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Highlights of COP 25 and the path to COP 26

Document prepared from international analyses of COP25. Read more!




The main expectation for COP25, held in Madrid, in December 2019, after the cancellation by Chile, was the finalization of the Rule Book of the Paris Agreement. However, the decisions about the operating rules of the carbon markets (Article 6 of the Agreement) and about the governance of the mechanism of loss and damage were not concluded, and were postponed for this year.


The general feeling during and after COP25 is of a mismatch between the urgency declared by science, the requests of civil society and other political actors for urgent responses, and the agility and willingness of governments to submit more ambitious commitments.

In the final hours of COP25, faced with the risk that the negotiations could lead to rules that could diminish the environmental integrity and legitimacy of the market mechanism, with the risks of double counting and credit transfers during the transition period of the Kyoto Protocol to the new mechanism, resulting in the so-called "Hot Air," a group of the developed and developing countries aligned with the San Jose principles, led by Costa Rica. For these countries, postponing until next year seemed better than agreeing with rules that could represent risks to the integrity of the objectives of the Paris Agreement. However, a delay in the decision does not guarantee a better result in 2020.


In this regard, important countries such as Brazil, Australia, Saudi Arabia, USA, India and China, ended up demonstrating few constructive positions for the conclusion of the negotiations.


What was decided?

The final adopted decisions can be found here. Below is a brief summary of what was decided:

  1. Ambition: The main decision texts emphasize the urgency of action in 2020, to be held in the light of the best available science (including references to the recent IPCC reports).The language of the decisions that directs the countries to the refinement of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) is relatively weak, but it went beyond a simple reaffirmation from the request of Paris to update them or to refine them.

  2. Pre-2020 commitments: The Parties of the Convention agreed to hold discussions in 2020 and 2021 with countries and non-state actors. They requested the secretariat of the UNFCCC to provide, by September 2022, an assessment report of the implementation by the developed countries of their commitments of mitigation, adaptation and financing, relative to the period prior to 2020.

  3. Loss and damage: Presented as "impacts of climate change," the final decisions propose a future process for the assessment of loss and damage, which includes a work group that is specialized in mobilizing support and an implementation network to explore mechanisms in the UNFCCC. It also suggests external options that expand the possibilities of financing for loss and damage.

  4. Non-state actors: A mandate was given to the non-state action (through the Marrakesh Partnership and the NAZCA global climate action initiative) and the appointment of high-level champions so that climate action continues until at least 2025.

  5. Oceans: The decision by COP determines that the dialogues to be held at SBSTA 52, in June 2020, address the connections between the ocean and the climate and the land and the climate; and it requests informal reports in preparation for these discussions.

  6. Gender: Part of the Lima work program about gender, the Gender Action Plan (GAP) was adopted, encouraging the parties to advance in its implementation.

What was left for 2020?

· The governments "agreed to disagree" about Article 6. There are three main elements still open: Corresponding Adjustments, Response Measures and Overall and Mitigation in Global Emissions (OMGE). More information about these issues can be found here.


· The governance of WIM (Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage), and particularly the question of the applicability of paragraph 51 of the monitoring decisions of Paris, excluding liability or compensation, was a turning point.


· Decision about common deadlines for the implementation of the NDC - should it be 5 or 10 years?


What COP25 tells us about 2020

· Achieving the real ambition in the form of refined NDCs will be a difficult race in the current geopolitical climate. The governments that characteristically obstruct climate policy will probably not change in 2020 (with the possible exception of the US, which has elections just before COP26 in November).


· The diffident result about the refinement of the NDC achieved in Madrid shows how rare is the political will and how complex it will be to obtain refined NDCs that go beyond insignificant updating and that lead to the effective reduction of global emissions. A report on the new NDCs should be available in November 2020 (COP26).


· The inseparable relationship between climate and the protection of nature firmly emerged as one of the strong narrative movements of 2020. It will largely determine the success of COPs of Biodiversity (in China, in October) and COP26. It will also be the crucial point of success in the next decade: it is necessary to radically restore nature as a means of mitigating and adapting to climate change.


· The growing need to combine objectives of social justice and climate action has permeated expectations, demands of civil society, and high-level declarations, but still needs to be translated into specific paths to change. The Green New Deal in the European Union is a step forward in this direction.


Media Highlights


Failure of climate talks puts the onus on the UK(Financial Times)

COP25: Key outcomes agreed at the UN climate talks in Madrid (Carbon Brief)

UN climate talks: Australia accused of 'cheating' and thwarting global deal (The Guardian)

COP-25 fails and only the EU displays boldness in the environmental agenda(Valor Econômico)

After Brazilian obstruction, the Climate Summit fails and postpones decisions(Folha de S. Paulo)

Without any agreement about the carbon market, the Madrid COP ends without achieving its objectives (O Estado de S. Paulo)


Declarations and commitments during COP25

631 investors who manage over US$ 37 trillion in assets urged governments to increase their ambition. They represent one third of the global attraction [CF1] of assets under management.


The Consortium of Brazil’s Legal Amazon, consisting of nine states from the region, represented by their governors, signed a letter of intent of cooperation with Francefor actions to reduce deforestation and to promote sustainable development in the Amazon region. It is expected that the governors will visit France, in 2020, in order to research sources of financing and to submit projects for regional development and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.


During COP25, the government of the state of São Paulo presented the São PauloAgreement initiative, which has a voluntary membership of over 50 companies that have committed to reporting emissions for the preparation of mitigation plans with CETESB – the Environmental Company of the State of São Paulo.


The latest report from America's Pledge disclosed that the climate commitments of the sub-national leaders of the USA are on track to comply with two-thirds of the current target of the country for the Paris Agreement and should lead to the reduction of greenhouse gases by 25% up to 2030 (compared to the 2005 levels). The document concludes that a larger sub-action may reduce emissions by 37% up to 2030; and by 49% up to 2030 if the federal government returns to becoming involved after the 2020 elections.

The renewed Climate Ambition Alliance, which was launched at the UN Secretary-General’s Summit in September, has 73 countries, 14 regions, 398 cities, 786 companies and 16 investors working to achieve net zero CO2 emissions by 2050.


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