COP25: frustration and civil demonstrations

2019, year of civil unrest outside and inside COPs...


COP25 was moved last minute to Madrid due to civil unrest in Chile (where it was originally planned): this allowed SYFC’s delegation to participate in it, being able to reach the venue by train and bus. This COP was fundamental to enhance Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) up to 2025 for all countries and to finalize the guidelines (the so-called “Katowice work program) defining how to implement the Paris Agreement.

As a consequence of the youth mobilization all over the world in 2019 and the attention that the media gave to the issue of climate change, the expectation was that at this year’s COP we would have seen some relevant progresses. This hasn’t been the case. One more time, some parties showed their unwillingness to act to fight climate change, by blocking very crucial negotiations.

For this reason, frustration grew amongst people, which felt that a lot was promised but in reality demands were not really considered. This frustration emerged in many demonstrations around the venue. Demonstrations on such a big scale were a novelty for the international negotiations. The main aim of the protesters was to highlight the lack of accountability of rich countries, and to show solidarity with the indigenous people, who are particularly vulnerable to climate change and poorly integrated in formal political processes. 

SYFC’s delegates could experience both some positive and some negative aspects of being at a COP. On one side, they could meet and exchange ideas with important stakeholders such as the Vice-president of the European Commission Frans Timmermans, the Swiss negotiators, and many important representatives from other countries and minorities. However, on the other side, our members felt frustrated from the inconclusiveness of the process, where 48 hours of delays in the negotiations made COP25 conclude with way fewer progresses on the table than expected.