Statement by OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría on the outcome of COP 25

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UNFCCC UN Secretary-General António Guterres (centre) addresses the high-level meeting on Caring for Climate at the UN Climate Change Conference COP25 in Madrid.

This article is brought to you in association with OECD.


I am very disappointed that COP25 in Madrid did not achieve the decisive, collective and ambitious outcomes that the climate emergency demands from world leaders.

Despite the commendable efforts by Chile as Chair and the impressive work by Spain as host, this unsatisfactory result reflects the current geo-political context, the predominant focus on short-term national interests and a lack of trust among countries, but this is still no excuse for inaction. Urgent action is needed to rebuild the foundations for strong collective action if we are to avoid the rapidly increasing dangers of climate change.

One of the key goals of COP25 was to agree a solid and effective framework for carbon markets under the Paris Agreement. The failure to do so means that it will make it more difficult and more expensive for countries to reduce GHG emissions. Another area where progress was lacking was transparency – the fundamental element of the Paris Agreement needed to provide countries with the reassurance that others are living up to their promises.

Ambitious climate action by governments would deliver huge well-being benefits for their citizens, far outweighing the short-term costs. These benefits include improved air quality and health, more liveable cities, better jobs in cleaner industries, and more robust global value chains and food security. Most importantly: there is no other way forward. The clock is ticking and we are not rising up to what is needed in order to preserve the planet.

Climate finance remains critical for the success of our collective efforts. The commitment to provide USD 100 billion a year by 2020 made by developed country governments has both symbolic and substantive importance. Our most recent estimates show that the goal of USD 100 billion a year by 2020 is still attainable. But only if developed countries urgently step up their efforts to scale up public finance and improve the effectiveness with which this finance is used, and to mobilise private finance sufficiently in order to enhance resilience and capacity in the poorest and most vulnerable economies.

It is time to move from negotiation to ambitious action. I therefore welcome the agreement of the San José Principles for High Ambition and Integrity in International Carbon Markets, adopted by a group of leading countries in the margins of COP25. These principles will ensure that the use of carbon markets guarantees environmental integrity and strengthens overall mitigation efforts by participating countries.

I also welcome the launch of the Santiago Action Plan that sets out the actions needed to mainstream climate change in economic and financial policy. The OECD is proud to contribute to the work of the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action that is driving this agenda forward.

The OECD stands ready to support the current and incoming COP Presidencies to achieve the outcomes we need at COP26 in Glasgow to drive forward implementation in the crucial decade to come. It is time to conclude the negotiations and move on to action. Glasgow or bust!

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