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COP25 climate change conference

05 December 2019
by eub2 -- last modified 05 December 2019

This year's UN Climate Conference brings together governments, businesses, local authorities and civil society in Madrid to express support for the Paris Agreement and for urgent climate action.


1. What will happen at COP25?

This year's UN Climate Conference will build momentum on the path towards next year's COP26 Conference in Glasgow, when all Parties to the Paris Agreement are expected to communicate or update their national climate targets.

The Madrid Conference will also aim to complete negotiations on the last outstanding issues in the 'Katowice rulebook' for implementing the Paris Agreement, notably the rules for international carbon markets (Article 6 of the Paris Agreement). Work will be taken forward in areas including oceans, finance, the transparency of climate action, forests and agriculture, technology, capacity building, loss and damage, indigenous peoples, cities and gender.

The conference, presided by the Government of Chile, will take place from 2-13 December in Madrid, Spain. It is the 25th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), from where it gets its name 'COP25'. It is also the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, serving as the Meeting of the Parties (CMP 15) and the second session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 2).

The Paris Agreement, adopted in December 2015, sets out a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature rise to 1.5°C. It entered into force on 4 November 2016. 195 UNFCCC Parties have signed the Agreement and 187 have now ratified it.

2. What are the EU's expectations for COP25?

At COP25, the EU will deliver a strong political message on the urgent need for enhanced global action in light of the climate emergency and reaffirm its commitment to the multilateral process. The EU will encourage the effective implementation of the Katowice rulebook as soon as possible by all Parties, emphasise the importance of working to enhance global ambition in response to the latest science, and encourage ambitious action by all Parties and stakeholders.

A key topic for the negotiations will be the single element of the Rulebook left outstanding in Katowice: the guidance on voluntary cooperation and market-based mechanisms under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. Securing a meaningful outcome for market measures under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement is important for the European Union. The EU is committed to working with all Parties to agree a robust set of decisions that ensure the integrity of these markets through clear accounting rules. Compromises that put environmental integrity at risk are not acceptable to us. The decisions we take at COP25 must prevent the double-counting of emissions reductions. The decisions should also create strong incentives to reduce emissions now and in the future. This means avoiding the use of past emissions reductions to undermine current and future ambition.

The new mechanism under Article 6.4 should avoid the weaknesses of the Kyoto Protocol Mechanisms.

We must also complete the second review of the Warsaw International Mechanism for loss and damage associated with the impacts of climate change, complete the review of the Lima work programme on gender, and advance technical work on the arrangements under the enhanced transparency framework that enables Parties to track progress towards their commitments under the Paris Agreement.

The EU attaches great importance to stakeholder engagement in COP25, particularly on Oceans. The Chilean Presidency has made this a top priority for this "Blue COP".

3. Why is this a Blue COP? What is the EU doing to protect Oceans?

The protection of our oceans is fundamental to successfully address climate change. The Chilean Presidency designated the COP 25 as "the Blue COP", in order to address the link between ocean and climate change. Chile plans to use this year's UN climate talks to focus attention on the world's most important regulator of our climate – the oceans. The COP25 will specifically discuss the role of our oceans and the opportunities to find climate solutions and opportunities for action. The European Commission is also organising an 'EU Ocean Day' on 7 December during the COP 25.

In November, the EU Member States adopted conclusions on oceans and seas, stressing that climate change is a direct and existential threat to life in the oceans and seas globally. Member States called for increased actionat all levels of government toprotect marine and coastal ecosystems.

At the "Our Ocean Conference" in Oslo in October, the EU announced 22 new ocean commitments, worth EUR 540 million. This includes targeted action to support climate change adaptation in highly sensitive marine regions, like the Pacific Islands and the Coral Triangle, advanced climate monitoring and research, for example in the Arctic and Antarctic, and promoting the transition to a low carbon emissions economy.

In its proposal for the future multiannual budget of the EU (2021-2027), and in line with the Paris Agreement and the commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the Commission set an ambitious goal for climate mainstreaming across all EU programmes, with a target of 25% of all EU expenditure contributing towards climate objectives.

4. What is the EU doing to reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions?

The EU's nationally determined contribution (NDC) to the Paris Agreement is to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 40% by 2030 compared to 1990. This target is set in EU legislation as part of a wider EU climate and energy framework for 2030 and builds on the 2020 target to cut emissions by 20%, which the EU is well on track to exceed. From 1990 to 2018, the EU's total GHG emissions decreased by 23%, while its economy grew by 61%.

The EU is the first major economy in the world to take the lead in the green transition and to show the way on implementation of the Paris Agreement by already having in place an ambitious, binding legislative framework covering all sectors of the economy to deliver on its commitment.

All of the core legislation for 2030 has been adopted, including legislation to modernise the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), and set targets for Member States to reduce their emissions in non-ETS sectors. These include transport, buildings, agriculture and waste, as well as ensuring that emissions from land use and forestry will be balanced out by removals. It also aims to reduce emissions from road transport, increase the use of renewable energy, improve energy efficiency and set up a governance process to ensure progress towards the 2030 climate and energy targets. If fully implemented these measures could lead to an EU GHG emissions reduction of around 45% in 2030.

Looking beyond 2030, in November 2018 the Commission presented its strategic long-term vision for a prosperous, modern, competitive and climate-neutral economy by 2050 – i.e. achieving an economy with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. The vision underlines the opportunities that this transformation offers to European citizens and its economy, as well as identifying and anticipating future challenges.

Discussions on the strategy have been ongoing throughout the year at EU level, national levels and with stakeholders across Europe. A large majority of EU Member States agree on the objective of achieving climate-neutrality by 2050, and several Member States have already set national targets contributing to this goal. The EU aims at adopting and submitting its long-term strategy to the UNFCCC in early 2020. The EU also calls on other Parties to submit their long-term strategies in line with the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement by 2020.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has made climate action a top priority for the European Commission, making a European Green Deal one of the headline ambitions for Europe for the next five years, setting out the need to further raise ambition and accelerate action to enable Europe to become the world's first climate-neutral continent.

5. What is the role of international carbon markets in the implementation of the Paris Agreement?

Article 6 of the Paris Agreement recognises the potential of international carbon markets to lower compliance costs and to spur private sector investment.

The EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), set up in 2005, is the world's first major carbon market and remains the biggest one. It is a cornerstone of the EU's policy to combat climate change and its primary tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions cost-effectively. The EU ETS was recently strengthened to deliver on the EU's 2030 climate and energy targets and contribution to the Paris Agreement. This includes faster emissions cuts, targeted support and several low-carbon funding mechanisms to help industry and the power sector to meet the innovation and investment challenges of the low-carbon transition.

In June 2019, the European Commission hosted a conference on international carbon markets, bringing together high-level representatives and carbon markets specialists to help inform the discussions in the run-up to COP25, while also considering more broadly how market instruments can help deliver both environmental integrity and climate ambition.

6. How does the Paris Agreement address adaptation and loss and damage associated with the impacts of climate change?

The Paris Agreement establishes a global goal on adaptation to climate change, namely to enhance adaptive capacity, strengthen resilience and reduce vulnerability to climate change. The global stocktake, which will take place every five years starting from 2023, will review the overall progress towards this goal.

Adaptation is a key element of EU policy and planning. National, regional and local adaptation strategies are gaining ground since the adoption of the EU Adaptation Strategy in 2013. Today, 25 Member States have a strategy or plan and over 1,500 cities and municipalities have committed to developing one, in the framework of the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy. The evaluation of the EU strategy, published in November 2018, shows that adaptation is now more urgent than forecast in 2013 and outlines further actions needed.

The EU is also highly committed to supporting partner countries to take climate action, including adaptation efforts. The share of EU climate finance targeted at adaptation is increasing, with particular focus on the most vulnerable countries. In 2018, roughly 50% of climate finance from the EU budget (excluding Member State funds) was dedicated to adaptation projects.

The Paris Agreement also recognises the importance of averting, minimising and addressing loss and damage associated with climate change, including extreme weather events, such as floods, landslides, storms and forest fires, and slow onset events such as the loss of fresh water aquifers and glaciers.

These concerns were addressed when the Paris Agreement was adopted by giving the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage, created in 2013, the role of promoting cooperation on these issues. At COP25, Parties aim to complete the second review of the Warsaw International Mechanism to further guide its work.

7. How are gender aspects addressed?

At COP25, Parties aim to complete the review of the Lima work programme on gender launched in 2014 and its Gender Action Plan, which seeks to advance women's full, equal and meaningful participation and promote gender-responsive climate policy and the mainstreaming of a gender perspective in climate action. It also aims to ensure that support is available at country level for gender-responsive climate policies, strategies and plans.

The EU has had a longstanding commitment to promoting a gender perspective in climate policies both domestically and internationally. As part of its international cooperation, the EU helps implement targeted measures in partner countries, while mainstreaming gender equality and climate change perspectives into all aspects of EU development policy. Gender equality and empowerment of women and girls is recognised as a cross-cutting driver for sustainable development in the European Consensus on Development and the EU Gender Action Plan 2016-2020.

The EU supports concrete projects empowering women and addressing gender issues in the context of climate change and climate-induced migration for example under its Global Climate Change Alliance Plus (GCCA+). Other examples include initiatives such as EverGreening Africa with Trees, the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Action Plan, the Switch to Green initiative, and the Women and Sustainable Energy initiative to foster women's active role in sustainable energy in developing countries, specifically through promoting women's entrepreneurship, training and economic empowerment in the sustainable energy sector.

8. How does the Paris Agreement ensure countries deliver on their commitments?

The enhanced transparency framework set up under the Paris Agreement aims to build mutual trust and confidence and to promote effective implementation of the Paris commitments. It will track the progress made individually by Parties in the implementation of their nationally determined contributions, as well as provide data to support the global stocktakes and assess progress towards the long-term goals.

Solid multilateral transparency and accountability guidelines can also help countries design good policies at home, by providing an incentive to build and maintain domestic institutions, data collection and tracking systems that policymakers need to make the right decisions.

The transparency, accountability and compliance system under the Paris Agreement is not punitive, but it is meant to identify when Parties are off track and help them to get back on track if they are not delivering. The system is underpinned by comprehensive requirements and procedures applicable to all Parties to track and facilitate their performance. These include technical expert reviews, a multilateral peer review process, and a standing committee on implementation and compliance.

9. What does the Paris Agreement mean for the EU's contribution to climate finance for developing countries?

At the UN climate conference in Copenhagen in 2009, developed countries collectively committed to jointly mobilise USD 100 billion of public and private climate finance per year by 2020. In Paris in 2015, this goal was extended until 2025. The funding will come from a wide variety of sources – public and private, bilateral and multilateral, and alternative sources of finance – in the context of meaningful mitigation action and transparent implementation by developing countries.

The EU, its Member States and the European Investment Bank are together the biggest contributor of public climate finance to developing countries, giving €21.7 billion in 2018 alone. They are also the world's top provider of official development assistance (a total €74.4 billion in 2018), with climate action being increasingly integrated into the assistance.

Overall, significant financial resources are needed to implement the Paris Agreement. Under the agreement, countries have committed to making finance flows consistent with a low-emission, climate-resilient pathway, to help achieve the long-term climate goals.

In this context, the EU has launched an ambitious Action Plan on Financing Sustainable Growth. The EU also supports developing countries in improving their conditions for mobilising low-carbon finance. In October 2019, the EU together with relevant authorities from Argentina, Canada, Chile, China, India, Kenya and Morocco, launched the International platform on sustainable finance to scale up the mobilisation of private capital towards environmentally sustainable investments.

10. What is the role for non-state actors in climate action?

The Paris Agreement recognises the crucial role of businesses, local governments, cities and other organisations in the transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient world.

The Global Climate Action Agenda (GCAA) – also known as the Marrakesh Partnership on Global Climate Action – was launched in 2016 to catalyse action on climate change by all players, further increase ambition before 2020 and support the Paris Agreement.

The EU and its Member States have been proactive in promoting and sponsoring specific initiatives under the Global Climate Action Agenda, such as the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy and Mission Innovation.

The high-level events on global climate action and the thematic days at COP25 will be excellent opportunities to reflect on progress made under existing initiatives, as well as for announcements on new initiatives.

EU at COP25 – information on EU participation in COP25, side events in the EU Pavilion and press briefings held by the EU delegation

Paris Agreement

Source: European Commission