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Climate change 18 Dec 2019

COP25: Taking stock of the conference in corporate and financial terms

Held in Madrid and with Chile presiding, COP25, has come to an end following nearly two weeks of intense debate, the presentation of reports on the threats of climate change and proposals to tackle the different challenges.

Amid a difficult climate change conference, especially due to the change of headquarters weeks before its launch, Europe can be proud of pushing for action like almost no other participating party. It did so in order to reach agreements that serve to stop the climate emergency, as reported in recent days by sources from the negotiation team. They noted that: “Some countries stick to the fine print in the Paris Agreement to avoid complying with its obligations until 2023.” COP25 ended without an agreement on the complex  Article 6 (which had not been completely addressed at previous Climate Change Conferences).

Issues related to emissions, commitments and science were all discussed throughout the summit at round table discussions, panels, debates and chats, as well as at the so-called “parallel events” organized by the United Nations and in the parties’ pavilions. Over the past two weeks, over 20 reports were presented in detail – many of which were written by official sources and distributed by organizations such as CCS Institute and Germanwatch, among others. The topics covered include carbon dioxide emissions, air quality, health care and tax policies, the carbon footprint from travel and freight transport, the status of the oceans and the Earth and food, among others.

“Mother Earth has told us that she is not doing well,” European Commission Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans said. “I am not concerned by the deniers. The science is irrefutable. I am more concerned by the group of people who are starting to feel desperate and think that we have lost. But this doesn’t have to be a disaster if we take action.”

The main COP25 agreements

The COP25 Chile – Madrid Climate Change Conference did not end until Sunday, December 15th. With the slogan, “Time for Action”, it laid the foundation for the countries to present more ambitious commitments to reduce emissions to address the climate emergency. The approval of Article 6, which refers to the regulation of carbon markets, was not completed. Carolina Schmidt, Minister of the Environment for Chile and president of this conference, reported that progress was made in the text for Glasgow, the next COP.

There are also several relevant facts worthy of mention in banking, financial and corporate terms:

  1. The EU presented its Green New Deal, which among other measures includes a commitment to climate neutrality in 2015 (passed by all Member States except Poland, which has asked to have until June to analyze how it can commit to this) and converting the European Investment Bank (EIB) into a “Climate Bank”, which will unlock one trillion euros of investment over the next decade. The EIB has announced that it will stop financing projects related to fossil fuels in 2021.
  2. Through the Spanish Banking Association (AEB), the Spanish Confederation of Savings Banks (CECA) and the Official Credit Institute (ICO), around twenty Spanish banks agreed to align themselves to the Paris Agreement.
  3. Company representatives have expressed their dissatisfaction with the lack of agreement for effective emission reduction, which they consider fundamental in order to raise aspirations. The number of large cities committed to climate neutrality by 2050 has increased from 100 at the New York Climate Change Conference to 398 at COP25. Negotiations will resume for intermediate negotiation sessions at the subsidiary bodies in Bonn in May and June and will continue at COP26.
  4. The number of investment funds committed to making their portfolios carbon neutral as soon as possible has doubled, increasing from portfolios totalling $2.4 trillion at the New York Climate Change Conference to $4 trillion at COP25.
  5. The number of multinational companies that have committed to being carbon neutral by 2050 has nearly doubled from 90 at the New York Climate Change Conference to 177 at COP25. These companies employ over 5.8 million people.
  6. The financial industry emerged as a fundamental actor, with numerous high level meetings, announcements, agreements and parallel events.

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