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COP25: What happened and where to next?

Written by Miguel Cordeiro

Partnerships Manager Europe at Sustainable Development Alliance | Founder Start Europe

20th December 2019

Photo: Credits Kiara Worth (

The COP25 UN Conference ended after a 2 of extensive negotiations with some resolutions but without reaching an agreement on international carbon market rules.

The ambition to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change was the main objective of the summit, and the agreement reached was considered insufficient and unclear by the various countries and non-governmental organizations.

These are the main conclusions:

1. Calls for an increase in the ambition of climate change commitments by laying the foundations for countries to make more ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction commitments by 2020, as outlined by the Paris Agreement.

2. Agrees that climate policies must be constantly updated on the basis of scientific information, recognizing the role of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

3. Confirms that the fight against climate change is a cross-cutting issue involving sectors ranging from finance to science, industry to energy, transport to forests or agriculture.

4. Recognizes the importance of oceans in the global climate system in response to IPCC reports, and two initiatives to be implemented in 2020, one on oceans and one on land use, have been agreed.

5. Specifies the need for a new Gender Equality Action Plan to increase women’s participation in international climate change negotiations, and to develop measures that respond to different ways in which climate change affects women and children. This plan will be effective until 2025, when it will be revised.

6. Establishes the allocation of resources for loss and damage of the most vulnerable countries to climate change through the Green Climate Fund. This was one of the most insistent requests from the small island states that are most affected.

7. Calls for the most developed countries to allocate financial resources to help developing countries by creating the “Santiago Network”, which viabilizes technical assistance from organizations and experts to be channeled to these vulnerable countries.

8. Recognizes the importance of non-governmental actors in climate action, urging them to increase their participation.

9. At COP25 89 million dollars (€ 80 million Euros) were mobilized from various countries for the Adaptation Fund, and more than 80 countries announced that will take more ambitious commitments than the ones that have been decided previously for 2020.

10. The most controversial issue of the COP25, the regulation of carbon markets, was discussed separately, so that the remaining issues were not hampered by their delay and possible stalemate. Carbon tax regulation was preferable, by country delegates, to be a no deal rather than a bad deal.

The agreement further recognizes the importance of the leading role and social dimension behind the COP25 and the importance in which people must be at the center of the response to the climate crisis, recognizing that there is a need to make a transition to a carbon-free world, providing fairness and quality job creation.

Compared to last year’s COP, the climate change problem recognition has increased:

1) The number of multinationals committed to carbon neutrality in 2050 rose from 90 at the New York summit last September to 117 at the Madrid summit.

2) The number of major cities committed to neutrality has risen from a hundred at the New York summit to 398 at COP25.

3) The number of countries committed to carbon neutrality has gone from 66 to 73.

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