Several days after the close of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Madrid, Spain, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Patricia Espinosa, attempts “an honest and realistic assessment” of what happened at the two-week global summit. According to her, this is necessary so that appropriate measures can be taken by the international community in guiding the next crucial steps in the multilateral climate process next year
We need to be clear that the conference did not result in agreement on the guidelines for a much-needed carbon market – an essential part of the toolkit to raise ambition that can harness the potential of the private sector and generate finance for adaptation. Developed countries have yet to fully address the calls from developing countries for enhanced support in finance, technology and capacity building, without which they cannot green their economies and build adequate resilience to climate change.
High-emitting countries did not send a clear enough signal that they are ready to improve their climate strategies and ramp up ambition through the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) they will submit next year.
At the same time, in the final decision texts, governments did express the need for more ambition by Parties and non-State actors alike, and they agreed to improve the ability of the most vulnerable to adapt to climate change. Many decisions that emerged from the conference in Madrid at least acknowledge the role of climate finance, essential for concrete action. And decisions were taken in areas including technology, oceans and agriculture, gender and capacity building.
A large group of countries, regions, cities, businesses and investors signaled their intention to achieve net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050, as part of the Climate Ambition Alliance led by Chile. Also rallying under the Climate Ambition Alliance, 114 nations have meanwhile signaled their intention to submit an enhanced climate action plan next year. The caveat here is that not enough major economies have signaled that they are ready to shift the needle on climate ambition through improved plans.
Commitments from many sectors of society showed an overwhelming agreement on the only way forward: that we need to follow what science is telling us, with the sense of urgency and seriousness that this requires. What we need now is to focus our undivided attention on the next steps to further strengthen the trust in the multilateral process. As we head towards the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow, we must be united and work in a true spirit of inclusive multilateralism in order to realise the promises of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
I thank the governments of Chile and Spain for their enormous efforts to organise COP25, and I thank all observer organisations, including the private sector, youth and scientists, for reminding us every day of the need to raise ambition. I look forward to working with the governments of Chile, the UK and Italy to achieve the best possible results at COP26 in Glasgow. Together, with all sectors of the economy and societies at large, we must work tirelessly to address the greatest challenge of our generation.