The UN’s longest-ever climate summit Cop25 last weekend drew to a close after two additional days and nights of difficult negotiations.
The rift between a growing climate vanguard and a handful of countries obstructing progress meant countries failed to finalise the rules of the Paris Agreement (https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/the-paris-agreement/the-paris-agreement) at talks that finished on Sunday.
Ministers and diplomats in Madrid were under pressure to agree common rules to set up a global carbon market and signal their readiness to boost climate action ahead of a key summit in Glasgow, UK, next year.
The Chilean presidency wanted to use Cop25 (the UN’s 25th conference of the parties) to galvanise political leadership; Brazil, Australia and Saudi Arabia, defended loopholes and opposed commitments to enhance climate action. China and India insisted on the delivery of finance and support promised by rich countries before 2020 as a precondition to any discussion on enhancing their current targets.
Meanwhile, some European countries, emboldened by the demands of public and youth activists, joined a call by vulnerable countries to push for strong rules that would ensure the integrity of the Paris Agreement.
The next summit is Glasgow 2020. As part of its green deal for Europe, the European Commission said it would present a plan to enhance the bloc’s 2030 target to at least 55% by summer 2020. All member states but Poland also committed to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. But a failure to reach consensus on key issues weakened the final decision on ambition and pushed back a decision on carbon markets into next year.
Cop25 president Carolina Schmidt said “the new generations are waiting for more from us, we have the obligation of being up to this task”.
Under the Paris agreement, countries have to revisit their climate plans by 2020 but most are not compelled to enhance them.
But scientists and many citizens are calling for governments to act now, so next year is being viewed as a critical moment in holding warming at least below 2C.
Further push back from rich countries on commitments to provide long-term finance to the most vulnerable further crystallised the tension between the needs of developing countries to scale-up global efforts to address climate change and the rebuke of a few major economies.
That public pressure for stronger action – along with a huge diplomatic push – will be key for countries to hike their climate plans at next year’s climate talks in Glasgow.
The UK’s climate negotiator Archie Young said ‘We must take people with us as we all raise our ambition in the year ahead … countries must go further and faster”.
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