Updated Dec 15, 2019 - Energy & Environment

UN climate emergency talks limp on

A hand holding the UN symbol
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Negotiations at COP25, the 25th United Nations Climate Change conference, continued into the night Saturday as "major economies resisted calls for bolder climate commitments," Reuters reports from the Madrid summit.

Our thought bubble, per Axios' Ben Geman: This impasse shows how hard it's proving to transform the Paris climate agreement's vision into more concrete steps. It comes as the harms of the changing climate become more apparent in the present.

What's new: Activists led by protest group Extinction Rebellion staged a mock hanging outside the UN summit venue. Reuters reports they also dumped manure at the scene with a message to leaders attached: "The horses--t stops here."

Between the lines: Geman notes that accounts from Madrid and statements circulated to reporters show how the dismay of advocates is palpable as the conference falls short of their hopes. Per Geman:

  • This year's annual summit follows fresh reports showing how far off track the world is from even beginning the steep emissions cuts needed to meet the goals of the Paris deal:
  1. Holding the global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and ideally limiting it to 1.5°C.
  2. The harms of the changing climate become more apparent even in the present.

What they're saying: Finland Environment Minister Krista Mikkonen, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said it'd be "impossible to leave" the summit without an agreement that delivered a "strong message" committed to redoubling pledges to cut emissions in 2020, per Reuters.

  • Grenada envoy Simon Stiell told AFP the "crazy" lack of progress at the climate talks "isn't reflective of the kids who are demonstrating on the streets the world over, communities being washed away by rising sea levels."

Read the UN COP25 draft decision:

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Editor's note: This article has been updated with details of the climate protest.

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