Youth Day — This year’s Youth Day at COP25 took on a greater prominence as youth have driven a global mobilization demanding greater climate action. The greater involvement of youth was recognized in September at the Youth Climate Summit in New York on 21 September. Jayathama Wickramanayke, the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, said work was moving along to further the outcomes of the Summit, including the Kwon-Gesh Pledge, which calls on youth to hold their governments and leaders accountable. There has been some success in countries such as Italy and Ireland. She said a new platform was being developed — “Reach Don’t Preach” that would further dialogue between youth in space, recognizing that some youth did not have the possibility to protest.
Displaced by climate change — More and more people are forced to leave their homes because of floods, tropical storms, droughts, melting glaciers, and other natural hazards. In May of this year, more than 3.4 million people were displaced by Cyclone Fani, one of the largest displacement events and the largest pre-emptive evacuation. Sometimes people move within their country; sometimes to another country. They are referred to as “climate refugee,” but that term is the subject of debate — there is no legal definition of such a refugee and there is no provision under international law that specifically affords them protection. The Paris Agreement established a panel to make recommendations regarding displaced persons, the Platform on Disaster Displacement, and these were provided to COP 24 last year in Katowice. But the issue will likely take on new importance now as countries look at the issue of “loss and damage,” including what to do for people who can’t go home again.
Sanjay Vashist, the Director of Climate Action Network South Asia, said people used to wait for the various seasons. Now they wait for disasters. “South Asia is seeing a lot more migration,” he said, adding that more areas are being hit by droughts and floods.
Carbon trading — One of the big issues in Madrid concerns finishing the unfinished business of writing the rulebook for implementing the Paris Agreement. The major point in contention concerns market mechanisms that could vastly boost incentives to reduce emissions. In the negotiations, it is called Article Six. To put a price on carbon is vital if we are to have any chance of limiting global temperature rise and avoiding runaway climate change. The UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that “Operationalizing Article Six will help get markets up and running, mobilize the private sector, and ensure that the rules are the same for everyone. Failure to operationalize it risks fragmenting the carbon markets and sends a negative message that can undermine our overall climate efforts.”
But many at the Conference say that while a good agreement can help drive emission reductions, a bad deal would be devastating. Among the pitfalls are loopholes, double counting, cheating and greenwash that can damage the credibility of the trading arrangement. The negotiations are presently taking place in small groups of countries and will intensify in the coming days.