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COP25: stepping up climate change mitigation efforts substantially at national level

Photo of the opening event of the COP25 Climate Change Conference.

The COP25 Climate Change Conference is starting in Madrid today., © picture alliance / Photoshot

02.12.2019 - Article

The UN Climate Change Conference COP25 in Madrid failed to live up to expectations. A small number of countries prevented agreements from being reached on important issues. Germany and the EU had advocated an ambitious agreement.

Foreign Minister Maas expressed his disappointment at the outcome of the conference:

Unfortunately, COP25 did not manage to issue a decisive signal in the fight against climate change. Germany and the EU have sought ambitious agreements. Thanks to a very few states, these have not gone through. We have at least been able to defend the Paris Agreement and even make some major progress, for example on combating climate damage, an issue that is important to many developing countries. Now all states need to step up their climate change mitigation efforts substantially at national level.

COP25 was intended to send a clear message that more ambition is needed in climate protection. At the UN Climate Action Summit on 23 September, 66 states – including Germany – committed to the target of climate neutrality by 2050. The aim is for net emissions to be reduced to zero by mid‑century.

Progress was made at COP25 on the issue of remedying climate damage and loss, which is important for many developing countries. Island states and the poorest developing countries in particular are in urgent need of support in this area.

Detailed rules on emissions trading continue to remain open in the rulebook on implementing the Paris Agreement. The states will continue their negotiations at the next COP in Glasgow in November 2020. The aim is to make it possible for states to achieve emission reductions abroad, for example through reforestation projects. However, it must be ensured that only one country can be credited with the emissions reduction.

Swift and effective measures to reduce emissions are required as human‑induced climate change is not only an environmental phenomenon, but also one of the main security threats of the 21st century. Rising sea levels, more frequent extreme weather events and the growing risk of environmental disasters are depriving people of their livelihoods in affected regions to an ever greater extent. Climate change is therefore increasingly becoming a risk multiplier that threatens the stability of countries and societies worldwide.

Strategies for achieving climate neutrality

2020 is set to be an important year for international climate policy. The Parties to the Paris Agreement are called upon to review and, if possible, raise their climate goals next year. That also applies to the EU with its current target of a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gases compared to 1990 levels. The Green Deal recently presented by the European Commission envisages increasing this objective to 50 to 55 percent.

All states must also present long‑term climate strategies in line with the provisions set out in the Paris Agreement. Against this backdrop, the fact that the EU heads of state and government expressed their commitment to the objective of climate neutrality in the EU by 2050 at the European Council on 12 and 13 December is an important signal.

Heiko Maas at the briefing at the Federal Foreign Office prior to COP25:

Europe has to lead the way, because only then will countries like China and India stay on track. This means that the EU must step up its climate goals for 2030 and make them more ambitious next year.

Germany stands by its responsibility

Alongside its efforts to reduce its own emissions, Germany is helping over 50 countries to update their national climate change goals (Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)) with funding totalling 20 million euros. The projects in this context are conducted via the NDC Partnership, which was founded together with Morocco in 2016 and now comprises over 100 countries and 35 international institutions.

As one of the biggest donors in climate protection and adaptation to the impacts of climate change, Germany is thus standing by its responsibility. The Federal Government has set itself the goal of doubling Germany’s climate financing to four billion euros in 2020 compared with 2014. In line with this, Germany will double its contribution to the Green Climate Fund, the central multilateral instrument of international climate financing, to 1.5 billion euros.

Focus on Glasgow in 2020

After a long struggle to reach a compromise, COP25 ended two days late on 15 December. As Chile decided that it was unable to host the conference, COP25 took place in Madrid from 2 to 15 December. The Federal Foreign Office supported the organisation of the conference to the tune of 300,000 euros. Chile continues to hold the COP Presidency and led the negotiations. The next COP, COP26, will be held in Glasgow in 2020. The EU will make an important contribution with its European Green Deal and the decision by the European Council to make Europe climate neutral by 2050.

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