The Madrid Climate Talks Failed Spectacularly. Here's What Went Down

The Madrid Climate Talks Failed Spectacularly. Here's What Went Down Low ambition from polluting nations derailed the COP25 climate talks. Supplied by author

The United Nations’ COP25 climate talks concluded on Sunday morning in Madrid, almost 40 hours overtime. After two weeks of protracted talks meant to address the planetary warming emergency, world leaders spectacularly failed to reach any real outcomes.

The degree to which wealthy nations, including Australia, blocked progress on critical points of debate incensed both observers and country delegates.

These points included robust rules for the global trading of carbon credits, increased commitments for finance to help developing nations tackle climate change, and most importantly, raising ambition to a level consistent with averting catastrophic climate impacts.

The Madrid Climate Talks Failed Spectacularly. Here's What Went Down Australia’s Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor, far left, with other delegates to the COP 25. JUAN CARLOS HIDALGO

High hopes

COP25 was a conference of “parties”, or nations, signed up to the Paris Agreement, which takes effect in 2021. I attended the conference as an observer.

Emissions reduction targets of nations signed up to Paris put Earth on track for a 3.2℃ temperature increase this century. However the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says warming must be kept below 1.5℃ to avoid the most devastating climate impacts.

Much was riding on the outcome in Madrid. However, it failed to deliver.

One of the key agenda items was Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, involving international carbon trading between nations.

The previous COP in Poland failed to reach consensus on these trading rules, and after this latest meeting, many contentious issues remained unresolved. These include:

  • how to ensure that an overall reduction in global emissions is achieved and that the rules prevent double counting (or emissions reduction units being counted by both the buying and selling nation)

  • whether a levy would be applied to proceeds from carbon trading to finance adaptation in developing nations

  • the recognition of human and indigenous peoples’ rights, and social and environmental safeguards, given the harms caused by previous carbon trading mechanisms

  • critically for Australia, whether countries could use “carryover” carbon credits from the Kyoto Protocol to meet commitments under the Paris Agreement.

The Madrid Climate Talks Failed Spectacularly. Here's What Went Down An indigenous woman from Amazon reacts during COP25, which largely failed to deliver. JUAN CARLOS HIDALGO/EPA

The question of Kyoto credits

Australia was pushing to allow use of Kyoto Protocol units, for which it drew scathing criticism from other nations, international media and observers. It plans to meet more than half its Paris target via this accounting loophole.

Brazil, India, South Korea and China also want to carry over credits earned under the Clean Development Mechanism, a trading scheme under Kyoto.

No consensus was reached. The negotiations for rules for carbon markets will now continue at COP26 in Glasgow next year, just weeks out from the Paris Agreement’s start date.

The argument will not be easily resolved. Five of the last seven COP meetings failed to reach a decision on carbon market rules, indicating the extent of international divisions, and calling into question the disproportionate focus on carbon trading, given its limited ability to address climate change.

In Madrid, 31 nations signed up to the San Jose principles, seeking to ensure environmental integrity in carbon markets. Upholding these principles would mean emissions must go down, not up as a result of trading carbon.

The Madrid Climate Talks Failed Spectacularly. Here's What Went Down Steam rises a German coal-fired power plant. The COP25 failed to make progress on cutting emissions from coal and other sources. EPA/FRIEDEMANN VOGEL

Other failures

The conference also discussed measures to strengthen the governance and finance arrangements of the Warsaw International Mechanism, a measure designed to compensate poor nations for climate damage.

Little progress was made on mobilising finance from developed nations. The US, which will soon exit the Paris Agreement, played a key role in stymieing progress. It resisted efforts for broad governance arrangements, and pushed for language in the rulebook which would exclude high-emittiong nations from liability for the loss and damage experienced by vulnerable countries under climate change.

At Glasgow, all nations under Paris are required to submit new emissions reduction commitments. It was widely expected that the Madrid meeting would strongly urge nations to ensure these targets were more ambitious than the last. Instead, the final text only “reminds” parties to “communicate” their commitments in 2020.

The Madrid Climate Talks Failed Spectacularly. Here's What Went Down President of COP25, Carolina Schmidt (right), and UN official Ovais Sarmad. EPA/MAST IRHAM

‘Crime against humanity’

When the COP finally closed on Sunday morning, the meeting had failed to reach consensus on increasing emissions reduction ambition to the level required.

The results are disheartening. The world has let another chance slip by to tackle the climate crisis, and time is fast running out.

The implications of this were perhaps summed up best by the low-lying Pacific island state of Tuvalu, whose representative Ian Fry said of the outcome:

There are millions of people all around the world who are already suffering from the impacts of climate change. Denying this fact could be interpreted by some to be a crime against humanity.The Conversation

About The Author

Kate Dooley, Research Fellow, Climate and Energy College, University of Melbourne

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Related Books

Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming

by Paul Hawken and Tom Steyer
9780143130444In the face of widespread fear and apathy, an international coalition of researchers, professionals, and scientists have come together to offer a set of realistic and bold solutions to climate change. One hundred techniques and practices are described here—some are well known; some you may have never heard of. They range from clean energy to educating girls in lower-income countries to land use practices that pull carbon out of the air. The solutions exist, are economically viable, and communities throughout the world are currently enacting them with skill and determination. Available On Amazon

Designing Climate Solutions: A Policy Guide for Low-Carbon Energy

by Hal Harvey, Robbie Orvis, Jeffrey Rissman
1610919564With the effects of climate change already upon us, the need to cut global greenhouse gas emissions is nothing less than urgent. It’s a daunting challenge, but the technologies and strategies to meet it exist today. A small set of energy policies, designed and implemented well, can put us on the path to a low carbon future. Energy systems are large and complex, so energy policy must be focused and cost-effective. One-size-fits-all approaches simply won’t get the job done. Policymakers need a clear, comprehensive resource that outlines the energy policies that will have the biggest impact on our climate future, and describes how to design these policies well. Available On Amazon

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate

by Naomi Klein
1451697392In This Changes Everything Naomi Klein argues that climate change isn’t just another issue to be neatly filed between taxes and health care. It’s an alarm that calls us to fix an economic system that is already failing us in many ways. Klein meticulously builds the case for how massively reducing our greenhouse emissions is our best chance to simultaneously reduce gaping inequalities, re-imagine our broken democracies, and rebuild our gutted local economies. She exposes the ideological desperation of the climate-change deniers, the messianic delusions of the would-be geoengineers, and the tragic defeatism of too many mainstream green initiatives. And she demonstrates precisely why the market has not—and cannot—fix the climate crisis but will instead make things worse, with ever more extreme and ecologically damaging extraction methods, accompanied by rampant disaster capitalism. Available On Amazon

From The Publisher:
Purchases on Amazon go to defray the cost of bringing you InnerSelf.comelf.com, MightyNatural.com, and ClimateImpactNews.com at no cost and without advertisers that track your browsing habits. Even if you click on a link but don't buy these selected products, anything else you buy in that same visit on Amazon pays us a small commission. There is no additional cost to you, so please contribute to the effort. You can also use this link to use to Amazon at any time so you can help support our efforts.

 

enafarzh-CNzh-TWdanltlfifrdeiwhihuiditjakomsnofaplptruesswsvthtrukurvi

follow InnerSelf on

facebook-icontwitter-iconrss-icon

 Get The Latest By Email

{emailcloak=off}

LATEST VIDEOS

Methane Emissions Hit Record Breaking Levels
Methane Emissions Hit Record Breaking Levels
by Josie Garthwaite
Global emissions of methane have reached the highest levels on record, research shows.
kelp forrest 7 12
How The Forests Of The World’s Oceans Contribute To Alleviating The Climate Crisis
by Emma Bryce
Researchers are looking to kelp for help storing carbon dioxide far beneath the surface of the sea.
Tiny Plankton Drive Processes In The Ocean That Capture Twice As Much Carbon As Scientists Thought
Tiny Plankton Drive Processes In The Ocean That Capture Twice As Much Carbon As Scientists Thought
by Ken Buesseler
The ocean plays a major role in the global carbon cycle. The driving force comes from tiny plankton that produce…
Climate Change Threatens Drinking Water Quality Across The Great Lakes
Climate Change Threatens Drinking Water Quality Across The Great Lakes
by Gabriel Filippelli and Joseph D. Ortiz
“Do Not Drink/Do Not Boil” is not what anyone wants to hear about their city’s tap water. But the combined effects of…
Talking About Energy Change Could Break The Climate impasse
Talking About Energy Change Could Break The Climate Impasse
by InnerSelf Staff
Everyone has energy stories, whether they’re about a relative working on an oil rig, a parent teaching a child to turn…
Crops Could Face Double Trouble From Insects And A Warming Climate
Crops Could Face Double Trouble From Insects And A Warming Climate
by Gregg Howe and Nathan Havko
For millennia, insects and the plants they feed on have been engaged in a co-evolutionary battle: to eat or not be…
To Reach Zero Emissions Government Must Address Hurdles Putting People Off Electric Cars
To Reach Zero Emissions Government Must Address Hurdles Putting People Off Electric Cars
by Swapnesh Masrani
Ambitious targets have been set by the UK and Scottish governments to become net-zero carbon economies by 2050 and 2045…
Spring Is Arriving Earlier Across The US, And That's Not Always Good News
Spring Is Arriving Earlier Across The US, And That's Not Always Good News
by Theresa Crimmins
Across much of the United States, a warming climate has advanced the arrival of spring. This year is no exception.

LATEST ARTICLES

Two-thirds Of Glacier Ice In The Himalayas Could Be Lost By 2100
Two-thirds Of Glacier Ice In The Himalayas Could Be Lost By 2100
by Ann Rowan
In the world of glaciology, the year 2007 would go down in history. It was the year a seemingly small error in a major…
Rising Temps Could Kill Millions A Year By Century’s End
Rising Temps Could Kill Millions A Year By Century’s End
by Edward Lempinen
By the end of this century, tens of millions of people could die each year worldwide as a result of temperatures rising…
New Zealand Wants To Build A 100% Renewable Electricity Grid, But Massive Infrastructure Is Not The Best Option
New Zealand Wants To Build A 100% Renewable Electricity Grid, But Massive Infrastructure Is Not The Best Option
by Janet Stephenson
A proposed multibillion-dollar project to build a pumped hydro storage plant could make New Zealand’s electricity grid…
Wind Farms Built On Carbon-rich Peat Bogs Lose Their Ability To Fight Climate Change
Wind Farms Built On Carbon-rich Peat Bogs Lose Their Ability To Fight Climate Change
by Guaduneth Chico et al
Wind power in the UK now accounts for nearly 30% of all electricity production. Land-based wind turbines now produce…
Climate Denial Hasn't Gone Away – Here's How To Spot Arguments For Delaying Climate Action
Climate Denial Hasn't Gone Away – Here's How To Spot Arguments For Delaying Climate Action
by Stuart Capstick
In new research, we have identified what we call 12 “discourses of delay”. These are ways of speaking and writing about…
Routine Gas Flaring Is Wasteful, Polluting And Undermeasured
Routine Gas Flaring Is Wasteful, Polluting And Undermeasured
by Gunnar W. Schade
If you’ve driven through an area where companies extract oil and gas from shale formations, you’ve probably seen flames…
Flight Shaming: How To Spread The Campaign That Made Swedes Give Up Flying For Good
Flight Shaming: How To Spread The Campaign That Made Swedes Give Up Flying For Good
by Avit K Bhowmik
Europe’s major airlines are likely to see their turnover drop by 50% in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,…
Will The Climate Warm As Much As Feared By Some?
Will The Climate Warm As Much As Feared By Some?
by Steven Sherwood et al
We know the climate changes as greenhouse gas concentrations rise, but the exact amount of expected warming remains…