From today and for two weeks, Madrid will be the headquarters of COP25 Chile, the 25th Conference of the Parties. That is the highest decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. But what can we expect from it?
What is being cooked in Madrid
Four years ago, in Paris, COP21 succeeded in approving agreements that would replace the famous (and controversial) Kyoto Protocol. The Paris Agreements will enter into force on January 1, so this summit brings the endpoint of Kyoto and, above all, the beginning of the new “climate season” of Paris.
It is held in Madrid because the Government of Spain offered to organize it and as the situation in Chile did not offer guarantees to ensure the proper functioning of the Summit. This is not the first time the summit has been moved. Two years ago, COP23 was held in Bonn because Fiji had no capacity to organize it.
What can we expect from all this? A priori, we could think a lot. The truth is that to this day the Paris Agreement remains, eminently, an undefined tailor’s drawer. The world has no clear plans, so this summit could help to get to it. But the things of climate change are going slowly.
So, the truth is that we can expect little from COP25. The important summit will be next year’s summit in Glasgow. There, after years of work and with some luck, plans to meet Paris will be defined. In that sense, the Madrid summit is going to be a “preparation” summit for Glasgow. The negotiations are mainly aimed at making countries more ambitious next year.
This, as you can imagine, creates paradoxes: a United Kingdom that should be interested in attracting these countries to the climate fold, but which, at the same time, is aligned (half by Brexit, half by conviction) with Trump’s United States; china that, despite leading emissions (and continuing to build thermal plants) wants to lead international climate change policy; developing countries that, like Brazil or India, have changed their alignments in recent years; and a hardcore led by oil producers that is betting heavily on slowing down initiatives until they know how to get out of the slingshot where they Are.
So long negotiations are expected, ads without too much content and a lot of staging. After all, much of what we will see these days is summed up in “internal consumption”: all the actors are aware of what is being played in Madrid and have very little incentive to get out of the pattern. Therefore, if we want to know what is going on, we will have to look at the most technical documents and strategic movements. Under the soporific grey of the summit surface, the actual game is played, we will be watching to see what is cooked.