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Équiterre at COP25: Priorities and expectations

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From December 2 to 13, the world is gathering in Madrid for COP25, under the presidency of the government of Chile. Caroline Brouillette, Équiterre’s climate change expert, is among the 25,000 participants seeking to ensure that countries work together to adopt ambitious and effective measures to keep global temperatures from rising by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, in a just and equitable manner.

What’s a COP?

“COP” stands for the “Conference of the Parties” to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), a framework for action on climate change that brings together nearly all the countries in the world. Since 1995, representatives of the parties that ratified the Convention meet once a year at the COP to negotiate and make decisions, and to ensure are follow up. The COP also hears from numerous groups of non-state actors: regional and local authorities, civil society, Indigenous groups, scientists, labour groups, businesses, youth, etc.

Context of COP25

Enhancing ambition: Four years after COP21, which paved the way for the Paris Agreement (during which governments committed to working towards limiting warming to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels), current efforts by the parties to curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have been insufficient in achieving this objective. To respond to the requirements of the Paris Agreement, the parties must announce an update of their GHG emissions reduction target (called “nationally determined contributions” - NDCs) every five years, which falls in 2020 at COP26. As of the moment when this text was written, 41 countries have stated their intention to update an NDC by 2020, and 68 countries have stated their intention to enhance the ambition of their NDC. Notable for their absence are the the major emitters, who account for a large proportion of global emissions. COP25 is an opportune time for such announcements to be made.

Climate justice and social equity: COP25 is taking place in a year when citizens throughout the world have taken to the streets to demand fairer and more inclusive policies. 7.6 million people marched during the Global Climate Strikes to demand ambitious and urgent climate action. We must ensure that the voices of youth, Indigenous groups, the Global South and labour unions are heard at COP25. Équiterre is also calling for respect for the core rights and freedoms of the citizens of Catalonia and of Spain, the COP25 host country.

>>> For the crucial technical considerations of COP25, see the box at the end of the page.

Équiterre’s priorities at COP25

The issues that we are following closely:

  • new NDC announcements and mechanisms to encourage enhanced ambition;
  • just transition;
  • international climate finance;
  • negotiations on Article 6, and its impacts on the Quebec-California carbon market;
  • regenerative agriculture as a solution to climate change

To learn more, have a look at Caroline's videos:


Équiterre is on the Canadian delegation at COP25 and is one of the few Canadian environmental groups that has access to the negotiations. We will be following these negotiations closely and reporting back to our Canadian colleagues from other organizations. Équiterre is also a resource for Quebec and Canadian media on COP25.

Our expectations of Canada

Canada’s current emissions reduction target of 30% below 2005 levels by 2030 is substantially insufficient to achieve the 1.5 °C objective. Canada must therefore show more leadership on the international stage by announcing more ambitious national reduction targets. The IPCC has established that to limit temperature increase to 1.5 °C, we must globally reduce emissions by 45% below 2005 levels by 2030, and get to zero net emissions by 2050. However, as one of the top 10 largest emitters in the world, Canada has a historic responsibility and the capacity to do more, and to do so more quickly.

We would like to see Canada:

  • Announce new GHG reduction targets for 2030 and 2050, integrated into a legislative framework, which are in line with the science and reflect the country’s historic responsibility;
  • Increase its contribution to international climate finance, which is currently substantially insufficient, to $4 billion US per year;
  • Take part in discussions on just transition and eliminating fossil fuel subsidies, elements to be integrated in Canada’s 2020 NDC;
  • Highlight the importance of the objective to limit planetary warming to 1.5 °C in a just and equitable manner;
  • Ensure that strong rules are adopted for Article 6 on carbon markets in order to maintain the environmental integrity, ambition and spirit of the Paris Agreement. Équiterre will be paying close attention to the rules defining “internationally transferred mitigation outcomes”, reiterating that low carbon emission exports do not free us from the responsibility to reduce our domestic emissions.
Our expectation of Quebec 

Quebec has previously distinguished itself as a federated state through its participation in international climate negotiations, notably through its carbon market with California and through its contribution to international climate finance. Quebec is well represented at the COP by representatives from government, business, trade unions, youth and civil society.

We would like to see Quebec:

  • Integrate the international priorities discussed at COP25, namely the need to completely decarbonize economies, into its Electrification and Climate Change Plan (ECCP), and revise its GHG emissions reduction target to bring it in line with international commitments;
  • Take part in discussions on just transition and reflect on how it applies in Quebec, particularly on the transport, industrial, agricultural and building sectors;
  • Continue to lead by example as a federated state contributing to international climate finance;
  • Ensure that the choices the province is currently making in energy infrastructure development reflect the climate emergency;
  • Ensure that Article 6 rules take into account the emission reductions achieved by our carbon market with California (the cap and trade system).

Follow the latest developments

Follow Équiterre on social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) for the latest news and our analysis of the progress made at COP25.

Our coverage of COP25

Online articles

Radio Interviews

Press releases and reactions

Équiterre has participated in UN climate conferences for over two decades - the only Quebec civil society organization to have been involved in international climate negotiations since the Berlin Conference in 1995. Our constant presence at these conferences and at specialized working groups sessions has helped position Quebec as one of the North American leaders on climate change.

Crucial technical considerations at COP25: At COP24 in Katowice, the parties finalized the rulebook for implementing the Paris Agreement. However, some key elements remain and are on the agenda for the COP25 negotiations, such as Article 6 on curbing emissions through carbon markets. It is important to ensure that the outcome does not undermine domestic climate ambition. At a time when the irreversible effects of the climate crisis are already being felt, negotiators will also be focusing on adaptation mechanisms to pay for the loss and damage incurred (the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage - WIM).