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UN climate talks scrap critical areas of progress and make too few new commitments

"The United States blocking progress on loss and damage on a technical issue also threatens to unravel rare progress on this most political of issues.

As the UN climate talks head towards their conclusion in Madrid, Spain, IIED director Andrew Norton said:

“The fate of the Paris Agreement is in the balance. Instead of putting the world firmly on track to tackle the climate emergency, agreement on two vital pillars – how to measure and report progress on government commitments and how to ensure that emission trading does not allow double counting of emission reductions – is unravelling.

“The meeting’s moves into reverse are alarmingly out of step with the accelerating urgency of the crisis and people’s demands for increased action. Every day that goes by, the brutal realities of the devastation to people’s lives everywhere are increasingly stark.

“All of the past year’s work to agree standard measures for tracking progress on climate action has been thrown out. China, Saudi Arabia and other members of the Arab group must not be allowed to block agreement on a universal way to measure countries’ climate action.

“Efforts to agree offsetting for hard-to-reduce emissions threaten to derail the Paris Agreement’s integrity if these talks are allowed to agree measures that count emission reductions twice.

“The United States blocking progress on loss and damage on a technical issue also threatens to unravel rare progress on this most political of issues.

“In a positive move, the European Union’s commitment to net zero by 2050 clearly demonstrates progress is possible, but few other major economies are rising to the challenge.

“It is unacceptable that governments are failing to take the radical action needed to keep temperature rise below 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Instead the talks have been riddled by scrapping critical areas of progress and too few new commitments.

“Given this lack of progress on emissions, vulnerable countries will need concrete evidence of increasing support with climate finance that enables them to develop and thrive. It is vital this money makes it possible for them to adapt as well as to survive the loss and damage they face.

“As the next UN climate summit hosts, the UK and Italian governments face a monumental challenge to deliver any sense of success between now and the next meeting.”

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