2020: the climate to come

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From the COP25 in Madrid some useful indications to look forward to next year, to main topics of the negotiations, to the twelve months that already look like a period in which climate science will have a lot to say to political decision-makers, public opinion, students, teachers, and to the media.

From Madrid to Glasgow, via Milan. 2020 is just around the corner as a year in which climate change will be very much on the agenda. Important decisions expected at COP25 in Madrid have in fact been postponed to COP26, which will be held next November in Glasgow and the route from Spain to Scotland stops in Italy.

At the Madrid conference, Minister Costa announced that Italy will actively participate in the organization of COP26 (in partnership with the United Kingdom). Moreover, in October Milan will host the PreCOP, the preliminary event that defines in detail the agenda of the conference that takes place the following month. In the framework of this international meeting, the Italian government has decided to set up the Youth COP, the climate conference dedicated to young people. Announcing these decisions, Minister Costa stressed that they arise from the desire to integrate the role of the younger generations within the decision-making process of international climate negotiations. It is a very important and innovative step, said the Minister, who puts the dissemination of climate science, the understanding of the content produced by research – in a few words: climate literacy – at the core of the relationship between young people, climate change, and what policymakers will be able to achieve in terms of concrete actions to implement the Paris Agreement.

2020 is also the year to which the outcome of the Madrid COP refers on a number of important decisions. The Spanish conference should have been an important step in completing the work on the “Paris Agreement Rulebook”, the manual needed to implement the agreement in an operational way from 2020 onwards. More in detail, a critical topic in the negotiating process was the Article 6 on the regulation of carbon markets, but relevant points also concerned the timing of the commitments of individual countries in reducing GHG emissions and the transparency of information and details that should be included in the documents that each country will have to produce to ensure the periodic reporting on the impacts of their actions. A complex work indeed. The Madrid conference did not accomplish its original aims, it postponed all the outcomes to 2020 and gave COP26 the task of addressing and resolving many controversial issues.

Another important topic was addressed during the negotiation in Madrid: the revision of the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) for the implementation of integrated approaches aimed at tackling the damage and losses associated with the impacts of climate change. One of the most controversial issues concerned on how to strengthen financial support in this area. The session ended with the decision to establish an expert panel, the WIM Executive Committee, to analyze the issue in detail, and a network (“Santiago Network”) to facilitate technical support to the most vulnerable countries.

There are many open questions ahead of 2020, a year that is full of events and issues to be resolved for climate policies, a year in which climate change will be the protagonist on many operational tables, not least the table of the European Commission and the Green New Deal. 2020 will be a year in which, on the eve of the publication of the Sixth Assessment Report of the IPCC, climate science will still be called upon to present the research outcome and to try to explain in a way that is required to be as clear and communicative as possible.

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