COP25: Energetics' Insights direct from Madrid

Author Dr Peter Holt, Dr Mary Stewart

Date November 2019

Energetics will be on the ground representing Australian business and industry at COP25 in Madrid from 2 - 13 December 2019. 

CEO of Energetics, Dr Mary Stewart, and General Manager - Policy and Strategy, Dr Peter Holt will be attending UNFCCC's 25th Conference of Parties (COP25) which is expected to deliver on several matters related to the full operationalisation of the Paris Climate Change Agreement. 

Both Mary and Peter will be reporting their observations from the COP25 proceedings via social media and on this page.

You can follow Dr Mary Stewart on LinkedIn and Twitter and Dr Peter Holt on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Check back here regularly for highlights on discussions, details on what is being achieved (or not) and what it means for Australian business, industry and the country in general.


Day 4 - Thursday 5 December, 2019

 Dr Mary Stewart on LinkedIn

Such divergent views on everything. Today seemed to be one of contrasts, the three which I have really noticed are:

a) just how scary the IPCC forecasts for Oceans and Cryosphere are, and in contrast to the Land report, there is no relief or mediation of the risks through changing how we farm for example, all was can do is reduce emissions a lot and fast.

b) how many people here want to talk ambition, this is the focus of the Chilean presidency of the COP, when really all I am hoping for is an Article 6 resolution which is not too weak.

c) business would like a resolution on Article 6, even if it’s weak, civil society feel no deal is better than a bad deal.

Time will tell where we land on the last two, and really we just need to act, because we are running out of time. Hopefully the next week of the COP resolves some of these.



Day 3 - Wednesday 4 December, 2019

 Dr Mary Stewart on LinkedIn

It’s starting to feel like I’m in a bubble. You get to that point in the COP when you start to feel like all the players are doing what they are supposed to inside their own little bubble, a bit like the pro-nuclear pandas inside their inflatable suits. But COPs are always there to surprise.

The first people operating outside their bubbles seem to be the IPCC who are speaking more clearly about what they do and how. It was refreshing to understand their aims to not be policy directive but to be policy relevant. The care taken in their approach to ensuring diversity in their authors was great to hear. A clear value add to the UNFCCC process and a group of people who work really hard to deliver great work. Their special report on Land discussed in a shared session with the SBSTA today is a case in point.

The other bubble that seems to be changing shape is the negotiation process for Article 6. To be fair the same people have been arguing and disagreeing about the same stuff for two years so it was refreshing to hear that they are trying a new approach to informal informals, hopefully it will deliver a clean set of options to the presidency on Monday as planned. The negotiators seem very invested in delivering a result this time. timeforaction


Day 2 - Tuesday 3 December, 2019

  • Watch out for the European new Green Deal in 10 days, which will encode the transition to carbon neutrality into law; will include consideration of trade adjustments.
  • A lot of current NDCs were rushed and need more work, they have the opportunity in the next year to enhance quality in these NDCs and increase ambition. Aiming to set countries up for long term success. 65 countries have requested help so far. Limited number of countries with plans (3% with real plans, 24% considering) for increasing ambition in NDCs.
  • Climate action is being linked with responses to SDGs and a focus on equality. Countries are improving data, developing targets and embedding NDCs in long term strategies and plans.
  • Why enhance NDCs? A focus on opportunities, avoiding lock in effects, taking advantage of new technology, most importantly, seizing the opportunity for economic growth and development that the NDCs represent.
  • Potential areas of focus in forests, power and transport is not surprising. “Boosting yields of crops and livestock through sustainable intensification can reduce emissions per unit of good produced and greatly relieve pressure on the world’s remaining forests.” This line in agriculture is important highlighting the synergy between adaptation and mitigation in agriculture, the start of real adaptation action.
  • Session on generating trust in carbon markets, insights from research. Aim of carbon markets is to make emissions reductions cheaper which should support ambition in NDCs.
  • Challenges observed under Kyoto include considerations of additionality which can differ between countries, perverse incentives, and system gaming in many guises. Need to make sure problematic units from Kyoto are not carried forward.
  • A stringent baseline does not always stop additionality, building a list of technologies is a challenge as the list is static and economics are dynamic, further it is possible to game the system, so auditors need to play a bigger role. A single mistake can be multiplied.
  • Markets need to drive reductions in emissions, not just allow emissions in one place to be offset elsewhere. We need a real reduction in emissions not just have something on paper which makes no difference to the atmosphere.
  • Bridging the Fossil Fuel Gap moderated by @SEIclimate, hearing from the NZ Climate Change Division about a just transition from fossil fuels for a region in NZ. Looking at people and jobs, innovation in new energy, also facilitating private sector investment in hydrogen. Importance of innovation, economic diversification and engagement with peoples. Well being of all New Zealanders is central to this process. The just transition process will be extended to sectors beyond fossil fuels.
  • UNEP Climate Change Coordinator highlighting the size of the challenge, 7.6% reduction year in year. Phasing out fossil fuels is central to achieving this. Need to start to forecast this in NDCs and include it in policy. UN Secretary General Special Envoy comments, reduce subsidies to fossil fuels and direct taxes to the right place. Will be increasing pressure on G20 members to attend to this. Would also like to understand what the options are for governments, industries and workers.
  • Adaptation and NDCs, including adaptation in NDCs is voluntary but most countries include it. National Adaptation Plans are for around 30 years of planning, so they are long term. Biennial Transparency Reports allow countries to disclose what has changed every 2 years. NAP has been included to give adaptation the focus it requires relative to mitigation.
  • Stocktake report on buildings and emissions to be launched next week by UCL and its CREDS research division.
  • NDCs are a good opportunity to drive efficiency in buildings forward. Note new publication Business models for green buildings: real estate actors around the globe show the way (Programme for energy efficiency in buildings- PEEB) which is available for download.


Day 1 - Monday 2 December, 2019

  • Listening to the #IETA discussion on Article 6 really makes me think that in the final negotiations there is going to be a trade off between double counting of offsets and parties being able to carry over Kyoto credits. There may be more emphasis on eliminating double counting.
  • Is it still the case that no deal is better than any deal? We need to arrest emissions in the next 10 years, anything that puts this at risk is not tenable. One of the opinions from the panel, not sure it’s held by all
  • The bottom line is that we don’t want to spend the next 10 or 15 years trying to fix what we got wrong. There is not black or white in this area. Negotiators are not expecting to sleep much.
  • Is there a role for the purchaser to be pickier about what they buy as opposed to getting the rules completely right. Much of the private sector doesn’t want to buy offsets that are double accounted, even without the rules being right we might get the outcomes we need


  • The Chilean president of the COP opening the session and calling for real action on climate change. Joined by Christina Espinosa, Antonio Guiteras, and Nancy Pelosi on the stage. Looking forward to successful conclusion of Article 6 negotiations. #COP25 #TimeForAction
  • President of the IPCC “we are in crisis” we are increasingly reaching the limits of adaptation, there is an immediate need to curtail emissions
  • The world will suffer from stranded assets, food security will be threatened, financial institutions face increasing uncertainty
  • Many adaptations pathways are feasible under low emissions pathways only, we need an immediate and urgent change in trajectory. Look out for two new reports from IPCC later this week, on land and oceans
  • We are not doing anywhere near enough to address climate change

  • This would have been a boring COP if is wasn’t for the need to resolve Article 6. First BINGO briefing of the COP. Still@some challenges in transparency etc, but Article 6 is one step behind on negotiations. This is the most challenging task for this COP. #COP25 #TimeForAction
  • The other task of this COP is to set up the work for COP26 at which parties are expected to increase their ambitions in NDCs.
  • We are pretty much in the same position on the negotiation of Article 6 as we were in Katowice, the only difference is that the parties understand each other’s positions, and may be better informed. The same issues from Katowice remain to be solved.
  • Follow the progress of negotiations through the SBSTA sessions in the first week where technical aspects will be negotiated. Expecting a first draft on Wednesday and a second on Friday. Expecting an additional 2 days of negotiations for Article 6.