The 25th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (COP25), held in Madrid, closed on Sunday, December 15th, after two full weeks of intense negotiations. Despite going 44 hours into overtime, the Parties (197 national governments) were unable to reach consensus on the main topics, meaning they will resume negotiations at the next scheduled session in May 2020. Meanwhile, outside of the technical, jargon-filled world of the negotiating rooms at COP25, frustration grew among youth groups, civil society and NGO observer organizations, with the apparent inability of governments to respond adequately to the climate emergency.
Article 6 & the NYDF
Given the importance of international cooperation in achieving the goals of the NYDF, the focus of this blog post is on the topic of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, which covers the role of cooperative approaches to further reduce emissions or increase removal of greenhouse gasses, including through the use of carbon markets. A COP decision on additional rules and guidance on the implementation of Article 6 was the last major outstanding item from the Paris Agreement ‘rulebook’, agreed last year in Katowice, Poland. There were high expectations for COP25 to finish this rulebook.
A good decision at COP25 on Article 6 would have helped unlock the scale and pace of climate action overall and particularly in the forest and land sector. As the highest rates of deforestation and forest degradation, as well as the potential for forest restoration and conservation, are found in developing countries, international cooperation under Article 6 could contribute significantly to achieving the NYDF goal of halting deforestation globally by 2030.
Many (including myself) argue that the Paris Agreement, with the accompanying Katowice rulebook, provides enough operating principles and guidance for countries to begin implementing and scaling up the actions needed to get us on a path to a <2ºC world. However, the unfinished state of guidance on Article 6 has created some uncertainty that may continue to prevent some governments from making the necessary commitments and taking action. While we wait for the next negotiating session to pick up where Madrid left off, there have been signals indicating that some governments and private sector actors will begin acting sooner than later.
- Chile, who holds the COP Presidency until COP26, launched a “Climate Ambition Alliance” of 73 countries who have signaled their intention to submit an enhanced Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) next year. Following the Nature-Based Solutions for Climate Manifesto also launched at the UN Climate Action Summit 2019, the Climate Ambition Alliance will include a focus on implementing concrete actions to strengthen the protection of forests and oceans.
- Canada and the EU recently joined the growing list of countries to adopt climate-neutrality goals to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. While longer-term, such targets help to raise awareness and provide an incentive to implement nature-based climate solutions sooner than later.
- Switzerland and Costa Rica for AILAC (Independent Association for Latin America and the Caribbean), in their statement at the closing of COP25, expressed their intent to implement Article 6.2 - International Transfer of Mitigation Outcomes (ITMOs) - following the San Jose Principles for Ambition for Article 6 released at COP25.
- A Global Investor Statement to Governments on Climate Change was signed by 631 institutional investors worth more than $37 trillion in assets. The statement acknowledges the ongoing efforts that investors are making to tackle climate change and highlights the importance of policymakers in enabling them to further shift their investment portfolio to align with the Paris Agreement.
- Chile and Spain convened a high-level event on forests at COP25, highlighting opportunities and actions by governments, cities, businesses, youth, and indigenous peoples for enhancing the role of forests in nature-based solutions.
- The UN Secretary-General, in response to the NBS Manifesto, has made nature-based solutions a priority for 2020 and, in several high-level events at COP25, the UN family (UNEP, UNDP, UNCBD, UNFCCC, UNCCCD, UNDESA, the GEF and others), committed to enhanced collaboration and alignment of efforts to support the achievement of the NBS Manifesto.
Outside of the negotiations at COP25, experience in, and prospects for, implementing actions on the ground were highlighted in many side events and discussions. Building on the comprehensive recognition of nature-based solutions at the UN Climate Action Summit in September, there were many events and rallies that raised the profile of forests and nature-based solutions. Even though COP25 failed to achieve the objectives set out by the Chilean and Spanish hosts, progress was made in clarifying the core issues that will require political solutions. And while they do not officially take over the Presidency until UNFCCC COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, the UK team has already begun designing a strategy for success in 2020, including for forests and other nature-based solutions.
About the author
Peter Graham, Managing Director, Policy & Research, Climate Advisers
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