 ambition and implementation; the Nationally Determined Contributions in 2020; and Land, Ocean and Loss and Damage. This working group closed its discussions by the evening of December 12.

On the issue of the periodic review of the long term goal, the CoP Presidency noted that while they were "close to an agreement", the parties wanted to wait until other issues were resolved. Schmidt also urged all parties to engage in solutions-oriented discussion.

From the floor, Australia pointed out that too many issues were still unresolved. Interestingly, in many negotiating rooms, like the one on gender and climate change, Australia has been stressing on semantics, rather than principles. It also signalled its disappointment at no consensus being reached on the issue of "transparency".

Grenada expressed concern on the overall outcome of the CoP and stated that many countries were still ignoring the fact that there was a climate emergency. The European Union expressed its willingness for an outcome on both, Article 6 and Loss and Damage.

Egypt raised a number of flags on the proceedings at the CoP. Representing the African group, it said that most of the elements under discussion were priorities for African countries but that it was difficult to implement what had been agreed upon.

On Loss and Damage, which is crucial for many countries in Africa as they face the wrath of cyclones, extreme rainfall and droughts, Egypt said it was "concerned about the use of governments to discuss the Paris Agreement" and that "issues are being taken hostage because some are pushing forward views."

Bhutan urged countries "to respond to voices of most vulnerable around the world" and pointed out that "there was a disconnect inside the conference from what's happened outside", referring to the continuous protests by youth, women's and indigenous people's groups.

Using strong language, Indian representative Ravi Shankar Prasad also raised a slew of points at the event regarding climate financing, technology transition and other issues. He said that "ambition differs from implementation" and that he had "unfortunately heard a lot of words from ambition but not zeal as far as implementation is concerned." He added that "historical gaps and shortfalls have got us to this situation" and that "if we don't take that seriously, we will repeat history."

Views expressed are strictly personal

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