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Markets, Loss and long nights at COp25 Midpoint

After one week of long nights, negotiators in Madrid are looking to the next week with hopes that political deadlocks on finance and carbon markets will not capsize global momentum.

Only a day after one of the largest climate protests ever, many negotiators spent a stressful Saturday pushing hard on a range of issues due to finish after Week 1. Without clear signs of increases in finance and action from developed parties, frustrations leaked from one topic to another. Talks on Carbon markets, response measures, loss and damage and even Gender talks began to suffer clear signs of funding frustration.

With ministers arriving next week, these issues may be unlocked with some selective funding decisions. However, in light of the potential risks of rushed political trade-offs Climate Action Network, signalled their pessimism in their last press conference of the week, stating that; “we hope they can take the time to get it right here, but if they need to take the time to discuss this in Glasgow, that’s ok”.

Here a summary of what has been the progress in the first week:

Negotiators are battling core issues late into the night.
Photos by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth

Carbon Markets (Article 6)

The hottest topic at the climate talks this week might as well have skipped week one. After 2 different iterations of the decision text, negotiations were postponed until Monday, with rumours that the current text might be reformulated by then. 

The last version of the text on Carbon markets came out on Friday night, after being promised by the morning. There were some minor progressions, but the big political decisions on whether or not to carryover Kyoto credits (Australia issue), the CDM (India and Brazil), whether or not adaptation will be included in bilateral trading (most developing countries), the overall emissions cap or the need to cancel emissions cuts after you sell them (Brazil issue) all remain bracketed for now. The only key observer issue not bracketed; Human rights safeguards. It’s not there. 

Common Timeframes

Clarity on common time frames are directly linked to the ability to update and account for progress in the NDCs. It’s always been tough, and many fear 10 year update periods ignores the immediacy of climate change. 

This week, the text expanded and experimented with more than 10 different time frame options, usually differentiating developed and developing countries.

The latest drafting process made no clear resolution, and will need ministers to step in or they risk pushing it to the next intersessional negotiations. Latest discussions included both old proposals, such as 5 year and 10 year targets, and new proposals, such as:

  1. A 5 year timeframe for developed countries and 5 or 10 years for developing
  2. Different timeframes for different climate action. But at least they’d be common.

Loss and Damage

This year at COP25 countries have to revise the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage and define its work moving forward. This has been seen by many developing countries as an opportunity to include much-needed finance.

As of Saturday night the discussion had not been closed and countries asked for extra time into the second week. The main discussion points include the creation of an “implementation arm” that would collaborate with the financial entities of the UNFCCC to cover loss and damage related issues. The discussion will continue into next week.

Response Measures

Similar to the Gender Action Plan, it looked like an easy win earlier in the week. But discussions were pushed to late on Saturday as details of what activities could and should be included going forward in the expected 5 year work plan. 

Discussion on assessing and implementing a Just transition, assessing vulnerable communities as well as processes for best practice sharing on decarbonisation processes have been very divisive, and my thoughts are that similar to Loss and Damage, the lack of progress on finance is now leaking into other rooms, as countries push for funding or ‘support’ specifically in their priority areas. 

Gender

Talking to many about the outcome of COP25, The Gender action plan was meant to be one of the important outcomes of Madrid/Santiago’s package. Along with Loss and Damage and Response Measures, negotiators are discussing how they transfer what has been a 2 year work plan into a 5 year one. This transition naturally makes negotiators who care about gender mainstreaming excited and ambitious in their asks for ‘support’. 

There are some ongoing arguments around whether gender practices can be nationally defined or universal, but one of the key sticking points has also been around what activities are going to be included going forward, and how they will be ‘supported’. 

OECD countries are sitting on their pre-existing commitment 80% of their ODA to gender-sensitive initiatives, and not keen on funding anything additional going forward. This is understandably frustrating to countries discussing issues that frankly, many have never done before.

One such issue yesterday revolved around gender budgeting for climate action, an issue which almost all developed countries admitted, they had no experience, but pushed back on calls for finance, and ironically, said that “knowledge sharing” would suffice. 

Photos by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth

Science

Under the Research and Systematic Observation chapter of the SBSTA, countries have been discussing how to consider the latest science of the IPCC: the land and oceans reports released this year.

After a lot of contentious discussions countries agreed to “note” the release of both reports and to express its “appreciation and gratitude” to the IPCC and the scientific community for preparing them. Furthermore, the countries agreed to “note with concern” the state of the global climate system.