COP25 comes at a crucial year for ambition. After COP24 delivered the “rule book” for the Paris Agreement, now called the Katowice Climate Package, a number of important questions remain open which countries have to resolve at this COP 25 in order to create the conditions for a successful COP26 in 2020.

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In spite of the strategic importance of this COP, expectations are being managed in the light of the prevailing challenging global context, created in large part by the imminent withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Agreement

Yes, this year’s conference is very much about preparing for next year, as 2020 will be a key year for ambition: according to COP Decision 1/CP.21, countries must submit new or updated NDCs by 2020, “at least 9 to 12 months in advance of the relevant session of the Conference of the Parties”. Parties are also invited to submit long-term strategies by 2020. The level of ambition of the new submitted NDCs will determine whether the world will keep the average global temperature rise under 1.5°C. According to the latest Emissions Gap Report 2019 by UNEP, total greenhouse gas emissions have risen by 1.5 percent per year over the past decade, and even if all current commitments made under the Paris Agreement were implemented, global temperatures would rise by 3.2°C. According to current trends, countries are on track to extract 120% more oil, gas and coal in 2030, as shown by the UNEP Production Gap Report. Thus, COP25 has the important task of ensuring that the world gets on track to deliver a dramatic increase in its ambition under the Paris Agreement.

The United Nations Secretary General’s Climate Action Summit in September 2019 did not boost ambition as much as expected, although it helped increase momentum on the need for urgent action. In general, the biggest take away from the Summit was the leadership demonstrated by small countries, many of which stepped up and committed to enhancing their NDCs. This leadership has been contrasted with the silence from the largest emitters, that cover over two thirds of global CO2 emissions.

In Madrid, the priorities for the Caribbean and other vulnerable regions include:

Securing an ambitious outcome from COP 25 that creates the conditions for success at COP 26. Significant media and civil society attention is needed on the integrity of the outcome of this COP. Expectations are being managed by countries that do not want to be pressured to increase the ambition of their NDCs. Many countries are ready to accept another business as usual COP outcome that would be totally inconsistent with the demands of the rest of the world and the requirements of the science.

Supporting the AOSIS demands from the review of the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) on loss and damage. The political environment around the discussion of the outcome of the review is set to deliver a weak outcome at best. In the face of stagnant or insufficient levels of ambition and increasing greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere the work of the WIM must be fit for purpose to support vulnerable countries as they face the increasingly dangerous impacts of climate change. An outcome to the review that links the WIM to the financial architecture under the Convention and the Paris Agreement and allows the work of the WIM to focus more on on-the-ground support to vulnerable countries is therefore imperative.

Caribbean #1point5toStayAlive Explainer: 'Loss & Damage' by Dawn Pierre-Nathoniel

Article 6 of the Paris Agreement on greenhouse gases enables Parties to cooperate in implementing their nationally determined contributions (NDC) towards emission reduction. Among other things, this means that emission reductions can be transferred between countries and counted towards NDCs

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Lending vocal and high-level support to AOSIS demands in the Article 6 negotiations. The outcome of these discussions could result in arrangements that are devoid of environmental integrity and that could render the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C unattainable and result in an increase in global temperatures well above 3 degrees Celsius. The discussions on this agenda item remain fraught with contention. AOSIS, supported by the least developed countries, are almost the only Parties that are demanding an outcome of this discussion that is consistent with the science and would not allow some countries to use carbon markets as a way to meet emission reduction targets on paper and continue with business as usual in reality.

Briefing note prepared with the assistance of Climate Analytics as part of the Climate Champions Project.