Minister Mikkonen: The clock is ticking, so we must swiftly pick up the pace of climate action
Glasgow climate change conference introduces new tools for limiting global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees
Completed late on Saturday, the Glasgow Climate Change Conference has successfully reinforced commitment to the objectives of the Paris Agreement.
Countries were urged to update their emission reduction targets and long-term low-carbon development plans by as soon as next year. Progress towards the 1.5 degree target set in the Paris Agreement will be reviewed on an annual basis in future.
“The decision keeps the 1.5 degree target within our reach. The clock is ticking, and the next few years will be crucial. This is why we need to keep up continual pressure to improve climate measures specifically in the 2020s, and this latest decision to require annual updating will do that”, explains Krista Mikkonen, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change.
After more than five years of work, the Conference completed the rules of the Paris Agreement, which Minister Mikkonen views as evidence that the countries of the world can work together to find solutions for combating the climate crisis.
Room for improvement remains in rules governing market mechanisms
The rules of the Paris Agreement were now completed with rules on international market mechanisms. These rules seek to prevent counting of the same emission reductions towards the national targets of more than one country, and to ensure that emission reduction projects are additional to other measures. The compromise achieved nevertheless still allows limited use of old emission reduction units earned under the Kyoto Protocol until in 2030. The European Union and Finland advocated an alternative that would have entirely prohibited the use of units from the previous period towards Paris Agreement commitments.
“While the rules of the mechanism are far from perfect, they do enable us to avoid double counting. The outcome enables the development of market-based emission reduction solutions between countries, with implementation no longer solely dependent on the voluntary carbon market. Many details still need to be worked out later”, observes Ministerial Adviser Tuomo Kalliokoski.
Unprecedented funding pledges for developing countries to adapt to climate change
Adapting to climate change was a more prominent agenda item in Glasgow than at previous climate change conferences. Countries announced pledges to the Adaptation Fund amounting to an unprecedented USD 356 million, in support of adaptation to climate change. Developed countries made a commitment to double their financial contributions to developing countries for climate change adaptation from 2019 levels by the year 2025, and to seek an increase in the share of financing for climate change adaptation to half of all public climate financing. The countries also agreed that five per cent of sales revenues generated through the international market mechanism would be transferred to the Adaptation Fund.
“It is unfortunate that the pre-Paris firewall remains in funding, with obligations solely for developed countries”, says Outi Honkatukia, a lead negotiator for climate finance for the EU.
The countries agreed on the next steps for determining the climate change finance target for public and private funding after 2025. The Santiago Network of Experts on Climate Change Damage and Loss will be strengthened. Developed countries were also urged to finance its work. This will be discussed in greater detail at future conferences.
A two-year Glasgow–Sharm el-Sheikh work programme seeks to give substance to the global adaptation goal. The Paris Agreement imposes a clear numerical target only for tackling climate change.
“Measuring emission reductions is easy, but we have no indicators for successfully adapting to climate change. We are now working together to correct this failing”, explains Minister Mikkonen, who negotiated on adaptation issues on behalf of the European Union.
Reporting rules ensure that countries communicate their actions and emissions transparently and consistently
The parties also agreed on the tables whereby countries will report their emission trends, their actions and their financing. The rules also strengthen and clarify reporting of emissions and actions in developing countries. Support was promised for developing countries in meeting their reporting obligations.
Future national emission reduction commitments should be issued in a commensurable way. The target year for the nationally determined contributions to be communicated in 2025 should be the same for everyone: 2035. This will also facilitate monitoring and assessment in achieving the common objective, and five-yearly reviews under the Paris Agreement.
“We shall have a clearer idea of the pace of progress towards our goal when all countries report their emissions in a uniform and transparent manner”, says Marjo Nummelin, Finland’s Chief Negotiator for Climate Change.
First UN reference to decarbonisation, role of nature conservation and ecosystem restoration highlighted
The countries pledged to accelerate decarbonisation and to end inefficient fossil fuel subsidies. The decision also emphasises the role of nature conservation and ecosystem restoration in achieving the objectives of the Paris Agreement.
“This is the first time that decarbonisation has been mentioned in a UN text. It is an important signal, even if we had hoped for a stronger pledge. I also consider it important that the decision highlights nature conservation and restoration. The climate and environmental crises cannot be solved as separate issues – this should also be acknowledged ahead of the major biodiversity conference in Kunming”, Minister Mikkonen observes.
Besides its final conclusions, the Glasgow conference published a series of initiatives to reduce emissions. The subjects of the initiatives and declarations joined by Finland include halting deforestation, and reducing emissions from transport and emissions of methane gas. These initiatives support international efforts to reduce emissions and encourage countries to ramp up their own national commitments.
The next Climate Change Conference will be held one year from now in Egypt.
Chief Negotiator for Climate Change
tel. +358 29 525 0227
Special Adviser to Minister Mikkonen
tel. +358 50 414 1682
Financing climate action
Head of Climate Unit
tel. +358 50 341 1758
International market mechanisms
Special Ministerial Adviser
tel. +358 29 525 0053
Requests for interviews with the minister and negotiators
Head of Communications
tel. +358 50 576 2604