Stories

UN climate summit opens on heels of sobering emissions data

at the congress centre IFEMA in Madrid
Photo: Pierre- Philippe Marcou/AFP via Getty Images

COP25, a big United Nations climate summit, opens Monday in Madrid, Spain.

Why it matters: It follows fresh reports in recent days showing how the world is far off track from even beginning the steep emissions cuts needed to meet the Paris agreement's goals.

What we're watching: Negotiators will be trying to tackle outstanding decisions about how to implement the Paris deal. A big one is rules for international carbon credit markets.

  • "The issue is paramount to the integrity of the Paris Agreement and negotiators have warned that weak rules could undermine the entire accord and even lead to an increase in emissions," Climate Home News reports.

The big picture: More broadly, the summit is aimed at pushing big polluters to raise their ambition ahead of submitting revised emissions pledges next year.

  • UN Secretary-General António Guterres, at a press conference yesterday, said global efforts have been "utterly inadequate."
  • "In the crucial 12 months ahead, it is essential that we secure more ambitious national commitments — particularly from the main emitters — to immediately start reducing greenhouse gas emissions at a pace consistent to reaching carbon neutrality by 2050," he said.

The intrigue: The Trump administration, which is abandoning the agreement, is not sending high-profile officials or top White House aides to the talks.

  • The U.S. delegation is led by Marcia Bernicat, the principal deputy assistant secretary in the State Department's Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.
  • However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is there today with a group of Democratic lawmakers.

Go deeper: Once a critic, Chamber of Commerce now backs Paris climate agreement