At COP25, progressives around the world will again call for mechanisms to achieve climate justice and just transition. The poor should not have to pay the bill while the rich have the money to continue a wasteful lifestyle.

The European Parliament has declared a global climate emergency, as have many cities around the world. Indeed, the latest reports from the World Meteorological Organization show the dramatic situation for the ecosystem. The rise in global temperature is already about 1.1C and CO2 emissions are also growing –reaching a maximum of 37.7 gigatonnes in 2018.

“Too many short-sighted interests are creating hurdles and blockages for a climate-friendly policy”

The alarm bells should be ringing in the conference rooms of COP25 in Madrid. Between Rio 1992 and Madrid 2019 we have lost too much time in forcing a consensus that climate change is man-made. But there still seems to be a long way to go from awareness to action. Too many short-sighted interests are creating hurdles and blockages for a climate-friendly policy.

The European Union must play an active role in all the relevant problems to be solved at COP25. All countries need to raise their ambition for CO2 mitigation, and commit to a long-term strategy. The EU’s decision for carbon neutrality by 2050 will hopefully mobilise other partners to improve their nationally determined contributions (NDCs). The European Green Deal with a climate law for binding targets in all areas of the economy and society is a signal that Europe is not only uttering nice words but is committed to a model of sustainable development with deep transformations.

Climate justice and just transition

Climate justice applies to the crucial negotiation points in Madrid about financing, mitigation and adaptation, about compensation for loss and damage, and about capacity building with climate-friendly technologies and investments.

“COP25 should clarify the rulebook for Article 6 of the Paris Agreement for market-based mechanisms”

The greening of the financial markets is a fundamental instrument for a new type of investment. Public and semi-public financial institutions must transform themselves into ‘climate banks’, as the European Investment Bank (IEB) in Luxembourg is doing. But that is not enough. Private capital must be directed towards green investments. To this end, COP25 should clarify the rulebook for Article 6 of the Paris Agreement for market-based mechanisms. Renewable energy investments and reforestation projects, for example, should receive credits and attract investors. Loopholes like double-counting so-called ‘hot air’ must be avoided. New market instruments could channel more support to developing countries.

COP25 is a real test of the international community to save the atmosphere as a global common good. A great deal of time and credibility has already been lost. Madrid must send a message that at COP26 in Glasgow next year we will still be ready to limit global warming to well below 2C, at best to 1.5C –as climate science demands. Climate protection must be a priority project for progressives in the coming years. The New Deal needs to synchronise economic, social and ecological challenges at the same time. We are ready for the job!