COP25 Hovers in the night

by Felix von Geyer, Madrid

It still remains unclear when United Nations’ climate negotiations will end this weekend. Government negotiators face at least one gruelling all-night session to discuss issues such as the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) and Article 6 of the Paris Agreement climate accord negotiated in 2015.

At heart of the WIM is Loss and Damage compensation from developed countries historically responsible for climate change to enable developing countries’ adaptation to extreme weather events caused by global warming where average global temperatures have increased by 1.1 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times.

While developing countries are asking for more money from developed countries under the Mechanism, Article 6 providing for carbon markets and non-market based approaches to mitigating emissions is more contentious.

Issues of an accounting framework to avoid double counting of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under Article 6.2 remains a vital red line for negotiators, Spain’s Environment Minister Teresa Ribera Rodriquez told reporters privately around 22.30 Friday night.

A new mechanism effectively replacing the Clean Development Mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol was the most heavily bracketed section under Article 6.4, according to Dirk Forrister, President of the International Emissions Trading Association. Both Internationally Traded Mitigation Outcomes (ITMOs) whereby countries can invest in carbon neutral projects in other countries and receive emissions credits and the Corresponding Adjustments of previous mitigation mechanisms, the CDM and Kyoto Protocol remain heavily contested.

Brazil and China have a combined total of around 1 billion Certified Emissions Reduction Units (CERs) under the CDM amounting to approximately 1 billion CERs while Australia has unused Assigned Amount Units (AAUs) left over from the Kyoto Protocol for its land use.

Article 6.8 pertains to non-market-based mechanisms such as carbon taxes.

A draft text released late this morning suggested the articles should be deferred to sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) for further explanatory guidance and implementation by summer 2020. This was instead returned to the Convention of the Parties (COP) for negotiation by COP25 President Carolina Schmidt Zaldivar, Chile’s Environment and Climate Change Minister.

Ambition for reducing GHG emissions through Nationally Determined Commitments (NDCs) is widely perceived to be impossible without Article 6 being agreed. NDCs will be submitted ahead off next year’s COP26 scheduled to be held in Glasgow, Scotland.

The European Union is understood to have a strong mandate for negotiating increased ambition from COP25 since it released its Green Deal this week with an emissions reduction target of 55% by 2030.

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