U.N. climate negotiations end with key issues unresolved


Photo from UNclimatechange, on flickr

Tyler Chalfant | December 17th, 2019

The 25th annual Conference of the Parties concluded in Madrid on Sunday, and activists as well as participants largely consider the United Nations negotiations to be a failure. U.N. Secretary General António Guterres said on Twitter that he was “disappointed with the results” of the conference. “The international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation & finance to tackle the climate crisis.”

The talks were meant to conclude on Friday, but stretched on to be the longest ever in a quarter century. Delegates left with neither a commitment from the world’s largest polluters to adopt new carbon emissions targets next year, nor a set of rules for global carbon markets. Article 6, which sets up the international trade of emissions cuts and other forms of international cooperation, remains the last aspect of the Paris climate agreement to be resolved, and could “make or break” the entire agreement. 

As the United States is the only country in the world backing out of the Paris climate agreement, this was the last chance, at least for some time, for U.S. delegates to participate in climate negotiations. The U.S., along with Australia, Brazil, China, and India, was singled out as among the major polluters blocking several actions, including more ambitious climate targets for 2020. 

Other issues pushed into next year’s conference in Glasgow include:

  • How to support countries affected by the irreversible effects of climate change
  • An agreement on common timeframes for national climate pledges
  • The establishment of common metrics for converting non-carbon dioxide emissions into carbon dioxide equivalents to be reported
  • Recommendations for climate action in agriculture

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