Climate talks end with baby steps when we need a giant leap

Communities and campaigners now leading the transformation as “leaders” trail

The COP24 climate summit came to an end this weekend, and it is clear that governments have failed to adequately respond to the catastrophic impacts of climate change that were highlighted in October’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report. That landmark report stated we need to cut global emissions in half by 2030 and to near zero by 2050 in order to achieve the temperature goal of the Paris Agreement to keep global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

Commenting, Oisin Coghlan, a spokesperson for the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition said:
“I’m not sure what planet our leaders are on. Not the same one as the scientists in the IPCC, or David Attenborough, or those struggling to farm in the face of an increasingly chaotic climate, or the young activists fighting to save their future. At this climate conference negotiators took baby steps, when we need a giant leap. Thankfully communities and campaigners around the world are forging ahead to create the just transition we so desperately need. The people will lead and politicians will follow.”

It appears from the published text that COP 24 failed to deliver a clear commitment to strengthen all countries’ climate pledges by 2020. At the same time, a relatively effective though incomplete rulebook for how to implement the Paris Agreement was finalised. Limited progress was also made with regard to how financial support for poorer countries coping with devastating climate impacts will be provided and accounted for.

Jennifer Higgins, Policy Advisor for Christian Aid Ireland, commented:
“Financial support to poorer countries was always going to be a sticking point. Developing countries weren’t demanding finance now, they wanted rules which showed that the needed finance to help them track and reduce their emissions, would come when promised.  Without  which they wouldn’t be able to achieve their own mitigation responsibilities, nor deal with the effects of climate change they are already facing. Some predictability has been achieved, but rich countries have been allowed to count almost anything and everything as climate finance, including commercial loans. This puts the sincerity of the $100bn pledge for poor countries into question. This COP was important in that is was the chance for countries to demonstrate how committed they were to Paris and establish an important rulebook to achieve its ambitious goals. Instead countries such as the USA, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Australia and Brazil have clearly not shown up prepared to do what they said they would. Countries came it seems, to disrupt, rather than work together towards meaningful, sustainable change.”


Clodagh Daly, of Friends of the Irish Environment commented:
“The failure to get agreement on how to implement article 6 of the Paris Agreement – which permits emissions trading between countries – is not surprising. There is deep disagreement about the role of carbon trading in effective climate mitigation. Some highly-polluting countries argue that it is cheaper to get less-developed countries to do climate action.  Developing countries argue that they need to be adequately rewarded financially for preserving stocks of carbon in forests, and through sustainable development initiatives. “However these trading instruments as shown by the Clean Development Mechanism have not delivered lower emissions. There are countless examples of fraud and double counting which should make parties very wary of adopting a new international carbon trading mechanism that will deliver yet more ‘hot air’ at extremely low carbon prices. It is vital that the Paris Rulebook does not permit loopholes and double counting whereby countries could benefit both financially and in their national GHG inventories from the same activities. Unfortunately the substantive decision has been left to next year, effective moving it into the long grass. We will need to wait until next year’s COP in Chile where we continue to call for the environmental integrity of the Paris Agreement.

Oisin Coghlan concluded:

“Despite disappointment surround the result of these negotiations, in the side events and actions outside being run by indigenous communities, youth activists and NGOs, reminding us that a younger generation is coming behind us, and paying attention to what world leaders do today, and they will hold them accountable in the future, it’s only a shame those at the negotiation tables couldn’t hear their load and urgent calls for ambition now.”