Climate activists furious as compromise COP25 deal backed by superpowers

16 Dec 2019

Scene from COP25 in Madrid. Image: UNFCCC/Flickr (CC BY-ND 4.0) 

COP25 drew to a close after much debate, but activists both at the conference and around the world had a lot to say about its results.

While COP25 in Madrid set out to bring in more ambitious emissions reduction targets and a greater push towards renewable energy, the climate conference took an extra two days and nights to hash out a deal that many have criticised as not taking the climate crisis seriously.

According to the BBC, the concluding draft of the report said there was an “urgent need” to bring existing emissions pledges to within those set by the Paris Agreement back in 2015. However, many of the big decisions have been pushed out to the COP26 conference, which is to be held in Glasgow next year.

Despite significant pressure from the EU – following the announcement of the European Green Deal last week – as well as small island nations, many of the world’s largest countries refused to accept more ambitious targets. These nations included the US, China, India, Australia and Brazil.

The major nations that pushed out the conference an extra two days are in favour of carbon markets as a way of reducing the cost of cutting their emissions. In a compromise deal, these nations agreed to produce data to show they have been keeping their promises on emissions reductions prior to 2020.

Delegates ‘out of touch with reality’

Australia, in particular, was accused by some of “cheating” and using an “accounting loophole” by planning to use carry-over credits from the Kyoto agreement to meet its 2030 target set by the Paris Agreement.

Climate activists have been strongly critical of the outcome, with Friends of the Earth Europe saying the talks were “out of touch with reality”.

“This COP has been another chance lost to listen to the people on the streets demanding climate justice, and every missed opportunity closes the window for action and means more irreversible climate impacts around the globe,” said the group’s climate justice campaigner, Susann Scherbarth.

Time Person of the Year and climate activist Greta Thunberg said the talks showed “science is being ignored”, while UN secretary general António Guterres said the international community “lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation and finance to tackle the climate crisis”.

Greenpeace International’s head of delegation to the conference, Juan Pablo Osornio, said it was a “disappointing outcome” and a sign that the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) “cannot be the only place where politicians are held to account in confronting the climate emergency”.

“We need multilateral spaces to be free from the private-profit interests which keep on blocking us from a future we want and know is possible. Success relies on a broader set of financial, trade and development institutions that can unite for the systemic change that is required to deliver a global green deal,” he said.

Scene from COP25 in Madrid. Image: UNFCCC/Flickr (CC BY-ND 4.0)

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic