Updated: Sep 3, 2020
COP 25: Expectations and Outcomes
Friday, the 13th saw the conclusion of yet another Conference of Parties (COP), this time held in Madrid, after the original hosts Chile had to back out due civil unrest in the country. Attended by nearly 25000 delegates from all over the world- from bureaucrats, researchers and top climate scientists to Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenage climate warrior, who famously braved the Atlantic in the winter to sail back to Europe to attend the event- the COP is hosted by the UN for world leaders to discuss ways to tackle global climate change. This year’s event was particularly important as the Kyoto Protocol’s second commitment period comes to an end in 2020. Despite the high stakes, not much was achieved of the set targets of this particular conference, namely:
i. Bringing countries together to adopt or commit more stringent actions targets by 2020; and
ii. Bringing clarity and defining rules for Article 6 of Paris Convention.
The few silver linings came in the form of India and EU’s self-binding commitments, the Danish parliament’s new climate law set to cut emissions to 70% below 1990 levels by 2030, and the participation of 177 private companies-having a combined market capitalization of over US$2.8 trillion, and annual direct emissions equivalent to those of France-in committing towards highly ambitious emissions reduction targets.
In 2015, the COP 21 held in Paris decided to limit the increase in global average temperature this century to well below 2’C(3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial levels, and ultimately to limit that increase to 1.5’C (2.7‘ F). Under the agreement, participatory countries were asked to formulate their plans setting targets for emissions reductions and detail measures aimed to meet those targets. However, current studies show that targets set at Paris are miles from being achieved with several countries under great threat from climate change urging the world to take a stand. Much to everyone’s disappointment no concrete measures were agreed upon this year as well.
Serious introspection is needed as to why, despite having more than 190 signatory countries and the European Union’s undeterred commitment, countries are unable to reach a common consensus to tackle the biggest known threat to mankind.
It doesn’t take much to get to get to the bottom of this bleak picture: since the very inception of the Protocol the major contributors of Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) have always shirked their responsibilities. Recent statistics suggest that the top 15 GHGs contributors produce a whopping 72 % of the Global CO2 emissions, while the other 180 countries put together produce just about 28 % of CO2; to put that into perspective, that’s exactly the same amount as what China alone emits. The top 15 contributors, with the exception of Germany, are non-parties (US and Canada), non-binding parties (most of developing countries including China and India) or are not participating in targets (Russia and Japan). This hugely skewed scenario makes achieving any set target an uphill task.
Despite the lackluster performance at COP 25, all eyes are now set on COP 26 to be held in Bonn, Germany next year. The hope is that all the countries, especially the top polluters, can get together to combat climate change as any failure to do so now will undermine all efforts and have the biggest impact on those who contribute to it the least. The children of the world are awake and watching.
- Edited by Tauqir Mahmood
- Art by Fariha Chagla ( faiebae@instagram )