The intricate shape of an iceberg, above and below
What Lies Unseen The intricate shape of an iceberg, above and below © Matt Todd/TNC Photo Contest 2019

Newsroom

Statement from The Nature Conservancy following close of UN Climate Change Conference COP 25

What ails the planet has been diagnosed. Yet, no country is leading on writing the prescriptions.

As the UN Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP 25 conference closes today in Madrid, Spain, The Nature Conservancy released the following statement from John Verdieck, International Climate Policy Director: 

“Two weeks ago, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres opened the COP 25 saying, ‘…we are knowingly destroying the life support systems for our planet through human activities that exacerbate the magnitude of climate change impacts.’  What ails the planet has been diagnosed. Yet, no country is leading on writing the prescriptions.

“Despite the Secretary General’s warning, and the millions of global citizens clamoring for ambitious action, the latest COP negotiations have closed with few decisions made, and little concrete action taken. 

“This lack of urgency from world leaders shows a weak response to both the climate emergency we face and demands of people across the globe for decisive changes to protect our future. Paralysis cannot be allowed to prevent planetary recovery.

“While most of the Rulebook for implementing the Paris Agreement was finished last year and provided countries the clarity they need to implement their commitments, crucial details remain unresolved around carbon markets, transparency, and adaptation protections for vulnerable countries. Instead of finalizing key decisions to give countries clarity as they prepare to revise and enhance their national commitments at COP 26 in Glasgow next year, the past two weeks have done little more than kick the can down the road.

“For the second year in a row, governments failed to reach a conclusion on the creation of a carbon market. Getting the rules around carbon markets right is critical to fighting climate change.  Without clear rules in place, we lose one more financial tool and could see weakened ambition, less investment, and the potential for increased emissions.

“It’s particularly disappointing that this week’s ’no decision’ on transparency unraveled years of hard work meant to bolster accountability. By waiting at least another year to formalize guidance, the entire Paris Agreement could be weakened and without direction as countries were expected to prepare to increase ambitions in COP 26.

“There were, however, a few sparks of hope. The passion of the world’s youth for substantive climate action has never been more apparent. Their leadership has captivated the entire planet on behalf of the vulnerable communities whose very short-term survival is under threat. 

“Additionally, the understanding that nature can play a key role as part of the solution to the climate and biodiversity puzzle was more present and central than at any previous COP. The role of oceans was featured for the first time, working towards insuring the integrity of oceans and coastal ecosystems for climate mitigation and adaptation. Nature-based solutions have the potential to provide more than a third of the emissions reductions called for by the Paris Agreement by 2030, as well as protecting wildlife habitat. Those solutions for forests, farms, and wetlands are available right now and can be implemented cost-effectively, often with no major policy shifts required. 

“There is still time to fix what ails us, but we have let another critical opportunity slide by. The irony is that many solutions we seek are actually available right now. 

“We just need the courage to act.”

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 79 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.