Madrid — The Spanish are enjoying a four-day weekend, and the streets of downtown Madrid are packed with shoppers. To the point where police were blocking off entrances to the metro or key streets in an attempt at crowd control. The Christmas shopping season brings another phenomenon – the Christmas lottery – and hundred of people are lining up for a chance to win the big prize. The United Nations (UN) Climate Conference participants worked through Saturday as negotiators made some progress on some issues and little on others. Saturday, by and large, was a much quieter day, and Sunday was a day off.

The COP is gearing up for week two, with the opening of the high-level segment on Tuesday will feature COP25 President Carolina Schmidt, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa, the Spanish musician, singer and composer Alejandro Sanz, the Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Petteri Taalas, the President of the UN General Assembly Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, and Spanish Minister for Ecological Transition Teresa Ribera.

African negotiators looking for a fair deal — African negotiators say they are in a bit of a pickle. On the one hand, the continent is suffering from the impacts of climate change, in the form of water scarcity, droughts, floods, and even conflicts. It is estimated that the continent, which could lose between 2-9 per cent of its economy due to climate change, will warm more than two degrees more than the global average. However, Africa is responsible for only 4 per cent of global emissions, even though it has only 17 per cent of the global population. African negotiators say they are fully committed to the implementation of the Paris Agreement, based on what the science says. “Africa is there to play its fair share today”, said Tosi Mpanu-Mpanu of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, noting that major developed countries are not stepping up. “We are getting away from the common commitment to deliver on our promises.”

A more sustainable COP — There are a lot of ideas and viewpoints bandied about at conferences, and although the thrust of the discussion, the result has often been huge amounts of leaflets, booklets, flyers and paper, often ending up in the trash. So for COP25, UNFCCC, the Governments of Chile and Spain are working together to make the Conference as sustainable and climate-friendly as possible. This commitment comes on top of the enormous challenges the organizers have been facing with the relocation of such a major event at such short notice.

The Conference aims to be entirely carbon neutral, with unavoidable greenhouse gas emissions being offset through the purchase and cancellation of UNFCCC recognized offsets from projects that benefit local communities in impoverished areas.

All resources will be used responsibly and efficiently. Waste production, water and energy use will be reduced or avoided wherever possible, and materials will be reused or sorted and recycled where possible.

The Region of Madrid is planting trees in the names of COP25 participants.

The companies providing catering services have prioritized reusable cutlery, plates and cups and, when not possible, made from compostable materials. Compostable packaging material will be used in the grab-and-go-areas. All bags in the catering areas are made of paper and paper napkins are made from ecological paper. The Conference organizers are committed to providing mainly local (65-70% vegetarian) food during the COP.

To reduce paper use, all official documents are available in digital format and participants are able to download them from the UNFCCC website. Participants are encouraged to print and photocopy only what is unavoidable prior to and during the sessions. An important new feature to reduce the use of paper at COP25 are digital exhibit stands, which replace the traditional exhibition space.