A silent year for climate diplomacy

Despite the presence of world-wide climate related disasters, climate diplomacy has not been at the forefront of the news this year. With no large climate conference taking place, danger looms that urgently needed action will be delayed even more. 

This year has not only seen what kind of damage a world-wide pandemic can cause, it also showcased some huge climate change related disasters. From forest fires in California, to monsoon floods in India and decreasing ice caps in Greenland, in many places all over the world the impacts of extreme weather events have been felt. These events are not new in their occurrence, but their severity can be unprecedented. It gives us a dark reminder of the challenge we face to deal with their current impacts, combined with the fact we are not on track to even prevent worse in the future. More global action to prevent greenhouse gas emissions is needed, and it’s needed quickly

Unfortunately, it has been far from a perfect journey for climate diplomacy recently. Last December in Madrid saw the 25th anniversary of the COP, but unfortunately there was not much to celebrate. Setting up rules for a global carbon trading system still hasn’t materialised and progress on loss and damage was minor, although small wins were seen in a gender action plan and a platform for local communities and indigenous people. However, the key issue at stake, more ambition to decrease emissions, was scarcely presented.

Moreover, the current complexity of meeting up in person also hampers the progress in essential conversations that need to take place. This year’s planned conference, COP 26, has been postponed, as the logical conclusion was drawn that it is impossible to organise these meetings in a safe manner now. This is even more unfortunate as it would have been the most important COP since 2015. COP 26 is the moment where all countries will collectively determine how ambition can be raised, as negotiations in previous years dealt more with working out the technical details of the Paris Agreement. Postponing these negotiations for another year seems like a dangerous, although understandable, delay.

In previous years, the COP’s were one of the highlights of the year for YES-DC. As an organization we have an official status as observers at the UNFCCC and this gave us the chance to watch the negotiations from close-by and network with many interesting parties. This year’s meeting won’t happen, but YES-DC will closely monitor the developments to be prepared to take part next year again. In previous years, in the weeks before the conference was taking place, we would organise a simulation game for our members to see how closely we would get ourselves to reach the climate targets. Despite the fact we can’t do this in person now, we will host an online negotiations game on the 19th of November. Stay tuned and read our newsletter for more details and to sign up for the event!