Blog

Outcomes of COP25

By Talkmore Chidede
19 Dec 2019
Share on
7 minute read
Outcomes of COP25

The 25th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP25) was held in Madrid, Spain from 2nd to 13th December 2019. COP25 was intended to be the launchpad for the full implementation of the Paris Agreement post-2020. The Conference proceeded through debates, meetings and sessions.[1] At COP25, countries were expected to, inter alia:

  • Submit their climate action plans and timeframes;

  • Resolve the financing of climate action worldwide;

  • Resolve how to support countries affected by the impacts of climate change;

  • Conclude the negotiations related to Art. 6 of the pdf Paris Agreement (505 KB) .

  • Establish financing of loss and damage from climate change. [2]

At COP25, countries agreed on few issues and were unable to agree on several issues.

Countries agreed to table their new and improved carbon curbing plans at COP26 in 2020. Developed nations agreed to honour their commitments on climate change before the end of 2020. 73 countries and several non-state actors (approx. 1 214 regions, cities, businesses and investors) committed to net zero emissions by 2050 – the new Climate Ambition Alliance.[3] COP25 agreed on a new 5-year Gender Action Plan[4] expected to support the implementation of gender-related decisions and mandates in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change process.[5] Further, countries requested meetings on ‘the ocean and climate change’ and ‘land and climate change adaptation matters’ to be convened at the next UN Climate meeting in Bonn in June 2020.[6]

At COP25, countries failed to reach consensus on several most-contentious (technical and non-technical) issues including, among others, negotiations related to Art. 6 of the Paris Agreement, financing of the global climate action, transparency reporting requirements and (common) timeframes for climate commitments. Countries agreed that the issues will be resolved at COP26 to be held in Glasgow, Scotland in November 2020.

Art. 6 of the Paris Agreement is on of the most contentious issues in the UN climate change debates. It provides for international cooperation climate change mitigation mechanisms. It enshrines mechanisms intended to assist governments in implementing their nationally determined contributions (NDCs)[7] via voluntary international cooperation. According to the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), ‘this cooperation mechanism, if properly designed, should make it easier to achieve reduction targets and raise ambition. In particular, Article 6 could also establish a policy foundation for an emissions trading system, which could help lead to a global price on carbon’.[8] ICC further notes that ‘under this mechanism, countries with low emissions would be allowed to sell their exceeding allowance to larger emitters, with an overall cap of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, ensuring their net reduction. Supply and demand for emissions allowances would lead to the establishment of a global carbon price that would tie the negative externalities of GHG emissions to polluters. In other words, by paying a price on carbon, states exceeding their NDCs would bear the costs of global warming’.[9]

At COP25, countries discussed – without reaching consensus – various options for common timeframes for implementing climate action plans.[10] The options included 5-year timeframes, 10 years, a choice of either or combination of the two.

COP25 failed to establish a funding mechanism for loss and damage. Instead, countries agreed to establish an Expert Group to advise on the issue.

Overall, COP25 did not make any progress on both technical and important issues such as Art. 6 and the ambitious climate action plans. Many people expressed their frustration with COP25 outcomes. For instance, the UN Secretary General, António Guterres uttered that ‘the international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation and finance to tackle the climate crisis’.[11] Equally, several groups of climate campaigners and indigenous rights activists staged ‘a protest demanding that nations commit to act now to avert catastrophic climate change’.[12]

Climate change is one of the most pressing issues in recent global debates. It is therefore important for world leaders to resolve climate change issues as they affect the lives of people and their sustainable development. Devoted political will and urgent collective action of state and non-state actors (at all levels) is required to ensure that climate change is addressed. Actors should pay more than lip-service to action plans to curb carbon emissions.

It is worrisome that COP25, which was meant to prepare the way for implementation of the Paris Agreement post-2020, did not make much progress. Nevertheless, states should take the period prior to COP26 as an opportunity to renew their commitments and appropriately plans for climate action. COP26 is expected to initiate the implementation of the Paris Agreement.


[1] See https://unfccc.int/sites/default/files/resource/Overview%20Schedule_COP25.pdf. All COP25 documents are available at https://unfccc.int/documents?f%5B0%5D=conference%3A4252

[2] See https://pib.gov.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=195780

[3] See https://unfccc.int/news/climate-ambition-alliance-nations-renew-their-push-to-upscale-action-by-2020-and-achieve-net-zero

[4] See https://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2017/cop23/eng/11a01.pdf#page=13

[5] The original Gender Action Plan was agreed at COP20, and sought to advance women’s participation and promote gender-responsive climate policy.

[6] See https://unfccc.int/sites/default/files/resource/cp2019__L10E_adv.pdf

[7] NDCs are countries’ post-2020 climate action plans. See more about NDCs at https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/the-paris-agreement/nationally-determined-contributions-ndcs

[8] See https://iccwbo.org/media-wall/news-speeches/article-6-important/

[9] Ibid.

[10] See https://unfccc.int/sites/default/files/resource/IN.SBI51.i5.pdf

[11] See https://unfccc.int/news/statement-by-the-un-secretary-general-antonio-guterres-on-the-outcome-of-cop25

[12] See https://news.yahoo.com/activists-kicked-un-climate-talks-protest-154300795.html

About the Author(s)

Talkmore Chidede

Talkmore Chidede

Talkmore Chidede holds a Doctor of Laws (LL.D) degree in International Investment Law from the University of the Western Cape. Talkmore also holds a Master of Laws (LL.M) degree (Cum Laude) in International Trade and Investment Law and a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) degree, both from the University of Fort Hare. His research interests include international investment law, international trade law, regional economic integration and international commercial arbitration.

Leave a comment

The Trade Law Centre (tralac) encourages relevant, topic-related discussion and intelligent debate. By posting comments on our website, you’ll be contributing to ongoing conversations about important trade-related issues for African countries. Before submitting your comment, please take note of our comments policy.

Read more...