Even the star-studded presence of Greta Thunberg and Harrison Ford couldn’t save the U.N. Climate Change Conference.
The annual climate fest was widely panned as a failure after wrapping up Sunday with no agreement on hot-button issues such as the Green Climate Fund, an international carbon market, “common metrics” for measuring non-CO2 emissions, and reimbursement to poorer nations for “loss and damage caused by man-made climate change.”
“I am disappointed with the results of #COP25,” tweeted U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, referring to the conference’s official name, the 25th Conference of the Parties.
After two weeks, delegates from about 200 countries could only agree that there is an “urgent need” to cut greenhouse-gas emissions to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris agreement, despite pressure from activists who swarmed the Madrid gathering.
“The international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation & finance to tackle the climate crisis,” Mr. Guterres said. “But we must not give up, and I will not give up.”
Those tricky issues will be pushed next year to COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, but skeptics said there’s no reason to believe developed nations will adhere to a pledge to sink $100 billion into a fund to help developing countries adapt to climate change.
“The failure of COP25 to agree the thorny issue of climate finance doesn’t come as a surprise. In fact, we have been predicting this decade-old stalemate to continue,” said Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Forum in London, calling it “highly unlikely that the $100 billion deadlock can be overcome.”
In a tweet, Cuban diplomat Bruno Rodriguez blamed a “lack of political will of industrialized countries. They try to put the burden on developing countries. Capitalism is unsustainable. Human species is faced with the risk of extinction.”
Meanwhile, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, a supporter of President Trump, took a dig at the international community for its criticism over annual fires in the Amazon.
“I’d like to know: has there been a resolution for Europe to be reforested, or are they just going to keep bothering Brazil?” he asked, as reported by the BBC.
Not surprisingly, the Trump administration was blamed in part for the conference’s failure after the U.S. delegation was accused of blocking language on liability for climate “loss and damage.” The U.S. is also scheduled to exit the Paris agreement in 11 months.
“If the United States is not backing an agreement that is meaningful it is extraordinarily difficult for the rest of the world to come to an agreement,” said Sir David King, a British representative. “And I’m afraid as long as we have President Trump in the United States with President Bolsonaro in Brazil it is extraordinarily difficult to get all of those countries to agree.”
The conference, which began Dec. 2, notched a few smaller victories, including adopting a five-year “gender action plan,” which seeks to “advance knowledge and understanding of gender-responsive climate action.”
The European Union also announced the adoption of the European Green Deal, which seeks net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, despite an opt-out from Poland, which said it plans to reach “climate neutrality at its own pace.”
Greta, a 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, tweeted that it “seems like #cop25 in Madrid is falling apart right now. The science is clear, but the science is being ignored. Whatever happens we will never give up. We have only just begun.”