The COP25 United Nations climate summit in Madrid, Spain, ended in a monumental failure Sunday, December 15, 2019, after negotiators failed to agree to a deal that would limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. This was a key goal of the Paris Agreement. Scores of civil society groups condemned governments in the European Union, Australia, Canada and the United States for a deal that requires far less action than needed to avert catastrophic climate change.
Alden Meyer, the strategy chief at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said, “Never have I seen the almost total disconnect we’ve seen here at COP25 in Madrid between what the science requires and what the climate negotiations are delivering in terms of meaningful action.”
Ian Fry, the climate negotiator for the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu, whose existence is threatened by rising sea levels due to global warming, called out the United States, which worked to water down the final agreement even though President Trump is withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Agreement.
IN THIS ISSUE:
GRETA THUNBERG CALLS ATTENTION TO THE URGENT CLIMATE CHANGE DANGERS - DEEP WITHIN THE PAGES OF THE UN REPORT - THAT CLIMATE SCIENTISTS MENTION AT THE RISK OF LOSING THEIR FUNDING
MADRID — A tense round of international negotiations over the future of global action on climate change was running into overtime on Friday night, and some negotiators say the current round of talks may not result in an agreement at all. And part of the holdup is coming from the United States.
The United Nations meeting known as COP25 will likely run into the weekend as the future of the 2015 Paris climate agreement hangs in the balance.
“We only have a few hours left to come to an agreement,” Andrés Landerretche, COP25 presidency coordinator, said at a Friday press conference. “We’re going to remain on the premises as long as it takes.”
“The overall assessment is, this is not a good situation,” Seyni Nafo, the former chair of the African Group of Negotiators on climate change, told reporters on Friday. “Not having a decision on some of those issues might be better than having a bad decision.”
One big hurdle is the set of rules around creating an international carbon market under Article 6 of the Paris agreement. Most countries agreed on the guidelines, and negotiators have been reluctant to name the holdouts. But on Friday, Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, Costa Rica’s minister for energy and environment, called out the United States, Brazil, and Australia as the parties thwarting closure on the issue.
These carbon-trading mechanisms are important for how some countries plan to meet their goals, using tactics like restoring a section of tropical rainforest that can act as a net absorber of carbon dioxide. The trouble is that such schemes can be gamed to avoid making real cuts in emissions. There are also some accounting problems in Article 6 that need to be resolved, like double-counting credits.
Jennifer Morgan, the co-executive director of Greenpeace International who has attended every COP meeting, said this intense focus on trading mechanisms is a sign of how much polluters are shaping the agenda. “This COP [meeting] is particularly disturbing because I see more and more the emphasis or the influence of the fossil fuel companies here than should be the case,” she said.
Another lingering obstacle is the language around loss and damage under Article 8 of the Paris agreement. These are proposals for compensating developing countries for ongoing damages caused by climate change. It’s a high priority for island countries facing rising sea levels and for African countries that have already experienced devastating extreme weather worsened by climbing temperatures.
Here, activists and other negotiators again blame the US, which they say is insisting on language that would prevent any other country from holding it, the largest historical emitter of greenhouse gases, liable for any climate-related damages.
Trump EPA Rolls Back Obama Rule On Coal-Fired Plants
It’s especially frustrating for negotiators because the US will exit the Paris agreement altogether next year and thus will not be impacted by any provisions in the accord, but is still making the process more difficult for everyone else.
More than 200 campaigners were ejected from the COP25 venue this week and dozens blocked roads outside, with some camping out overnight until being forced away by police.
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, who sailed across the Atlantic Ocean, and back, on a solar-powered sailboat to attend the COP - and who was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year this week - received a rock star’s welcome. But she described the COP25 as “an opportunity for countries to negotiate loopholes and to avoid raising their ambition.”
There were some bright points for climate campaigners, however. Earlier in the week, the European Commission announced its European Green Deal, a plan to make the 28 countries in the EU “climate neutral” by 2050 and to halve its emissions by 2030.
The EU is the world’s largest economic bloc and is the third-largest greenhouse gas emitter. But every country in the world has to make similar or more aggressive commitments to curb emissions in order to meet the Paris agreement goals.
As the COP25 meeting drags on, the time left to reduce emissions to avoid the worst impacts of climate change is running out..
COP25: Developing Countries Charge Ahead with Bold Climate Plans as Rich Countries Drag Their Feet
Youth Protest at COP25 Continue Demands for Urgent Action
As this year’s United Nations climate summit wraps up in Madrid, Spain, many activists, scientists, indigenous and grassroots climate leaders say that rich countries most responsible for the climate emergency have spent the talks dialing back ambition and blocking progress. This comes as deadly droughts, flooding, cyclones and wildfires rage around the world. This week, more than 70 developing countries have announced they will accelerate their climate plans, and 72 countries have signed onto goals to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
But major emitters Australia, China, India, Brazil and Saudi Arabia have made no such promises, while the U.S. is slated to pull out of the Paris Agreement entirely by next year. For more on the negotiations at COP25, we speak with Saleemul Huq, climate scientist and the director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development in Bangladesh. He is advising the bloc of Least Developed Countries in the climate talks.
AMY GOODMAN: Describe what’s happening in your own country of Bangladesh.
SALEEMUL HUQ: So, my country, Bangladesh, is one of the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. We are a delta — live on a delta of two of the major rivers of the world, the Ganges and the Brahmaputra. We have a population of 160-plus million people living in less than 150,000 square kilometers, so a population density of over a thousand per square kilometer — very vulnerable, very generally poor, but nevertheless one of the most resilient countries.
We have one of the best cyclone warning and shelter systems in the world. We can warn and evacuate more than two-and-a-half million people. We recently had a major cyclone where we did that. So we are struggling, but we are rising to the challenge of dealing with the impacts of climate change. But there’s a limit to what we can do. One-and-a-half degrees, we can manage. Three degrees, we can’t.
We have already increased global temperature by well over 1 degree centigrade, and that is already having impacts. And we’re headed for 3 degrees and nowhere near the one-and-a-half degrees that we want to do. The impacts are causing loss of life, loss of biodiversity. We need the Conference of Parties to step up to that challenge that has been given from the rest of the world, particularly the young children of the world who were out here in Madrid.
COP 25 - U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL CALLS FOR RAPID & DEEP CHANGE AT CLIMATE SUMMIT
UN Secretary General is cautiously optimistic about tackling the climate emergency at the Madrid climate summit
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 25) in Madrid, Spain, UN secretary-general António Guterres urged world governments to adopt a transformational approach to tackling the climate emergency.
“We need a rapid and deep change in the way we do business – how we generate power, how we build cities, how we move and how we feed the world. If we don’t urgently change our way of life, we jeopardize life itself,” he said.
Running from 2 to 13 December, COP 25 is a crucial meeting ahead of the 2020 UN Climate Summit in Glasgow where nations will be expected to present updated climate plans, in accordance with the 2015 Paris agreement.
Guterres urged nations to replace words with actions in order to meet the Paris target of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century.
“10 years ago, if countries had acted on the science available, they would have needed to reduce [carbon] emissions by 3.3% each year. We didn’t and today we need to reduce emissions by 7.6% each year to reach our goals,” he said.
Guterres says that on current trends, there will be global heating of between 3.5 °C and 3.9 °C degrees by the end of the century. “The impact on all life on the planet, including ours, would be catastrophic,” he said.
In a press conference later in the day (see video at top of article), Guterres made it clear that he is cautiously optimistic that targets can be met, following the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit that he hosted in New York in September. “We see everywhere a new dynamism, a new determination that makes me be hopeful. I’m hopeful but not yet entirely sure because there is still a long way to go and we are still running behind climate change.”
"We see everywhere a new dynamism, a new determination that makes me be hopeful."
COP 25 was originally to be hosted by Chile, but due to political unrest the summit was switched to Madrid just a few weeks ago.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Spain’s acting prime minister Pedro Sánchez welcomed delegates to Madrid and made the case for more environmentally-focused economic policies. “Today we know that if progress is not sustainable, it’s not worth calling it progress. Today we have the scientific certainty that the human hand is behind the damage to the fragile balance that enables life on our planet,” said Sánchez.
At a separate media event, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, insisted that the US is still committed to the goals of the 2015 Paris agreement despite President Trump’s formal request to withdraw from the accord. Accompanying the Democrat politician was a congressional delegation including members of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, a body established earlier this year.
“By coming here we want to say to everyone: we’re still in, the United States is still in,” said Pelosi. “Our delegation is here to send a message on Congress’ commitment to take action on the climate crisis is iron clad. We must act because the climate crisis for us is a matter of public health – clean air, clean water for our children’s survival our economy.”
Kathy Castor, chair of the select committee, spoke about plans to publish a climate action plan in March 2020 containing public policy recommendations. “We intend to follow the science. And we intend to ensure that vulnerable communities across America –and across the globe – have every opportunity to participate in this clean energy economy and transformation,” she said.
Two leading candidates in the 2020 Presidential race, Senators Sanders and Warren, have taken the lead with bold positions to implement a Green New Deal, transition to 100% renewable energy, create millions of jobs, and a more just and equitable future - but we must act immediately.
The European Commission has proposed a sweeping new plan to address the climate crisis. The European Green Deal would be the biggest overhaul of European policy since the foundation of the modern European Union system. This is European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen:
“We do not have all the answers yet. Today is the start of a journey. But this is Europe’s 'man on the moon' moment.”
The new European Green Deal would seek to have Europe become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. It would also seek to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. European leaders are discussing the emissions goals at a summit in Brussels today.
Environmentalists here at COP25 in Madrid, Spain, welcomed the plan but said it does not go far enough in cutting greenhouse gas emissions. This is Greenpeace campaigner Martin Kaiser:
“The new Green Deal proposed by the commission today is not an adequate answer to the climate emergency we see already in Europe.”
The power sector sees huge opportunity, while the proposed “carbon border” raises questions for EU oil and gas imports.
JOHN PARNELL DECEMBER 12, 2019
On Wednesday the European Commission presented a sweeping 50-point plan centered around achieving net zero status in Europe by 2050. The proposals include a new climate law to be drafted within 100 days and stronger carbon taxes including the creation of "carbon borders." These would levy carbon taxes on imports to prevent the offshoring of emissions by firms that shift activities overseas.
The Green Deal will stimulate huge volumes of low-carbon generation. Understandably, companies charged with the task of generating Europe’s electricity welcomed the proposals with open arms. EDF’s group chairman and CEO Jean-Bernard Lévy called it a “great opportunity” to decarbonize Europe in a competitive fashion, adding that the company would mobilize all its resources to enable the “historic transition.”
Offshore wind is the only specific generation technology to get a mention in the roadmap, with nuclear power conspicuous in its absence. The longer official communication says the power sector should be based “largely on renewables,” with coal phased out and gas decarbonized..
Speaking on behalf of future generations at the U.N. climate summit, 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg addressed world leaders Wednesday, hours after she was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year. Thunberg came to the talks after a trip to meet with climate leaders across North America in anticipation of the scheduled climate conference in Santiago, Chile, before the talks were abruptly moved to the Spanish capital. In her address, Thunberg warned that the planet’s carbon budget is down to just eight years, and urged bold action.
The young activist spelled out the most critical facts on climate change that most climate scientists dare cite at risk of losing their funding:
“In chapter two, on page 108 in the SR 1.5 IPCC report that came out last yeat says that if we are to have a 67% chance of limiting the global temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees Celsius, we had, on January 1st, 2018, 420 gigatons of CO2 left to emit in that budget.”
“Of course, that number is much lower today as we emit about 42 gigatons of CO2 every year, including land use. With today’s emissions levels, that remaining budget will be gone within about eight years..”
“I still believe that the biggest danger is not inaction. The real danger is when politicians and CEOs are making it look like real action is happening when in fact almost nothing is being done apart from clever accounting and creative PR,” Thunberg said.
I have given many speeches .. about our rapidly declining carbon budgets, over and over again. But since that is still being ignored, I will just keep repeating it.
In chapter two, on page 108 in the SR 1.5 IPCC report that came out last year, it says that if we are to have a 67% chance of limiting the global temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees Celsius, we had, on January 1st, 2018, 420 gigatons [billion tons] of CO2 left to emit in that budget.
Of course, that number is much lower today as we emit about 42 gigatons of CO2 every year, including land use. With today’s emissions levels, that remaining budget will be gone within about eight years.
These numbers aren’t anyone’s opinions or political views. This is the current best available science. Though many scientists suggest these figures are too moderate, these are the ones that have been accepted through the IPCC.
Please note that these figures are global, and therefore do not say anything about the aspect of equity, which is absolutely essential to make the Paris Agreement work on a global scale. That means that richer countries need to do their fair share and get down to real zero emissions much faster and then help poorer countries do the same, so people in less fortunate parts of the world can raise their living standards.
These numbers also don’t include most feedback loops, nonlinear tipping points or additional warming hidden by toxic air pollution. Most models assume, however, that future generations will somehow be able to suck hundreds of billions of tons of CO2 out of the air with technologies that do not exist in the scale required and maybe never will. The approximate 67% chance budget is the one with the highest odds given by the IPCC. And now we have less than 340 gigatons of CO2 left to emit in that budget to share fairly.
And why is it so important to stay below 1.5 degrees? Because even at 1 degree, people are dying from the climate crisis. Because that is what the united science calls for to avoid destabilizing the climate, so that we have the best possible chance to avoid setting off irreversible chain reactions, such as melting glaciers, polar ice and thawing Arctic permafrost. Every fraction of a degree matters.
So there it is again. This is my message. This is what I want you to focus on. So please tell me: How do you react to these numbers without feeling at least some level of panic? How do you respond to the fact that basically nothing is being done about this, without feeling the slightest bit of anger? And how do you communicate this without sounding alarmist? I would really like to know.
Since the Paris Agreement, global banks have invested 1.9 trillion U.S. dollars in fossil fuels. One hundred companies are responsible for 71% of global emissions. The G20 countries account for almost 80% of total emissions. The richest 10% of the world’s population produce half of our CO2 emissions, while the poorest 50% account for just one-tenth. We indeed have some work to do, but some more than others.
Recently, a handful of rich countries pledged to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases by so-and-so many percent by this or that date, or to become climate-neutral or net zero in so-and-so many years. This may sound impressive at first glance, but even though the intentions may be good, this is not leadership. This is not leading.
This is misleading, because most of these pledges do not include aviation, shipping, and imported and exported goods and consumption. They do, however, include the possibility of countries to offset their emissions elsewhere. These pledges don’t include the immediate yearly reduction rates needed for wealthy countries, which is necessary to stay within the remaining tiny budget. Zero in 2050 means nothing if high emission continues even for a few years; then the remaining budget will be gone.
Without seeing the full picture, we will not solve this crisis. Finding holistic solutions is what the COP should be all about. But instead, it seems to have turned into some kind of opportunity for countries to negotiate loopholes and to avoid raising their ambition. Countries are finding clever ways around having to take real action, like double counting emissions reductions and moving their emissions overseas and walking back on their promises to increase ambition or refusing to pay for solutions or loss and damage. This has to stop. What we need is real, drastic emission cuts at the source.
But, of course, just reducing emissions is not enough. Our greenhouse gas emissions has to stop. To stay below 1.5 degrees, we need to keep the carbon in the ground. Only setting up distant dates and saying things which give the impression of that action is underway will most likely do more harm than good, because the changes required are still nowhere in sight. The politics needed does not exist today, despite what you might hear from world leaders.
And I still believe that the biggest danger is not inaction. The real danger is when politicians and CEOs are making it look like real action is happening when in fact almost nothing is being done apart from clever accounting and creative PR.
I have been fortunate enough to be able to travel around the world. And my experience is that the lack of awareness is the same everywhere, not the least amongst those elected to lead us. There is no sense of urgency whatsoever. Our leaders are not behaving as if we were in an emergency. In an emergency, you change your behavior. If there is a child standing in the middle of the road and cars are coming at full speed, you don’t look away because it’s too uncomfortable. You immediately run out and rescue that child.
Without that sense of urgency, how can we, the people, understand that we are facing a real crisis? And if the people are not fully aware of what is going on, then they will not put pressure on the people in power to act. And without pressure from the people, our leaders can get away with basically not doing anything — which is where we are now. And around and around it goes.
In just three weeks we will enter a new decade, a decade that will define our future. Right now we are desperate for any sign of hope. Well, I’m telling you there is hope. I have seen it. But it does not come from the governments or corporations.
It comes from the people, the people who have been unaware but are now starting to wake up. And once we become aware, we change. People can change. People are ready for change. And that is the hope, because we have democracy. And democracy is happening all the time, not just on Election Day, but every second and every hour.
It is public opinion that runs the free world. In fact, every great change throughout history has come from the people. We do not have to wait. We can start the change right now. We, the people. Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg. Right after her address, scores of youth activists rushed the stage as security tried to escort them off. They stood, immovable, fists raised in the air, chanting, “You can’t drink oil! Keep it in the soil!” Their final chant as they walked off the stage was “We are unstoppable! Another world is possible!”
YOUTH ACTIVISTS: We are unstoppable! Another world is possible! We are unstoppable! Another world is possible!
AMY GOODMAN: Outside the U.N. summit plenary on Thursday afternoon, we’ll hear voices from the protests that took place that afternoon, and speak with Uganda’s first Fridays for Future climate striker. She was there on the stage in the morning, and she was pushed outside as she protested with others in the afternoon.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Are Still Rising, U.N. Report Says
Greenhouse gas emissions have steadily risen for the last decade despite the current and future threat posed by climate change, according to a new United Nations report.
The annual report compares how clean the world's economies are to how clean they need to be in order to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change — a disparity known as the "emissions gap."
However, this year's report describes more of a chasm than a gap. Global emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gasses have continued to steadily increase over the last decade. In 2018, the report notes that global fossil fuel CO2 emissions from electricity generation and industry grew by a mammoth 2%.
"There is no sign of [greenhouse gas] emissions peaking in the next few years," the authors write. Every year that emissions continue to increase, "means that deeper and faster cuts will be required" in order to keep the Earth from warming more than 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The Earth is already more than 1 degree warmer than it was before industrialization, and that is driving more frequent and severe storms, droughts, heat waves and other extreme weather. According to the 2018 National Climate Assessment, if global emissions fail to fall in the coming decade, it will slow economic growth and cause serious damage to infrastructure and property in the United States.
"This is urgent, but we can do it," says Elliot Diringer of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, a climate policy think tank in Washington, D.C. The annual emissions gap report "heightens even further the public and political pressure on governments to do their utmost," he says.
The United States is currently not on track to meet its greenhouse gas reduction commitments under the Paris Agreement, which the United States ratified and is technically still part of until its withdrawal takes effect in November 2020.
U.S. emissions have decreased in the last decade as appliances and vehicles get more efficient and the economy moves away from pollutant-heavy energy sources, such as coal. However, a strong economy paired with regulatory rollbacks have pushed emissions back up in recent years, slowing the country's downward emissions trend.
According to the new report, six other major economies are also lagging behind their commitments, including Canada, Japan, Australia and Brazil.
Meanwhile, China's greenhouse emissions have continued to grow, although they appear to be on track to peak before 2030, which is the target date that Beijing set for itself.
The new U.N. report points out that per capita emissions in China are now "in the same range" as the European Union. China has also invested heavily in renewable energy such as solar and wind, and leads the world in electric vehicle infrastructure, although such investments have slowed in recent years.
The new report lays out recommendations for how the world's top economies could cut emissions in the next decade. For example, countries could ban new coal-fired power plants, require all new vehicles to be CO2-free by 2030, expand mass transit and require all new buildings to be entirely electric.
The report comes just a few weeks before world leaders meet in Madrid for the annual Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, where they will discuss whether to make bolder national promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the coming years. The report warns that countries must promise to reduce emissions three to five times more than they already have.
11,000 scientists sign declaration of global climate emergency
CLIMATE CHANGE talks held this week in Madrid, Spain, were a “staggering failure” of the world’s leading polluters to take action, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
By SEBASTIAN KETTLEY
PUBLISHED Sunday, Dec 15, 2019
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP25) ended on Sunday morning (December 15) without a decisive plan to tackle the climate crisis. Instead, member states have agreed to ask other countries for more ambitious greenhouse cuts to ensure climate agreements are met.
UN Chief Antonio Guterres expressed his “disappointment” at the lack of progress on Twitter, saying now is not the time to “give up”.
The UN chief's sentiment was mirrored by environmental groups who accused the world’s leading superpowers of shirking responsibility for the climate crisis.
Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, 194 states have agreed to limit global warming to 1.5C (2.7F) degrees of preindustrial levels.
Most recent estimates, however, suggest the planet is headed for a catastrophic 3C to 4C degrees of warming by the end of the century.
Scientists have warned unchecked global warming could deprive 1.9 billion people of access to drinking water by 2100.
World Wildlife Fund UK CEO Tanya Steele branded the COP25 talks a failure and urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to lead the world on climate change at the upcoming COP26 talks in Glasgow in November 2020.
Said Steele: “These climate talks have been witness to the most staggering failure of leadership by some countries. “Too many are still hitting the snooze button in the face of our planet’s loudest alarm.
“All eyes will now be on COP26 in Glasgow to restore much-needed confidence in this process and deliver the action necessary to restore a safe climate and safeguard humanity’s future.
“The stakes are so high and public concern irrefutable. “Boris Johnson must make COP26 count and the UK must lead the world out of this climate emergency.”
"These climate talks have been witness to the most staggering failure of leadership" Tanya Steele, WWF UK
The COP25 talks were held this year between December 2 and December 13 with a two-day extension that carried over the weekend into December 15. The first stage of the talks was held in Chile, followed by world leaders convening in Madrid. Among those present were the world’s leading polluters, including the likes of the US, China, India, Japan, Brazil and Saudi Arabia.
WWF’s Manuel Pulgar-Vidal said: “Despite the efforts of the Chilean Presidency, the lack of commitment to scale up climate action by big emitting countries was too much to overcome.
“Their position is in stark contrast to science, rising demands from the streets and the harsh impacts already felt in vulnerable countries. “We know what has to be done, and we have run out of time for backtracking or debate. 2020 must be different and we will fight even harder for people and nature.
“Governments will return home to face increasing frustrations from youth movements, citizens and vulnerable communities suffering from the impacts of the climate crisis, and will have to answer to them. “Countries still have the chance to show they are committed to tackling the climate crisis by submitting enhanced climate pledges aligned with science as soon as possible in 2020.”
Director of Power Shift, Mohamed Adow, said: “Based on the adopted text, there is a glimmer of hope that the heart of the Paris Agreement is still beating.”
The Canada-based environmental group Toronto 350 attacked the lack of decision making at COP25. The group tweeted: “#COP25 has proven we cannot rely on politicians to prioritise the climate crisis with actions and goals. “We must get involved locally and take actions to ensure we have future.”
A new report reveals how long-term disasters, including sea level rise and desertification, and short-term disasters, such as storms and fires, are especially threatening to people living in the Global South and island nations.
We speak with the co-author of a new study that finds the climate crisis is already leading to a massive increase in the number of refugees being displaced around the world. Hossein Ayazi is a policy analyst with the Global Justice Program at the Othering & Belonging Institute at the University of California, Berkeley.
Major Countries with More Than 100,000 New Internally Displaced People (IDP) Due to Natural Disasters in 2018
We’re also joined at the U.N. Climate Summit in Madrid by Saleemul Huq, climate scientist and the director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development in Bangladesh. He is advising the bloc of Least Developed Countries in the climate negotiations.
AMY GOODMAN: Saleemul Huq, this year we’re in Madrid, Spain; next year, Glasgow. What do you expect to happen in this time? Or does it even matter what happens here? Is it the action in the streets the only thing that makes a difference, like the young climate activists, by the millions, going on school climate strike, demanding that their leaders pay attention and take action?
Amy Goodman Interviews Saleemul Huq, Climate Scientist and Director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development in Bangladesh
SALEEMUL HUQ: I think it still matters. I think it does matter, because this is where the leaders are. This is where the leaders are negotiating. They have to listen to their own kids who are out on the streets shouting at them and telling them that they’re ruining their own kids’ future. So we are still hopeful that they will listen between now and Glasgow. We hope we’ll get a result in Madrid that will, on the particular issue that I’m concerned about, get a funding mechanism for loss and damage opened up for discussion, which we can come back to in Glasgow and see whether or not we can actually make it happen. We not asking for it to happen here. We’re asking for it to be allowed to happen next year in Glasgow. We’re hopeful that we might get that.
By Tara John, Arwa Damon, Ingrid Formanek and Sheena McKenzie, CNN
Sun December 15, 2019
What had been scheduled as a 12-day summit aimed at hammering out the rules of the 2015 Paris Climate accord, instead dragged on two extra days and highlighted the huge disconnect between the world's biggest polluting nations, and the global community demanding change.
Negotiators in Madrid worked through the night to salvage a rulebook for cutting greenhouse gas emissions before 2020, when signatories must start meeting those targets. Yet many observers, scientists and climate activists called the resulting agreement a monumental failure, strewn with watered-down language that kicks urgent items down the road to COP26 in 2020.
Host country Spain said Sunday's agreement "expresses the urgent need" for new carbon-cutting commitments. Critics said the text falls short on decisive language for doing so.
"If the climate stays like this, we won't make it"
"After forcing negotiators to keep at it for three days straight, the world's biggest carbon emitters and fossil fuel industry got what they wanted -- a weakened text that kicks most of the big issues down the road to COP26," said May Boeve, Executive Director of climate campaign group 350.org.
"There is no sugarcoating it," Helen Mountford, vice president for climate and economics at global research organization the World Resources Institute said. "The negotiations fell far short of what was expected. Instead of leading the charge for more ambition, most of the large emitters were missing in action or obstructive. Scientists and activists were left exhausted by the grinding pace of negotiations. The can-do spirit that birthed the Paris Agreement feels like a distant memory today."
There was some glimmer of hope. Eighty governments -- mostly developing and island nations most vulnerable to the effects of climate change -- have committed to bringing enhanced climate plans to COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, representing over 10% of global emissions, according to environmental communications experts, Climate Nexus.
It added that the United States "showed many different faces" at the summit. While negotiators blocked progress on some issues, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also led a 15-member Congressional delegation to
The summit featured almost 200 countries wrangling over the rules of the 2015 Paris climate accord. Its political foot-dragging was in stark contrast to impassioned pleas coming from campaigners.
On the verge of tears, Ugandan climate activist, Hilda Flavia Nakabuye was 10 years old when torrential rains stripped her family's crops and drought forced them to sell their land and livelihood.
"I came here to represent millions of African young people who are bearing the brunt of the Climate Crisis..."
"I am the voice of dying children, displaced women, and people suffering at the hands of the climate crisis created by rich countries," Nakabuye told conference members, willing delegates to recognize the scale of the environmental emergency. "Voices from the global south deserve to be heard... we are humans who do not deserve to suffer a crisis that we did not create."
Negotiators struggled to find common ground at the summit, especially over rules for a new global carbon trading market. It's a major part of the Paris agreement, designed to reduce emissions of planet-warming gases, and has yet to be finalized.
The US, Saudi Arabia, Russia, China, India and other big polluters are accused of obstructionist behavior while Australia and Brazil stand accused of seeking loopholes to recycle old carbon credits in order to meet their commitments under the Paris accord.
"Brazil is being difficult because what they want their past emission reductions to be carried forward to the new regime," Bob Ward, policy director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, told CNN. Critics say this route, which is similar to using expired banknotes in a modern market, means greenhouse gases won't be lowered at the rate needed to keep global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The United States, the history's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, is leaving the process next year. Members of the "We Are Still In" coalition, which was at the conference, are trying to fill the gap. The group consists of US states and cities, businesses, tribes and academic institutions, that came together soon after the Trump administration said it wanted to leave the Paris accord.
"Even though our federal government decided to leave the Paris agreement, governments, institutions, corporations around the US are fully still in and we are working together and with our partners around the world to make sure that those agreements are met," Bill Peduto, the Democratic Mayor of Pittsburgh, told CNN in Madrid.
Protests broke out over the lack of climate action at the conference.
The American coalition says it represents an economy worth $6.2 trillion -- equivalent to the third biggest country in the world. According to its report, it will be able to reduce US total emissions by 37% below the 2005 levels by 2030. But for the US to be able to bring emissions in line with the necessary goal, the federal government needs to come on board.
The burning of fossil fuels is the main driver of climate change, and activists blame the oil, coal and gas industry of slowing governments down on emissions targets.
"It's going to be very difficult to reach a goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius without the US (federal government) playing the leadership role we need it to play," Andrew Steer, President and CEO of the Washington-based climate policy think tank, World Resources Institute, told CNN.
'We need leadership, not talks'
There are mounting public concerns about climate change, a slew of scientific reports warning of climate catastrophe, and fury from a youth-led protest movement, which saw an estimated 4 million people join a global climate strike in September.
Teen activist Greta Thunberg who began the youth-led movement of kids striking for the climate, excoriated delegates for their inaction on Wednesday. "We have been striking for over a year, and basically nothing has happened," Thunberg told the crowd. "The climate crisis is still being ignored by those in power, and we cannot go on like this."
There were some signs of hope at the event. On Monday, finance ministers from more than 50 countries unveiled an action plan that would see them incorporate climate solutions into their policies, which Ward described as a "game-changing" moment. "If we are going to really change to a zero carbon economy, it needs a massive investment and that investment will be made by finance ministries," he said.
Wind Meets 100 Percent of Denmark's Power Demand on September 15
Campaigners are urgently calling for more dramatic change after decades of debate. "We all talk about climate emergency but don't act as if there is any," Ugandan campaigner Nakabuye implored the summit.
"Dear leaders, we need leadership on climate action not talks. For how long will you keep negotiating? You have been negotiating for the last 25 years, even before I was born."
Arwa Damon and Ingrid Formanek reported from Madrid. Sheena McKenzie and Tara John wrote and reported from London.
In Australia, protesters have set up tents outside the prime minister’s home to demand urgent action on climate change, as Australia recorded its hottest day ever on record. On Wednesday, the average temperature soared to 107.4 degrees Fahrenheit, beating out the previous record, which had been set on Tuesday, only 24 hours earlier.
Uncontrolled wildfires are raging across Australia, sending thick black smoke billowing across the continent, with smoke alarms going off in homes and offices across Sydney.
14-year-old Ambrose Hayes speaking at the protest outside the Australian prime minister’s home: “We want to be listened to. We want a future! If our government doesn’t act, there will be more protests like this. There have been so many recently, which shows how much of an issue this is.”