COP25 ‘disappointing’ as wealthy nations block several major commitments

Despite the global movement to push governments into recognizing a climate emergency and the need for urgent action, no commitment seem to be forthcoming

December 17, 2019 by Peoples Dispatch

After exhaustive and grueling negotiations involving nearly 200 nation-states, the 25th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP), held at Madrid, ended up with a deal that has disappointed observers and environmentalists across the globe. The summit, which was supposed to end on Friday was stretched for another two days, as it was hit by several roadblocks, making it the longest ever international negotiation on climate change. The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has called the conference a “lost opportunity.”

As always, poorer Third World nations called on the richer countries to take responsibility for their historical role in contributing to environmental degradation and inducing climate change, especially calling on them to fund the transition away from carbon-based energy production for poorer nations. Some of the biggest debates that emerged at COP25 were related to financing for the transition from coal to other less polluting or renewable sources of energy.

However, richer countries have refused to take up a greater share of funding, which puts funds-starved poorer and developing countries in a difficult position. This reluctance is among the reasons that the Green Climate Fund, which was established during the 16th Climate Change Conference in 2010, is already short of funds despite the conservative goal of securing USD 100 billion by 2020. Many countries, including the US, have fallen way short of honoring their pledges to the Fund.

Third World nations have rallied for investments in renewable energy generation through most of this decade, even while many of them struggle to electrify their country and are dependent on coal-based power plants as the only cheap option available to them

Accusations have also been leveled, especially against the United States, Australia and Saudi Arabia, for refusing to cut down carbon emissions level any further, and acting as major roadblocks in the negotiations. Even though China and India have emerged in recent years as among the biggest polluters, their per capita contribution to global emissions is much lower than North America and the European nations that have been among the worst polluters for more than a century.

Eventually, a compromise agreement was signed, which despite raising the goal for carbon-cuts until the next summit, is seen as insufficient for many. Observers and scientists have pointed out that even if these targets are met fully, global average temperatures may rise by 3 degrees Celsius by the end of the 21st century, projecting a precarious future ahead.