German ministers urge EU to lead the way at COP25 in Madrid

At a Berlin conference to prepare for the UN’s annual climate summit (COP25), Environment Minister Svenja Schulze and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas stressed the EU’s responsibility in closing the Paris Climate Agreement’s remaining gaps, particularly by raising the targets at the EU level. EURACTIV Germany reports.

About two weeks before COP25 in Madrid, two MPs from the Socialist Democratic Party (SPD) called on the EU to take on a leadership role at the annual conference. It should close the remaining gaps in the Paris climate agreement, they said.

“Europe must play a leading role in climate ambitions. As major emitters, we must send the right signals,” Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Thursday (14 November). Alluding to the US, he added that “in times of national unilateralism, the international community cannot rely on the COP process alone”.

It is therefore crucial for the EU to engage in dialogue with other progressive forces and sharpen its goals.

“The European Union must do more. We cannot stick to the current climate ambitions we have set,” Environment Minister Schulze added. She would support Ursula von der Leyen’s ambitions for increased climate protection.

Regarding her expectations for COP25, Schulze said she hoped an agreement would be reached on an international credit system for emission certificates that would function “without loopholes and without double counting”, one of the open negotiating points that should be concluded in Madrid.

Article 6 of the Paris agreement – the market mechanism

Article 6 provides for an international regulation which deals with the trading of pollution rights, similar to the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). Up to now, states have been able to finance environmental measures in other countries under the Kyoto Protocol adopted in 1997 and have offset such carbon savings against their national carbon footprints.

However, the international agreement expires in 2020 and is to be replaced by provisions laid out in the Paris Agreement. It is still unclear according to which rules emissions trading should take place and whether countries will be allowed to finance climate measures abroad and count them as their emission reductions in the future.

It also remains to be seen whether countries will be able to continue to take into consideration their achievements made under the Kyoto Protocol after 2020, once the Paris Agreement comes into effect. While Brazil, China and India have so far argued in favour, critics have warned against ‘greenwashing’.

The main objective of the negotiations will be to convince Brazil.

Damage and losses – the Warsaw mechanism

The so-called ‘Warsaw mechanism’, which provides for financial and technical assistance to regions affected by climate change, will be reviewed and adapted in Madrid. Its primary instrument is the international Green Climate Fund, which currently has $5.6 billion at its disposal.

From 2020, the money pot is to be significantly increased to $100 billion a year. But it is still unclear where the funds will come from, even though many countries have already pledged to raise their funds.

It is also still unclear how losses will be quantified and compensated internationally, and to what extent which countries will be held responsible.

Data collection

At the climate summit, the international community will continue to work on a uniform basis for a global reporting mechanism to report that monitors environmental measures.

At last year’s COP24, it was possible to draw up uniform guidelines for comparing the national climate contributions of all countries. Bureaucratic regulations for reporting now have to be agreed upon.

The COP25’s central objective will also be to persuade the international community to raise its climate targets, which, according to the Paris agreement, should happen every five years. The climate plans presented so far are not sufficient to keep global warming below two degrees, but would instead lead to a three-degree scenario.

In a UN assessment published on 21 September, it was concluded that “G20 nations are collectively not on track to meet their Paris Agreement commitments”.

At the UN climate summit in New York in September, around 60 countries, therefore, promised to adjust their climate targets accordingly next year.

The European Commission also warned member states in June that their submitted climate plans were inadequate.

The incoming Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is therefore calling for an increase in the EU target for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from 40% to 55%, compared to 1990 levels. This is also in line with a demand by the European Parliament’s Environment Committee (ENVI).

In a COP25 resolution adopted last week, MEPs called for a minimum increase of 55% and recommended that shipping and air transport be integrated into national climate plans.

Officially, the COP25 will be the last opportunity for all member states to adapt their national climate plans in time, as they must be submitted nine to 12 months before the following COP26 in November 2020.

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