COP25: Outcomes lack urgency and ignore girls’ voices

17 DECEMBER 2019

Plan International is disappointed by the outcomes of COP25 which lacked urgency, ambition and a focus on human rights.

The outcomes of COP25 fail to recognise the urgency of the global climate emergency with key decisions deferred until next year. There is a total disconnect between what science demands, what youth activists are calling for and what the negotiations achieved.

This will have a huge impact on the lives of girls from disadvantaged communities who are among the worst affected by climate change and its impacts such as migration.

Many of the highest polluting countries refused to own up and pay up for their historical responsibility in creating the climate emergency, especially regarding loss and damage, while there was also refusal to agree to the ambition needed to meet the 2015 Paris Agreement. 

Girls’ voices ignored

Plan International is particularly disappointed that countries have not committed to including children and young people in the revision of their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), countries’ plans that explain how they will meet agreed global targets on emissions and adaptation. 

Children are powering the global climate justice movement and there was a significant youth presence at COP25, yet their voices are unlikely to be included in nations’ plans which must be updated by the end of 2020.

This is despite new research by Plan International, Brookings Institution and UNICEF highlighting that children and youth are only mentioned in 42% of the current NDCs, while just 7.5% see children as agents of change and only 4% value children as stakeholders in decision making.

Marinel, a youth activist from the Philippines who was at COP25 said “Adults are always telling us they know what’s best for us, but if they did, why are we facing this future they’ve created?.”

Human rights roll back

Plan International is also disappointed by the overall roll back on human rights language in the outcomes of COP25 which threatens to undermine the Paris Agreement. As a result, governments are failing to fully recognise the social implications of climate change and respond to the risks faced by the most vulnerable. 

The general roll back of human rights language is deeply worrying

This will have a profound impact on the lives of vulnerable girls who already suffer increased discrimination as a result of climate change. 

For instance, our research shows that only one NDC currently mentions girls’ education despite its importance in responding to the climate crisis, for every additional year of schooling a girl receives, her country’s resilience to climate disasters improves.*

This is a significant gap in the response to climate change. Plan International calls on all governments to include girls’ education in the review of their NDCs.

Gender Action Plan a positive step

However, Plan International welcomes the adoption of a revised Gender Action Plan which references human rights, the just transition to a green economy and the promotion of girls’ leadership and participation in science, research, development and technology. 

Governments must now implement the Gender Action Plan to ensure girls and women have opportunities to take up climate leadership roles now and in the future and to deliver climate action that will also advance gender equality.

Reflecting on COP25, Jessica Cooke, Plan International’s Resilience and Climate Change Specialist said “COP25 did not deliver the action and ambition young people are calling for. The general roll back of human rights language in all articles being negotiated is deeply worrying and threatens to undo the very core of the Paris Agreement. This is particularly disappointing when each COP should be more progressive and ambitious. We must continue pushing to protect and uphold the rights of girls already on the frontline of the climate crisis.”

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