COP 25 Proves To Be A Cop Out


The annual Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC (the COP) in Madrid, the 25th edition which ended on Sunday did not deliver much needed finances to tackle climate issues including a Fund for loss and damages.

The most contentious issues at this COP was carbon markets, finances for loss and damages and the Human rights issues, says Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) Executive Director Hemantha Withanage. The environmental scientist said that according to the German Climate Index Sri Lanka was the second worst climate affected country in 2017. Damage was some USD 3200 million.

The most climate affected country in that year was Puerto Rico with 86,000 Million USD. Withanage, who is also a member Friends of Earth (FoE) Sri Lanka said: There is no good news out of this COP for countries already hit by climate change. Neither any new finances for loss and damage suffered by developing countries nor any agreed provision of long term climate finance. This COP established an expert group however, no deadline to feedback and consensus to establish the ‘Santiago Network’. There is no agreement on governance of the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage.

According to Sara Shaw, Climate campaigner of the Friends of the Earth international, “The good news for Southern communities, Indigenous People and for the climate is that there is no deal on dodgy carbon trading out of Madrid. This is despite a last minute attempt by developed countries and a few big developing countries to push through a destructive deal that would have flooded the system with old carbon credits and opened the door to huge new trading mechanisms. This is a small victory, with an even bigger fight ahead into COP26 next year.

“On the streets of Chile and Madrid we saw an explosion of people power, with thousands marching for climate justice. During COP25, hundreds of us held peaceful action inside to express our frustration with the lack of action. This was aggressively shut down and we were thrown out of the building. But it’s big polluters who should be thrown out, not the people. We will continue to stand with Indigenous People, peasants, fisherfolk, women and local communities whose lives are already being devastated by climate change and who are losing hope for justice from the international climate talks.” Sara Shaw said.

Meanwhile, Delhi based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) points out that international carbon trading should be restricted to activities or technologies which deliver outcomes well beyond business-as-usual.

The objective has to be to ensure that the world does not see a recurrence of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) under the Kyoto Protocol, which was designed to keep costs low and find the most efficient reductions it completely failed in delivering the kind of transformative change that the world needs.

The market design that the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) proposes is fundamentally different from the CDM. It is not designed to capture the low-hanging fruit; instead, it is deliberately designed to allow the world to pay for transformative change, which would have higher costs, but would allow countries to leapfrog to new emissions reduction technologies.

CSE considers that this goal can only be met by setting a floor cost to qualify projects for accreditation under the Paris market mechanism. The floor cost should be carefully set to eliminate projects which would not provide the transformative change that is required in today’s climate risked world.

This restriction should ideally be in the form of a minimum cost per tonne ideally at least USD100 per tonne of carbon dioxide mitigated. Only activities or technologies with a cost above this threshold should be allowed accreditation under Article 6.

This restriction must be a foundational pillar of market design from the beginning, not an add-on at a later stage. Without it, the only purpose served by markets under the Paris Agreement would be to let developed countries abandon their NDC commitments, CSE scientists points out.