Climate Change

Climate Emergency CoP 25: Murmurs of Madrid being a failure grow stronger

Negotiations to continue into the wee hours of December 15, as parties are yet to arrive at consensus on most issues

By Akshit Sangomla
Published: Sunday 15 December 2019
Photo: Twitter
Photo: Twitter Photo: Twitter

The final stretch of negotiations are still ongoing at the 25th Conference of Parties (CoP 25) in Madrid.

CoP President, Carolina Schmidt, brought in new texts regarding the decision documents of the CoP 25, the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol 15 (CMP15), the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement 2 (CMA2), and other outstanding issues like Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, Review of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage, response measures and long-term review on its agenda late on the evening of December 14.

The new texts will be discussed and re-negotiated by countries after which the closing plenary sessions of the CoP, CMP and CMA will take place. It looks highly unlikely as another informal stocktaking plenary has been planned by the CoP presidency at 11 pm local time, even though the closing plenary had been announced at 10 pm local time earlier.

This means that the negotiations may continue into the early hours of December 15 and murmurs of the Madrid CoP being a failure or being suspended are growing stronger.

The new texts were necessitated by a series of issues that were highlighted by countries at the stocktaking plenary session convened by Schmidt earlier on December 14 regarding the texts that were introduced in the morning of the same day.

The most prominent among these issues was the absence of reference to the updation of the nationally determined contributions (NDCs) in 2020 as mandated under the Paris Agreement in the draft of the CoP 25 document.

Belize, representing the Alliance of Small Island Nations (AOSIS), said that their group was unhappy. “This CoP was one of ambition but we are not seeing the ambition. All the references to science have become weaker in the text. All references to enhancing NDCs have gone,” the representative from Belize said. “We are currently looking backward rather than forward”, he added.

There was considerable applause at this statement. Colombia, speaking on the behalf of the Independent Association of Latin America and the Caribbean (AILAC) said that the updation of NDCs was the lowest possible denominator at the CoP this year. Malaysia and Egypt also supported the stand taken by Belize and Colombia. Grenada went as far to say that “if references to ambition be removed from the CoP 25 decision then we would have failed”.

Mexico, on the other hand, noted with concern that there was no reference in the CoP document to one of the most applauded accomplishments of CoP 25 so far — the new 5-year gender action plan which takes into account the challenges faced by women and indigenous people.

It also raised the point on NDCs. This, in fact, might be the only reference to human rights in the document, which has been a demand made civil society groups all through CoP 25.

Another contentious issue was introduced by Brazil during the session. Its representative said that they were not comfortable with including the proposal for a work stream on land issues informed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) special report on climate change and land released earlier this year, in the CoP document.

He argued that they were in the middle of the Koronivia process for agriculture and had the Warsaw International Mechanism for REDD. They did not want to pursue this discussion at the moment while being okay with the discussion on oceans. He added that this was a no-go for them.

To this, came two strong interjections, first by Saudi Arabia followed by Russia stating that IPCC’s report on land was as important as the one on oceans and that all references to the report should be kept in the CoP document. Both countries reiterated that the specific issues of one party (referring to Brazil) cannot hold the entire multilateral process.

China and India stuck to their long-held stand on the gaps in the pre-2020 commitments by countries under the Kyoto Protocol. India’s lead negotiator, Ravi Shankar Prasad, urged the CoP presidency to make sure that all parties are taken on board regarding Article 6 and that there is no tampering with the language of the Paris Agreement.

The reference to the pre-2020 stocktake in the CMA document was opposed by the United States (US) saying that they “did not need this language.” Later in the session, Tuvalu interjected by saying that the CMA text should be decided upon by parties who are going to remain in the Paris Agreement. The US is set to leave the Paris Agreement in November 2020. The US also had an issue with the global goals on adaptation which it wanted removed from the text.

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