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News > World

US, Australia, and More Snub Calls for Climate Action at COP25

  • A woman carries her luggage past a sign of the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Madrid, Spain, December 14, 2019.

    A woman carries her luggage past a sign of the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Madrid, Spain, December 14, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 16 December 2019

The issues will be readdressed at the COP26 in Glasgow next year.

The United Nations climate summit taking place in Madrid concluded Sunday with great disappointment over shortcomings in other areas of the final text approve by negotiators.

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Representatives signed off on a text asking countries to boost their commitments to reducing greenhouse gases in 2020 but other topics, such as carbon market regulation, went unresolved as the COP25 concluded two days over schedule.

The country performances within the framework of the Paris Agreement, which looks to stop global temperatures rising more than 1.5-celsius degree above preindustrial levels, will also be reviewed next year.

Yet for The U.N.’s Secretary-General Antonio Guterres "the international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation, and finance to tackle the climate crisis.” “But we must not give up, and I will not give up.”

Diplomats have listed Australia, Brazil, China, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and the United States among those resisting bolder action.

Challenges include Brazil's insistence on a carbon accounting approach others say is baffling and Australia's insistence on carrying over old credits to meet its Paris emissions targets, which others see as an accounting trick.

Brazil and developing countries, in turn, accused the European Union and other industrialized economies of stymieing progress on financial aid for poorer countries, saying they could not be more ambitious on their climate goals unless they received more assistance.

The final document adopted by delegates at the COP25, called Chile-Madrid Time For Action, says countries must present more ambitious ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (the so-called Nationally Determined Contributions) in the face of the climate emergency.

According to the text, scientific facts must be used as the basis of policymaking on climate.

Participants have also agreed to provide guidelines to the Green Development Assistance Fund to expand financing and, in addition to addressing mitigation and adaptation, allocate resources to cover losses and damages in countries most exposed to the impacts of the climate crisis.

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Although tentative progress was made in that regard, the carbon market regulation stipulations will have to wait for Glasgow. Environmental groups lamented the gap between demands from civil society and the “inaction” demonstrated by governments in the negotiations in Madrid.

“COP25 was a success for the fossil fuel industry,” May Boeve, executive director of the 350.org group, said in a statement. “This was the only real benchmark for success, and on this important test, once again, politicians have failed us.”

The summit in Madrid, where it was held last minute due to social unrest in Chile’s capital, Santiago, was viewed as a preparatory step for the COP26 set to take place in Glasgow next year. The delay at COP25 stemmed from divisions in the plenary meeting.

Some countries, led by the European Union, argued that it was important by the end of 2020 that all Paris Agreement-aligned countries upwardly revise their commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.​​​​​​​ But other nations, including Brazil, China, and India, were resisting calls to commit to much more ambitious emissions cuts.

Although data from 2014 to 2017 suggested global annual emissions of carbon dioxide had roughly stabilized, data from the Global Carbon Project reported a further annual increase of 2.7 percent and 0.6 percent in 2018 and 2019, respectively, according to the Our World in Data website.

It also notes that the United States – which under President Donald Trump has begun the process of withdrawing from the Paris Agreement – has contributed the most to global CO2 emissions to date.

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