Socialist Worker

Climate talks crash as world leaders fail to set new targets

The United Nations’ Cop 25 conference said it would focus on stopping climate change. Instead it showed world leaders are unable to protect the planet, says Sarah Bates

Issue No. 2685

Negotiators gathered for talks

Negotiators gathered for two weeks of talks (Pic: UNclimatechange/Flickr)

Our rulers’ lack of ­commitment to preventing humanitarian crisis and ecological disaster was underlined at United Nations climate talks that concluded last weekend.

The Cop 25 negotiations, held in Madrid in Spain, ended with the formal recognition that greenhouse gas targets set in the 2015 Paris agreements would not be enough to avert climate catastrophe.

But it failed to agree on a more ambitious plan.

Negotiations focused on ­technical details rather than on more ­ambitious targets for slashing carbon emissions.

And, richer countries blocked finance for poorer nations already suffering the consequences of ­climate related disaster.

Negotiators argued about how to implement the Paris deal that saw countries promise to try and keep temperature rises below 2 degrees.

Some five years on, the planet is set for a temperature rise that far exceeds 2 degrees.

But instead of seeking to address the climate crisis, world leaders debated how they could keep ­polluting our world by using the “carbon credits” scam (see box).

Interim executive director of Oxfam International, Chema Vera, said, “The world is ­screaming out for action but this summit responded with a whisper.

“The poorest nations are in a sprint for survival, yet many ­governments have barely moved from the starting blocks.”

The talks come as ­record?breaking bush fires rip through Australia and an unusually heavy storm is set to hit the US Midwest.

The most critical factor in ­limiting temperature rise is a dramatic cut in carbon emissions made by burning fossil fuels.


To ensure that temperatures don’t rise above 1.5 degrees, carbon emissions need to be cut by ­7.6 ­percent over ten years. But since the Paris agreement was signed, ­emissions have risen by 4 percent.

The conference saw richer, highly polluting nations block attempts to further the commitments made in Paris.

A 500,000-strong demo, led by Greta Thunberg, marched through the streets of Madrid demanding ­climate justice.

Thousands of campaigners came together at hundreds of sessions at the “Social Summit for Climate” which ran parallel to the Cop talks.

And Extinction Rebellion activists delivered horse manure just outside the entrance to Cop, accusing the talks of “rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic”.

After 25 years of Cop talks the climate crisis is speeding up and becoming more severe with every passing day.

The threat of rising sea levels, extreme weather, compromised food production (see pages 10 and 11) and soaring temperatures is an emergency.

But instead of treating it like one, the negotiators at Cop battle to ­preserve the right to carry on polluting.

It will take resistance on the streets and beyond to force world leaders to real action.’

Carbon comes at a price

One of the most contentious issues is the question of “carbon markets”—also known as “Article 6 in the Paris agreement”.

Brazil’s government and others tried to block agreements on Article 6 during Madrid’s talks.

This system means countries can claim “credits” for emissions-cutting measures or carbon sinks—such as forests—that work to reduce greenhouse gas pollution.

The market allows richer countries to buy credits from poorer ones and emit more carbon.

Brazil wants to claim carbon credits for having vast forests. But it also wants additional carbon credits if it keeps the forests intact.

Australia’s government tried to claim extra carbon credits for beating targets set in an historic agreement—the 1997 Kyoto protocol.

Politicians’ accounting tricks shows how shallow their commitment to dealing with climate catastrophe is.

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