COP25: the outcomes

31st January 2020

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Nick Blyth reports back from COP25, including headline outcomes and updates on IEMA's contributions

The executive secretary of UN Climate Change, Patricia Espinosa, has called for an honest assessment of what COP25 achieved, so that the international community can take appropriate measures to guide the multilateral climate process in 2020.

The conference did not result in agreement on guidelines for a carbon market – essential for raising the ambition that could harness the potential of the private sector and generate finance for adaptation. Developed countries are yet to fully address developing countries' calls for enhanced support in finance, technology and capacity building, without which they cannot green their economies and build adequate resilience to climate change. High-emitting countries did not send a clear enough signal that they are ready to improve their climate strategies and ramp up ambition through Nationally Determined Contributions.

“IEMA's presentation included survey outcomes on the challenge of 'net-zero'“

Urgency and ambition

Many have commented on the discrepancy between the slow pace of the talks and the urgency that the science suggests we need. The UN Environment Programme's emissions gap report showed that the stretch 1.5°C goal is 'slipping out of reach'. Under the Climate Ambition Alliance, 114 nations have indicated their intention to submit an enhanced climate action plan next year, showing that many are ready to move the needle on climate ambition.

In the final-decision texts, governments did express the need for more ambition by parties and non-state actors alike, and agreed to improve the ability of the most vulnerable to adapt to climate change. Many decisions that emerged at least acknowledge the essential role of climate finance. Detailed analysis can be found from sources such as Carbon Brief ( and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) website (


Away from the negotiations, important developments took place in events and meetings held by a range of 'non-party' stakeholders. IEMA is actively engaged, feeding in evidence and thought leadership from our membership. The UNFCCC webpage lists all the sessions.

There is a clear case for organisations to consider becoming carbon neutral now and then to transition towards 'net-zero'. IEMA's GHG Management Hierarchy is not sequential, and in a climate emergency context we will be amending the transition infographic to remove the phrase 'long-term'. At COP25, I found great interest in our work as I helped organise and present at an event on carbon neutral transitions and international standards (an ISO, IAF and IEMA COP25 event including guest presentations from UNFCCC and Costa Rica). IEMA's presentation included survey outcomes on the challenge of 'net-zero', with professional member insights ranging from Scope 2 GHG accounting practice to the effective use of carbon offsetting. IEMA members John Dora, FIEMA and Kit England, MIEMA were also in action, presenting in the EU and UK Pavilions on climate change adaptation developments.

The 'transition landscape' is diverse, with confusion around terms and many different approaches. A planned new ISO on carbon neutrality, starting in 2020, could help to clarify terms, support progress on transitions and improve practice. IEMA will feed evidence into these developments, contributing to the 'international action toolkit' called for by Patricia Espinosa and the 2016 Paris Agreement.

Nick Blyth, fiema is an IEMA policy lead.


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