COP 25: Crunch time for the Paris Agreement

Published 28th November 2019 by Rachel Hunter
COP 25 for the Paris Agreement takes place in Madrid

Faced with the challenge of making 2015’s Paris Agreement operational, this COP needs to be decisive.

Having overcome some unprecedented political obstacles by changing host countries, then host continent, the COP 25 is going ahead. It will run from Monday 2 to Friday 13 December in Madrid.

Special attention will be given to biodiversity and the ocean, which has recently been placed at the heart of climate action in the latest special report of the United Nations Panel of Experts on the Climate (IPCC).

This COP will be key to implement the Paris Agreement with negotiations focused on international carbon markets, climate finance and preparing the world for a pivotal decade of climate action.

The main objectives of COP 25

The effective implementation of the Paris Agreement is based on the decisions taken at this conference. First, discussions will be around how to achieve more ambitious climate commitments for each participating country. Given that we are currently following a trajectory of 4°C warming, or potentially even 7°C, it is vital that states raise the ambition of their contributions. Carbon neutral goals will be part of these discussions to ensure that ambition is in place and guides action.

The stakes are high to put the planet on a 1.5 °C path before the COP26 to be held in Glasgow in 2020. We now have 10 years to save the climate according to the scientific recommendations of the IPCC report on the urgency of limiting global warming to 1.5°C by 2030. This COP must, therefore, help set the stage for that to happen.

The scope of this COP goes beyond the national level and concerns all stakeholders. Cities, regions, organisations and companies must engage on climate action. Indeed, expectations are high in terms of finalising the rules for this, especially for the mobilization of the private sector through its contribution to climate finance.

The main challenges for COP 25   

This year’s conference will lay the groundwork for international cooperation to fight climate change by establishing the rules for an international greenhouse gas emission transfer mechanism, to be used by both governments and private actors. A future international carbon credit mechanism should be the result. The main challenge is to ensure the environmental integrity of GHG reduction or sequestration projects and to avoid the double-counting of carbon credits, guaranteeing their uniqueness.

Article 6 of the Paris Agreement is at the heart of this debate. However, its negotiation was not finalised at COP 24 and is therefore not included in the Paris Rulebook (that lays the foundations for the implementation of the Paris Agreement). Article 6 is of such importance because it implements policies of cooperation between states (Article 6.2) and allows the mobilisation of companies to finance the transition to carbon neutrality (Article 6.4). It specifies the Measure-Reporting-Verification (MRV) regime, which allows the accounting of GHG emissions from projects and gives the principles for the delivery of carbon credits. This includes:

  • The types of eligible projects and sectors
  • The guidelines for establishing the base scenario
  • The methodologies for each type of eligible project
  • The additionality criteria
  • The delivery period for credits
  • The implementation of a register
  • Measures to avoid double counting of credits between States

All these principles are essential for the smooth operation of international transfers of emission reductions between the States so that the private sector can take action with low risk. These mechanisms are important because they achieve more emission reductions at lower cost, contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as feed into to the nationally determined contributions of individual States, especially the least developed countries, through the mobilisation of private companies and climate finance.

We will be at the COP 25 – keep following us to stay in the loop! @eco_act

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