Multilateral Environmental Agreement Body
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When delegates returned to Bonn after three years, the venue was the same, but so much else had changed: two parties are at war, greenhouse gas emissions are higher than ever, and climate impacts are increasing in severity. Loss and damage is now unavoidable—as are vulnerable countries’ calls for compensation.
Side Events at COP 26
Despite divisive negotiations at COP 26, parties managed to finalize the Paris Agreement Rulebook and adopt other substantive outcomes. During the closing plenaries, parties reflected that the overall package was not perfect, and many stressed that they were adopting the package “in the spirit of compromise.”
Delegates agreed to meet virtually, with the subsidiary bodies focused on a smaller set of agenda items in informal consultations only. To assuage some countries, there was no negotiating text or draft decisions in preparation for COP 26. Rather, progress on each item was captured in an informal note.
The COP sign at the entrance to the venue as the negotiations go 42 hours over time, making it the longest COP in UNFCCC history. 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.
As the negotiations slow to a crawl inside the venue, members of Extinction Rebellion and FridaysForFuture demonstrate on the streets outside, calling this the 'ultimatum COP' to address the climate crisis. 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.”
On the penultimate day of COP 25, a sign in the corridors reminds delegates of the urgency of reaching a positive outcome. 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: Article 6 (market and non-market mechanisms); Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change Impacts (WIM); Response measures; and The outcome decisions for this meeting. 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. For more details on the day’s negotiations and to hear what delegates said in the corridors, see our daily Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB).
A mass demonstration is held outside plenary where members of civil society call for stronger climate action. 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. For more details on the day’s negotiations and to hear what delegates said in the corridors, see our daily Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB).
Delegates huddle during the final stages of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) closing plenary. 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). For more details on the day’s negotiations and to hear what delegates said in the corridors, see our daily Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB).
As the first week of COP 25 draws to a close, members of the G-77/China huddle during an informal consultation to try reach agreement. 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. For more details on the day’s negotiations and to hear what delegates said in the corridors, see our daily Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB).