Madrid Climate Change Conference ends with disappointment

Press release 2019-12-16 at 15:35

The Madrid climate change conference ended with disappointment on Sunday afternoon. The only decision on the rules for the market mechanisms, which was the main topic, was a procedural one. This means the market mechanism rules will be discussed at the next conference in November 2020. There is now, however, a good basis for the discussions. The last days of the marathon conference were characterised by the Presidency being at a loss in how to manage the process and a lack of trust between the participating countries.

"There has never been a gap this big in the climate debate between negotiating rooms or what is happening outside of them. I regret that the international community was not able to respond more decisively to the citizens' climate calls and the message of science. Next year will be critical. We must all look in the mirror and consider how to restore faith in this process,” says Krista Mikkonen, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change.

No agreement on rules for the market mechanisms

In Madrid, the main objective of the EU and Finland was to reach agreement on rules for the use of international market mechanisms during the Paris Agreement, starting at the beginning of next year. It was known already in advance that the negotiations would be challenging, as Brazil has been very stringent about its position on the market mechanism rules. Although some progress was made, that happened too late to enable a well-balanced compromise. The EU stood firm behind the principles of the ParisAgreement and in the end said that a lack of market mechanism rules is better than poorly drafted rules.

The conference in Madrid succeeded in reaching agreement on the review of Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage. Funding and other support will be mobilized and channelled more effectively, especially to the most vulnerable developing countries and small island states. In addition, the countries agreed on the review of the Gender Workp plan and on the action plan of the International Indigenous Peoples’ Forum.

Progress in all issues was slow and halting throughout the two weeks of negotiations.

“The agenda, which was relatively technical, did not put enough pressure on the participating countries to deliver a good result in the negotiations. Moreover, the request by the Unites States to withdraw from the Paris Agreement also has a bearing, as it has joggled the dynamics between the countries. This had repercussions in the sense that issues related to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, from which the USA is not resigning, were also opened up for discussion, for example” said Outi Honkatukia, Chief Negotiator.

Next year crucial, the EU ready to update its own emissions reduction target

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, it is still possible to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, but emissions must peak very soon. Next year will be crucial for boosting ambition, because countries will update their commitments to reduce emissions before the next UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in November 2020.

In the second week of the Madrid Climate Change Conference, EU leaders agreed on a commitment to make the European Union climate neutral by 2050, and the European Commission published its Green Deal, according to which the Commission will table its proposal for a Climate Change Act already in March. The Commission's proposal of updating the EU's emissions reduction target to at least -50% is expected in summer 2020.

“These messages delivered were important ones also in Madrid, indicating that the European Union is serious about building its economy on a sustainable basis. But it is clear that the EU needs more countries on board to raise the level of collective climate ambition,” Minister Mikkonen says.

As holder of the Presidency of the Council of the EU, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Krista Mikkonen led the EU’s climate negotiations team, coordinated the countries' positions, and spoke at the Madrid meeting on behalf of the EU. Outi Honkatukia, Finland’s Chief Negotiator for Climate Change, negotiated on behalf of the EU on issues such as funding for climate action, capacity building and technology.


Riikka Yliluoma, Special Adviser to the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Ministry of the Environment, tel. +358 50 414 1682,

Outi Honkatukia, Chief Negotiator for Climate Change, Ministry of the Environment, tel. +358 50 341 1758,

Marjo Nummelin, Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of the Environment, tel. +358 295 250 227,

Karoliina Anttonen, Senior Officer, Legal Affairs, Ministry of the Environment, tel. +358 504 362 795, karoliina.anttonen (international market mechanisms)

Riikka Lamminmäki, Head of Communications, Ministry of the Environment, tel. +358 50 5762604,