Being here at the negotiations in the critical year of 2019 is an experienced unmatched, not by my past two COPs not any other climate conferences I have been to. It is abundantly clear, through the press, through the guest list, and through the deadlines, that the stakes are high for improvements upon climate action to be made.
There are a number of key areas where this must be done, all found in the discrepancies of the Paris Agreement and it’s rulebook: how do we establish a fair and equitable carbon market that does not count emissions twice, how do states protect the most vulnerable islands without having those affected communities foot the bill, how do countries close the gap between their current emissions reductions and the ones we need to stay below a 2 degree temperature rise?
Early in the day I had the chance to listen in on a press conference on how to address the challenges of Article 6 (carbon emissions markets) such as double counting, and hear a highly technical and substantive statement from the Environmental Defense Fund.
While that energized me, other events left me with some concerns.
The President of Spain hosted a roundtable discussion with the Prime Minister of Portugal, the Environmental Minister of Brazil, the Executive Director of Santander Bank, and other representatives. Many would expect Brazil to be raising concerns due to their stance on some issues core in the debate this year (emissions markets, etc), but few were comfortable when they heard the Minister basically deny that Brazil was lagging on climate action, and insist that his country was takin steps and were heavily limited by the need to protect their job-creating industries. To top it off, the Santander representative began to explain that pricing carbon emissions would basically solve the problem on its own, when in fact the very commodification of carbon emissions takes the human effect away from the emissions and needs to be coupled with the general push towards no emissions through policy and social action beyond just a price.
They took no questions, and the ministers went on to their next meeting. This left many in the room scratching their heads, and while I chatted with other delegates, we talked about ways to stay vigilant on preventing these comments from turning into hesitancy on real action.
The hope is that in the back and forth of strong action and subsequent slow resistance, we can come out of COP25 with the results we need to push through to a huge 2020 year of updating national commitments. My take after day one is that it’s possible, but it needs every ounce of ambition from everyone in attendance.
About the Author
Keyon is a Senior at Northeastern double majoring in International Affairs and Economics. He is the President of the International Relations Council, and is attending his Third COP climate change conference. His biggest interest areas are carbon markets, loss and damage, and environmental refugee status.