The longest ever Conference of the Parties (COP) climate talks has ended in utter failure. COP25, held in Madrid, has turned out to be a giant bust. As the conference limped to a close, the best that countries could muster was to adopt mild declarations calling for greater ambition in reducing emissions and helping poorer countries already impacted by climate change. This post is sourced primarily from several Commons Dream articles.
Climate Talks and COP25
The following tweets denounced the failure of climate progress at the COP25 talks. In the end, the main text of the declarations was stripped of any ambition—all that remains are meaningless words and hollow intentions.
“The only thing more disastrous than the state of UN climate negotiations at #COP25 is the state of the global climate,” tweeted Catherine Abreu, Executive Director of @CANRacCanada.
— Catherine Abreu (@cat_abreu) December 14, 2019
Chloé Farand in her tweet laments how countries are now “invited” to “communicate” about their climate plans, a far cry from the kind of commitment required to deal with the climate crisis.
Plenary is about to start at #Cop25. The latest text has been released this morning and all the language on ambition has been scrapped. Countries are now “invited” to “communicate” by 2020 their mid and long-term climate plans. No language to “update” or “enhance”. pic.twitter.com/GZ5WgOBGOl
— Chloé Farand (@ChloeFarand) December 14, 2019
Big Polluters control the narrative
The weak language that came out of the COP25 talks is no accident. It’s the result of a concerted effort by big polluters to control the road ahead for the Paris Agreement.
The 20 major emitters that account for approximately 80% of global emissions have stood nearly mute in Madrid. They’ve dithered over side issues and done absolutely nothing about the 800-pound gorilla in the room—the continually rising global emissions of greenhouse gases hurtling us toward catastrophe. The eyes of the world are squarely on them.
Civil society groups including the Center for Biological Diversity, Oil Change International, and Friends of the Earth, said that the deal that had been hammered out by the parties included an agenda brought by big polluters “straight to the halls of the U.N.” with the help of countries “historically most responsible for the climate crisis.”
“From the Amazon to the Arctic, our world is on fire. Allowing expansion of coal, oil and gas production at this moment of history is throwing gasoline on the fire.” —70+ civil society organizations
At the behest of fossil fuel corporations, they said, wealthy countries are insisting on using carbon markets to “offset” instead of cut emissions, and “nature based solutions,” which the civil society groups said is likely a euphemism for “large scale biomass burning, carbon storage technologies, the commodification of the ocean”—which will contribute to deforestation and displace food production.
“They can afford to run these big advertisements and have these meetings. Inside the conference, there is a sense of business-as-usual—that if we tweak things at the edges, we will be fine.
Mitchell Beer, curator for The Energy Mix, reports that “there was no doubt that fossil interests are still by far the dominant corporate voice. “They are inside government writing the rules, like the fossil fuel industry,” Greenpeace International Executive Director and COP veteran Jennifer Morgan said of the business representatives following the meeting.
Morgan added that “I have never seen the divide between what is happening between the inside of these walls and the outside so large.”
Helen Mountford from World Resources Institute, an environmental think-tank, said the talks “reflect how disconnected country leaders are from the urgency of the science and the demands of their citizens in the streets.”
“I’ve been attending these climate negotiations since they first started in 1991,” Alden Meyer, director of strategy for the Union of Concerned Scientists, told the BBC. “But never have I seen the almost total disconnect we’ve seen here at COP25 in Madrid between what the science requires and the people of the world demand, and what the climate negotiations are delivering in terms of meaningful action.”
Jamie Henn, the strategy director at the pressure group 350.org, said: “The level of disconnect between what this COP should have delivered and what it’s on track to deliver is appalling and is a sign that the very foundations of the Paris agreement are being shaken up. A handful of loud countries has hijacked the process and is keeping the rest of the planet hostage.”
“This is nothing less than a breakdown in the Paris Agreement. This is not climate leadership, this is a betrayal of humanity and future generations,” tweeted climate scientist Eric Holthaus.
“Submitting a climate plan is not good enough, it must be on a 1.5°C pathway,” says Sonam Phuntsho Wangdi of Bhutan, chair of the Least Developed Countries group. “Ambition has to be reflected in new climate plans, otherwise it has no meaning.”
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