UN climate talks end with limited progress on emissions targets

(The Guardian, 15 Dec 2019) Partial agreement at COP25 that countries must be more ambitious to fulfil Paris goals.

Climate talks in Madrid have ended with a partial agreement to ask countries to come up with more ambitious targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions in order to meet the terms of the 2015 Paris accord.

Few countries came to this year’s talks with updated plans to reach the Paris goals, though the EU finally agreed its long-term target of reaching net zero emissions by 2050. Experts say more ambitious emissions cuts are needed globally if the Paris pledge to hold global heating to no more than 2C is to be met.

This year’s round of annual UN talks focused on narrow technical issues such as the workings of the global carbon markets, a means by which countries can trade their successes in cutting emissions with other countries that have not cut their own emissions fast enough.

By midday on Sunday, more than 40 hours after the talks deadline, agreement on that was still far off and the issue will have to be resolved next year.

There were fears that the more substantive issue of future emissions cuts would also be sidelined, but a “high ambition coalition” made up of the EU and many smaller developing countries pressed for a resolution to ask all governments to formulate stronger national plans on cutting carbon.

They partially succeeded, and they will now hope to put political pressure – from within the talks, in behind-the-scenes meetings in world capitals, and in the outside world from civil society – on all governments to recommit to the 2015 Paris accord in 2020 through updates to their national climate plans.

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The Guardian, 15 Dec 2019: UN climate talks end with limited progress on emissions targets