MADRID (Reuters) – Climate activists demanded that governments put science above narrow political interests on Friday as negotiators battled to secure stronger commitments on the last day of a U.N. summit aimed at reducing the risk of catastrophic global warming.
EU Executive Vice-President in charge of the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans poses with ministers and envoys from the High Ambition Coalition during the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Madrid, Spain, December 13, 2019. REUTERS/Nacho Doce
Extinction Rebellion, a civil disobedience campaign that has rallied thousands of protesters courting arrest this year, delivered its call after meeting senior officials at the gathering, where negotiations are going down to the wire.
“We’ve had 25 years of talks and the only thing that really matters is global emissions are still rising,” said Tim Crosland, a prominent member of Extinction Rebellion, which launched it campaign by occupying bridges and blocking roads in Britain just over a year ago.
“We say you have to shift the conversation to what’s necessary, to what has to be done to avert disaster and that’s the only conversation that really matters,” he told reporters.
He was speaking after Extinction Rebellion representatives met Gonzalo Munoz, climate change envoy of Chile, which holds the presidency of the talks, and other officials.
The two-week conference, which was moved to Spain after social unrest erupted in Chile, entered its final day with delegates disputing outstanding issues from the 2015 Paris Agreement, which aims to limit fast-rising global temperatures.
Questions to resolve include finance to support the countries most vulnerable to climate change, rules guiding international trade in carbon credits, and whether big countries will give a strong signal of intent to curb emissions.
The tortuous progress of the talks cut a stark contrast to the explosion of climate activism seen in the past year, from colorful Extinction Rebellion protests to block traffic in cities, to the school strike movement inspired by teen activist Greta Thunberg, who spoke at the talks this week.
With the annual negotiations entering the traditional phase of last-minute brinkmanship, which can stretch deep into the night, some negotiators said they feared that the conference would end with weak resolutions.
“We are seeing regression not progression, specifically because some countries are not willing to come forward on climate finance,” said Mohamed Nasr, chair of the Africa bloc of negotiators. “There is a very big question on the commitment of the parties to the Paris Agreement.”
Additional reporting by Jake Spring; Editing by Angus MacSwan