12/12/2019 – ELEVENTH DAY OF COP25

There is no agreement. For now.

Throughout the day, a group of countries have been pressing at the Madrid Climate Summit to delay up to three years the obligation to present stronger and more ambitious measures against change climate. In 2020 the new cycle begins in the Paris Agreement where the commitments of the countries must be revised upwards, but this group has proposed waiting until 2023 to present said measures.

The problem is that the development of the Paris Agreement indicates that countries whose climate plans reach the year 2030 they must communicate or update said contribution in 2020 at the latest, but it is not established that the contributions must be improved each time they are presented. These reticent countries argue that the review of the current situation comes until 2020 and that it is not until 2023 when improved measures have to be taken.

The obstacles, therefore, are placed by large gas emitters. And who are the big polluters? In terms of total CO2 emissions, we are talking about China, the US, India, Russia, Japan, the European Union, South Korea, Iran and Saudi Arabia, according to 2018 data. Of the 184 countries that submitted plans under the Paris Agreement, only about 80 had already announced they would submit improved programs in 2020, but these only account for 10% of emissions, according to the World Resources Institute. In addition, three countries absent from COP25 (USA, China and Russia) are the emitters of 50% of the planet’s Greenhouse Gases.

Another of the most sensitive issues at COP25 is the one referring to the regulatory mechanisms for carbon markets (article 6 of the agreement). This point makes it possible to guarantee environmental integrity and avoid double counting in countries like China, India or Brazil, which intend to use old carbon credits and have them recognized. In other words, the intention of these countries would be to transfer credits from the previous mechanism (Kyoto) to the new one (Paris).

To all these complications must be added the fact that certain economies are not sufficiently diversified. Some countries, such as the countries of the Middle East, Colombia, Ecuador, Iran or Brazil have a high dependence on fossil fuels. These countries cannot afford to limit their production based on non-renewable energy sources that accelerate climate change.

With these issues on the table, delegations from 196 countries are working against the clock to present a “relatively clean” text in the next few hours. Even if an agreement is reached tomorrow, Friday, in-extremis, the basic problem will remain the same: it is true that the discourse of the climate emergency, as well as that of the need to protect and manage the environment environment in a sustainable way, is penetrating the political sphere; however, the most important countries continue not wanting to limit their production and economic growth for different reasons: loss of competitiveness with respect to other countries, fear of social reaction… . We must know, accept and integrate into our discourse that investments in protecting the environment bring benefits in the medium and long term. It will be then when we find ourselves on the right path; until then, sadly, we will keep getting closer and closer to the precipice.

Tomorrow we have the last chapter of this story. We’ll see what happens.