After a last-minute change of venue from Santiago to Madrid, the 2019 Chile/Madrid Climate Change Conference opened with expectations that delegates would finish negotiations on a few key issues, principally the guidance for Article 6 (market and non-market mechanisms). Other key issues included the review of Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change Impacts (WIM) and finance. But this was not the case. The disconnects between the demands of people and science, and what the process could deliver, and between countries that want to look to the future, and those focused on the past, ultimately undermined the ability for the Chile/Madrid Climate Change Conference to deliver, despite running nearly 40 hours overtime.
More than 26,700 people attended COP 25, including over 13,600 government delegates, nearly 10,000 observers, and over 3,000 members of the media.
The Chile/Madrid Climate Change conference included the:
UPDATE: Sunday, 15 December, 1:55 pm: - COP 25 President Schmidt gavels the COP, CMP, and CMA to a close.
UPDATE: Sunday, 15 December, 10:17 am - The COP opened. After some debate, the COP adopted the "Chile-Madrid Time for Action" decision.
UPDATE: Sunday, 15 December, 5:00 am - Closing plenary scheduled for 8:00 am. Delegates unsure of what the process moving forward will be.
UPDATE: Sunday, 15 December, 12:30 am - The informal stocktaking plenary closes, with COP 25 President Carolina Schmidt outlining the outstanding, unresolved issues on WIM, Article 6, response measures, and others. She tells delegates "let's get to work."
UPDATE: Saturday, 14 December, 11:00 pm - Informal Presidency stocktaking scheduled to convene. Delegates still engaged in closed-door negotiations on Article 6, loss and damage, response measures, and other issues.
With the Chile/Madrid Climate Change Conference ticking over from what was meant to be its final day into overtime, delegates speculated about how close parties actually were to any meaningful agreement.
A morning plenary stocktake by the Presidency confirmed several areas where views diverged in the final decisions, yet to be adopted. In the Paris Agreement governing body (CMA) outcome decision, Australia opposed calls from the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to ensure that units or emissions reductions under the Kyoto Protocol could not be used towards countries’ nationally determined contributions (NDCs). There was also disagreement on whether the Conference of the Parties (COP) outcome decision should mention the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Climate Change and Land, or mandate related work under the subsidiary bodies. In the same decision, several groups called for a clear call for enhancing ambition in NDCs in 2020, while other delegations supported a work programme on pre-2020 implementation and action.
In the afternoon, bilateral Presidency-led consultations continued alongside closed informal consultations on finance, loss and damage, and Article 6 (market and non-market approaches).
The resulting mood in the conference centre alternated between frustration and resignation. In a press conference, NGO representatives denounced the latest presidency texts. Civil society held an impromptu “People’s Closing Plenary” in the space between both official plenary halls, calling out the “COP that has failed us.”
With the closing plenary delayed later and later into the night, press and observers alike were reduced to idly checking social media for any updates. For all the Presidency’s optimism that a plenary might be struck before midnight, some delegates meetings suggested otherwise. “It’s going to be a long night,” one said, rushing between rooms.
The Earth Negotiations Bulletin will produce a summary and analysis from COP 25. Please return to this site on Wednesday, 18 December for the full report.
IISD Reporting Services, through its Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) meeting coverage, provided daily web coverage, daily reports, and a summary and analysis report from the 2019 Climate Change Conference. The summary and analysis report is now available in HTML and PDF.
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As the Chile/Madrid Climate Change Conference entered its scheduled last day, many expected the meeting to extend into Saturday.
COP 25 President Carolina Schmidt confirmed such expectations in the stocktaking plenary when she asked the Co-Facilitators of various items to keep working, without providing a clear timeline for conclusion. Calling on all parties to “show the world that we are capable of reaching agreement,” she outlined the new model of work going forward. Negotiations would proceed in two tracks. The first track focuses on Article 6 (market and non-market mechanism). The second track includes three issues: the review of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change Impacts; response measures; and the outcome decision (decision 1/CP.25).
As the day wore on, negotiations continued among parties only, facilitated by ministers. Several delegates expressed concern both at the number of unresolved issues, and the many divergent positions on each issue. Some whispers suggested the conference “might fail altogether,” considering that no agreement is in sight. Others were more optimistic, but wondered how agreement would emerge with the overtime clock running. After hours of waiting, with the live schedule advertising facilitated ministerial consultations through midnight, many delegates left the venue to catch a few hours of sleep.
Outside the venue, with flags and banners held aloft, Extinction Rebellion labelled the meeting “another lost opportunity.”
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The pace of the Chile/Madrid Climate Change slowed for many delegates on its penultimate day. Parties-only consultations continued on several issues, putting considerable work on some high-ranking delegates’ shoulders while others were left on the sidelines.
In the morning, a stocktaking session gave all delegates an opportunity to catch up on closed-door discussions. Ministers provided updates, with varying level of detail, on the negotiations on:
For issues under the purview of the COP Presidency, namely the periodic review of the long-term global goal, gender, and the Consultative Group of Experts (CGE), the COP President was clear that these should be agreed to by the evening. She encouraged parties to have finance-related issues ready by Thursday evening so that they could be agreed upon the next day.
When plenary convened in the evening, some issues had been finalized. The COP adopted decisions, including on the terms of reference for the CGE. Decisions forwarded from the subsidiary bodies on Monday, 9 December were adopted, as were procedural decisions.
Leaving the venue, tired delegates grasped at the chance of a few hours’ sleep, despite not knowing when a plenary session might reappear on Friday’s schedule.
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A series of high-level events comprised the public-facing side of the Chile/Madrid Climate Change Conference on Wednesday. Behind closed doors, ministers and negotiators discussed Article 6 (market and non-market mechanisms), loss and damage, gender, and the periodic review of the long-term global goal.
A High-level Event on Climate Emergency started the day, moderated by High-level Climate Champion Gonzalo Muñoz. Panelists included scientist Johan Rockström, Minister Teresa Ribera, Spain, and civil society leaders Jennifer Morgan and Greta Thunberg. Together, they highlighted urgent messages from climate science and called for “true leadership” and “urgent transformations.”
Activist Greta Thunberg placed her hope in democracy: “It is the public opinion that runs the free world. Every great change throughout history has come from the people. We do not have to wait. We can start the change right now—we, the people,” she said.
Looking back, ministers discussed the state of mitigation action and support that took place before 2020. While some noted that “the pre-2020 period ends in 20 days,” others placed utmost importance on the event to build trust among parties as they start to implement the Paris Agreement in 2020.
Those at the Global Climate Action High-Level event heard about private sector sustainability initiatives such as in the financial sector, and reflected on how these can achieve scale and lead to transformative change. Liaising with the International Space Station (ISS) in a live video chat, UN Secretary-General António Guterres exchanged with Luca Parmitano, astronaut from the European Space Agency and current ISS Commander, on how a shared dream can foster collaboration between nations. Parmitano emphasized the need to “do justice to our planet’s beauty and fragility,” noting the role of science in developing innovative solutions.
With protests disrupting the proceedings, and calls from a wide range of voices—from indigenous peoples and youth to Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland—for people to "get angry and to act," the divide between optimism and outrage was palpable.
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On Tuesday, the Chile/Madrid Climate Change Conference transitioned into a more political mode. Ministers arrived with considerable work ahead of them, aiming to reconcile difficult issues and to raise the profile - and ambition - of the conference. After the subsidiary bodies’ late close in the early morning hours of Tuesday, several issues were left for consultations to be co-facilitated by ministers:
The COP Presidency will facilitate discussions on the periodic review of the long-term global goal, the Consultative Group of Experts (CGE), and gender.
Ministers around the venue were busy sharing statements in the high-level segment and at a ministerial dialogue on adaptation ambition. Opening the high-level segment, COP 25 President Carolina Schmidt set the tone for holistic discussions on climate action, stressing how climate change exacerbates existing inequalities and that climate action needs to be fair for all. Thanking youth activists, Minister Teresa Ribera Rodríguez, Spain, called on all “to be climate activists, and to do more.”
In the afternoon, the COP Presidency convened a high-level ministerial dialogue on adaptation ambition. One minister noted that “no country is safe” from the impacts of climate change, and all must therefore redouble adaptation efforts. Ministers from Japan, Botswana, Fiji, Uruguay, and the Netherlands, among others, presented on their countries’ efforts to build adaptation ambition, discussing: the use of nature-based solutions; climate finance for developing countries; and lessons learned.
The Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action held events throughout the day. Roundtables convened on circular economy principles in the construction and packaging sectors. Participants also discussed resilience and SDG 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy).
With many discussions now occurring at higher political levels, and behind closed doors, many delegates welcomed the break after an intensive first week. They also wondered how the many divides across the issues would be bridged.
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The Chile/Madrid Climate Change Conference transitioned into its second week of work. There were last-minute consultations on some issues under the subsidiary bodies as delegates tried to bridge remaining divisions.
By the end of the night, several issues were left unagreed. Unresolved issues were handled in a variety of ways. Some issues were deferred for discussions at the next session. Others were forwarded to the COP Presidency for consideration during this conference.
Consultations also continued on a number of other items, including on finance and, at the head of delegation level, on the meeting outcome decision (1/COP.25 1/CMP.15 and 1/CMA.2). Heads of delegation also met to agree on the mode of work for the rest of the conference.
The Chilean COP Presidency, with ministers of finance, sought to amplify the Santiago Action Plan. Originally launched in April 2019, at the World Bank Group-International Monetary Fund (IMF) meeting, the Plan aims to catalyze high-level support for mainstreaming climate action in economic policy. Finance ministers discussed their role in enhancing countries’ nationally determined contributions (NDCs). The importance of finance ministers to climate action was clear: as UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa underlined: “if you lead, others will follow.”
The Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action connected the dots between climate action and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Participants discussed how collaboration between state and non-state actors can help realize climate action, and also SDGs 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), 14 (Life under Water), and 15 (Life on Land).
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The Chile/Madrid Climate Change Conference concluded its first week in a flurry of discussions over the various issues due for completion before the subsidiary bodies close on Monday.
Success was mixed. The subsidiary bodies will have “clean,” or agreed, decisions to consider for national adaptation plans and the Poznan strategic programme on technology transfer. After protracted negotiations, delegates agreed to a decision on research and systematic observation, which addresses global cooperation on climate monitoring and data. Negotiations continued well into the night on loss and damage, another technology item, transparency, and the review of the long-term global goal.
Delegates were unable to find agreement on several issues, including common time frames and agriculture. In many cases, parties hoped that discussions among heads of delegation could resolve the issues by bringing together the few parties that remain in disagreement. The imminent arrival of ministers adds some pressure, as negotiators expressed a reluctance to bring all these unagreed texts to the political level.
Delegates working on Article 6 (market and non-market mechanisms) waited throughout the day for the next iteration of the texts. Discussions on these were scheduled to start late in the evening, but were eventually postponed until Monday, 9 December. Many expect this issue to go to ministers. Uncertainty remains about what elements could be decided on at COP 25, and which ones would require additional time to create more detailed guidance on certain methodologies.
The COP Presidency held an open dialogue between parties and observer organizations. COP 25 President Carolina Schmidt emphasized the need to bring together all actors to catalyze more ambitious commitments and action. Observers used the opportunity to discuss the broader picture, and multiple crises the world faces. Trade Union NGOs warned of “social tipping points” that, when crossed, undermine peoples’ support for climate policy. Environmental NGOs pointed out the looming environmental tipping points. Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations called for real, not “token,” engagement with traditional knowledge in the search for solutions. Also seeking wider inclusion, Youth NGOs called for making science available to all and supporting the participation of observers from developing countries.
In the context of three workshops on energy, transport, and human settlements, the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action also underscored the important role of science. Several of the speakers discussed how to foster credible, science-based solutions that are effective and profitable. The intersection of those interests, particularly in the energy sector, were stressed as key to unlocking climate ambition by all.
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The Chile/Madrid Climate Change Conference continued with a palpable sense of increased pressure and, perhaps, frustration. With only one further negotiation day left for the subsidiary bodies to finish their technical work before concluding on Monday, delegates worked overtime on a wide range of issues.
In many rooms, discussions moved into “informal informals” intended for parties to have frank discussions and hopefully work through disagreements. These included agriculture, Article 6 (market and non-market mechanisms), gender, and the Adaptation Fund, among several others. Negotiators asked for more time on other issues, notably loss and damage and the review of the long-term global goal. Many expect Article 6 negotiations to run into the second week in order to allow ministers to make key political decisions that can guide the technical deliberations.
A unique meeting was held to discuss the global goal on adaptation in response to calls from the African Group to put the global goal on the agenda. Many developing countries stressed the importance of adaptation and held firm that the global goal on adaptation was equally important to the global temperature goals. Developed countries noted the ongoing work on adaptation elsewhere on the agenda, and the potential of that work to make progress toward the global goal.
The COP Presidency drew attention to the temperature goal, holding an informal meeting with ministers to discuss the ambition of nationally determined contributions (NDCs). Chile highlighted the Climate Ambition Alliance, a group of 70 countries, with businesses and cities, committing to work toward net zero emissions. The UK announced they would submit an enhanced NDC early next year, and the EU spoke about its Green Deal. Several developing countries spoke to their efforts to raise ambition, but also their need for support and imperative to adapt to the disproportionate effects they are experiencing.
The Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action held four events, on water, industry, oceans and coastal zones, and land use. Throughout the events, speakers shared insights and provoked ideas on how partnerships among countries and other actors - businesses, cities, and other organizations - can help achieve a below 1.5°C world. Many stressed that “science is not negotiable” and should inform all climate action.
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As the Chile/Madrid Climate Change Conference continued, several of the key issues received increased attention. Discussions on loss and damage continued throughout much of the day, with progress emerging, but some deep divisions among parties, particularly on finance, remaining. Delegates addressing loss and damage, and those discussing Article 6 (market and non-market mechanisms) worked into the night.
Transparency issues were discussed in several contexts, all aimed at transitioning toward the Paris Agreement’s national reporting system. Countries discussed how to revise the terms of reference for the Consultative Group of Experts, a body that supports developing countries in their national reporting, in light of the Paris Agreement’s reporting obligations. Other negotiations focused on the tables and forms that countries will use to prepare their national reports in the future system.
While negotiations focused on transitioning toward the Paris Agreement’s institutional machinery, other events were highlighting a range of issues key to climate action. A special event on unpacking the new scientific knowledge and key findings in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate showcased findings related to, among others, hazards in high mountain regions that affect water availability and quality, recreational activities, and tourism. In the Arctic, the Special Report outlines the regions at risk from permafrost thaw by 2050, leading some communities to plan their relocation.
The COP Presidency held a ministerial event on forests with the aim of encouraging countries to leverage forests to reduce emissions and build resilience through their nationally determined contributions (NDCs). Ministers from a range of countries, many from Latin America, and other global organizations spoke to forests’ role in climate action, and to supporting local communities and forest owners. Chile announced it would double its reforestation target in its forthcoming NDC and Pakistan and Armenia pledged to plant 10 billion and 10 million trees, respectively.
The Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action discussed agri-food chains in a roundtable with businesses, farmers, and international organizations, among others. High-Level Champion for the Partnership, Gonzalo Muñoz outlined the challenge: to realize a hunger-free, prosperous, and climate-safe world by 2020. Closing the roundtable, UNFCCC Senior Director Martin Frick underscored the need to support farmers and farming, particularly family and small-scale farmers.
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On Wednesday, delegates at the Chile/Madrid Climate Change Conference looked up from their technical negotiations to take stock of climate action.
The technical part of the stocktake on the implementation and ambition of climate action before 2020 launched in the afternoon. Parties reviewed the work of the UNFCCC related to mitigation efforts, and supporting enhancing implementation and ambition. Many found the event sobering, with civil society denouncing a “lost decade” of mitigation and climate financing efforts, and some parties noting that the needs of developing countries remain unmet.
Appropriately timed, several events drew attention to the role of science. The Chilean Presidency hosted science ministers (and their equivalents) from around the world in a virtual meeting to discuss how they can contribute to the development of countries’ climate pledges. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) held an event to better understand the IPCC’s Special Report on Climate Change and Land. Opening the event, the UNFCCC Executive Secretary underscored that “the facts are telling us that we are impacting the support systems keeping us alive.”
The Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action also reviewed climate action in the first of its series of events. The 2019 Yearbook of Global Climate Action reflects the state of action taken by non-party stakeholders – businesses, cities and regions, and civil society. The report shows that these actors, often in collaboration with countries, are increasingly delivering on initiatives that can help close the emissions gap. But, challenges remain to scale up the potential of non-state climate action.
Technical negotiations continued, particularly for finance, loss and damage, and Article 6 (market and non-market mechanisms). Article 6 negotiators reviewed new texts in the morning, which some thought looked “promising.” The afternoon negotiations seemingly supported this optimism, as delegates worked constructively to move “forward ever, backward never.”
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The Chile/Madrid Climate Change Conference continued on Tuesday. Delegates began detailed negotiations on a wide range of issues, from finance to transparency, adaptation to markets, and gender to response measures. Meanwhile, the COP Presidency began highlighting important themes for this “Blue COP.”
Article 6 negotiations for market and non-market approaches featured prominently. Heads of delegation met in the morning to discuss expectations and a process for concluding these negotiations at this session. In the afternoon, detailed negotiations began, in a room filled beyond capacity, with parties focusing first on the non-market approaches and then turning to the market-related mechanisms. The Co-Facilitators will produce new versions of the draft texts by Wednesday, 4 December, to help parties advance their work.
Several potentially thorny finance issues were raised, including taking stock of progress toward the goal of USD 100 billion per year by 2020, and steps toward setting a new quantified goal from 2025. Discussions on the membership of the Adaptation Fund Board proved difficult, with little common ground found in the initial negotiating session. During this meeting, there is much work remaining for finance issues, including providing guidance to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and Global Environment Facility (GEF).
The Chilean Presidency brought attention to key cross-cutting issues. In an informal dialogue on the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform (LCIPP), several speakers highlighted the role of traditional knowledge and the need to include a range of perspectives in supporting climate action throughout the work of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The Presidency also launched the Platform for Science-Based Ocean Solutions. As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC) highlighted, the ocean is already experiencing significant effects that will be increasingly dangerous without urgent action. The Platform will help create a community of practice to share lessons, encourage concrete policies, and facilitate access to resources and solutions for the ocean.
Practical advice emerged from the workshop on the Koronivia joint work on agriculture on ways to improve nutrient use and manure management. Congratulating participants on reaching the halfway point of the joint work, Stella Gama, Malawi, stressed that “action is urgent,” and that “we need to change gears” to ensure food security for all.
+ Visit the web coverage for Tuesday, 3 December 2019
The Chile/Madrid Climate Change Conference opened under the glare of camera lenses and flashes: the fast-paced atmosphere inevitably created when Heads of State and Government arrive. Roughly 50 world leaders gathered to hear UN Secretary-General António Guterres somberly declare that the “point of no return is in sight.”
As these dignitaries shared experiences on raising climate ambition in their countries, many emphasized that enhanced action is a moral imperative. Notably, several speakers spoke of a “climate crisis” and paid tribute to youth movements for holding decision makers accountable for increasing ambition. Another message that resonated across statements was the need to support the most vulnerable, with the Dominican Republic emphasizing the importance of public services, especially regarding education and health, and Luxembourg announcing national plans to make public transportation free for all. The EU highlighted its plan to become the first climate neutral continent by 2050.
COP 25 President Carolina Schmidt, Chile, underscored the need to reinvigorate multilateralism and ensure that negotiations spur the just and inclusive transition which is urgently needed to address the reality of vulnerable communities around the world.
Throughout the day, delegates met in plenary to launch the work of all five UNFCCC bodies. Much of the morning involved discussions on the agendas of the Conference of the Parties (COP) and Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA). Various parties and groups had proposed several new agenda items. Some of the items to be taken forward include:
Some delegates worried if the disagreements over the agendas, and the means to resolve some of them, had eroded trust among negotiators. Others disagreed and looked forward to a more “normal” pace of work tomorrow.
+ Visit the web coverage for Monday, 2 December 2019