Madrid did not go far enough to meet the needs of the climate crisis

Watching Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change speaking at COP25

Contributed by Adam Carlton

As the COP 25 gathering draws to a close in Madrid, the world has witnessed the embarrassing performance by Australia. The United States was almost absent. Much of the world is not on track to achieve the Paris targets promised for 2020.

A good deal of what has taken place has been talk. it still needs to materialise into practical measures, and there is a continuing over emphasis of reliance on market mechanisms as the solution. This has not worked over the last 25 years, and must change if, nations are going to take up their responsibilities.

There have also been some positive notes. United Nations General Secretary Antonio Guterres delivered an address that pushed for much better performance, pointing out that the time is short to do what must be done to avert a catastrophe.

China announced the intention to drastically further cut its own carbon emissions, down by 45 percent by 2030 and to net zero by 2050.

A meeting of the ministers from China, South Africa and Brazil produced a statement urging “developed country parties to fulfill their commitments on providing finance, technology development and transfer of capacity building support to developing countries”. India made a similar call.

The failure of developed countries to help developing countries make the transition has been one of the major blockers of progress.

Climate campaigners speak in Madrid

Video from UN Climate Change

The 28 Nation European Union this week announced its intention to increase its target, to achieving reduction to 40 percent of its 1990 level by 2030 and zero net emissions by 2050.

A law is to be passed in March next year, making these targets binding on member states. A comprehensive plan will be in place by the middle of the year.

The statement also said:

“Commitments made by developed countries in the pre-2020 period must be honoured because the completion of pre-2020 agenda is of critical importance in building the basis for mutual trust and ambition in the post-2020 period.

“The pre-2020 gaps regarding mitigation, adaptation, means of implementation, and reporting by developed countries must be assessed and closed, without transferring any burden on the developing countries.

“The pre-2020 agenda will be concluded when the pre-2020 ambition gaps have been close and not at the end of this conference.”

Lifting positive action to a higher level is not going to depend on heads of state and functionaries. COp 25 has proved this again. The limited movement seen in Madrid was driven by the rise of a global movement pushing hard for much more to be done. Without it there would have been nothing.

March in Madrid during COP25

Video from #SABCNews

It is telling that as the European union met in Brussels to discuss its new targets, there was a crowd outside making its view loud and clear. Greenpeace used a fire engine to have people scale the building and unfurl banners on it.

Proceedings in Madrid’s CO25 summit have also met with a big presence outside. The city has seen marches and other actions. Greta Thunberg turned up and attracted global attention. Young people took over the stage at one point, to tell the delegates how they feel’

Young activists take to stage at COP25

Video from Ruptly

Indigenous people and representatives from por nations staged a protest inside, because it is their communities that are facing many of the worst impacts. Loss of land, mining pollution, loss of water and food resources, and sometimes s=rising sea levels are devastating lives and people are dying.

Indigenous Leaders and delegates from Global South Stage Dramatic Protest at COP25 in Madrid

Video from Democracy Now!

The last year or so has seen the rise of an ongoing movement that is locking in public opinion. It has seen the rise of the Kids strikes and Extinction rebellion.

Ultimately, it is this rising tide, boosted by the experience of recent unusual weather events, which are ensuring it is almost impossible to continue to ignore reports outlining the climate crisis and mountain of scientific evidence.

The tide is making life very difficult for the politicians and the corporate world benefiting from the production of carbon emissions. But there is no guarantee that they will listen to rising public opinion.

For this reason, continuing to build the momentum outside elite institutions is the key to success. Adequate action on the climate crisis must be made to happen.

In Australia, there is still a long way to go. We have one of the world’s worst performing governments. Australia produces more carbon per capita than any other country and is one of the world’s biggest exporters of fossil fuels.

On the other hand, the movement for change is rising here too, and it can make all the difference.

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