The UN climate summit that just concluded in Madrid has proved that world leaders are not only unable to stand together for the planet, but can also behave irresponsibly.
The 25th framework meeting, whose venue had to be shifted from Chile to Spain at the last minute, had raised hopes about making some headway albeit modest, but what the world heard instead was a result worse than failure. The summit, which could not achieve even one of the five set goals, also witnessed the exit of the United States from the Paris Agreement.
The Madrid meet drew a clear blank on the four items, i.e. resume international carbon market, find the funds for compensating the losses resulting from climate change, make a blue print for giving financial aid to developing countries suffering from pollution caused by developed countries, and review the progress of developed countries in fulfilling the action items to be completed by 2020, the first year of the crucial 'climate decade'. The only (and partially) successful item was the fifth one for including in the climate action plan, gender justice, human rights and rights of aboriginals. The biggest wrangling was made in the critical one of carbon markets.
The countries most responsible for climate change are the rich countries; and the ones to suffer because of that are the poor coutries. For this very reason, the rich countries had undertaken it as an obligation, as per the Paris Agreement, to offer long-term financial aid to poor countries. Hilary Clinton, US Secretary then, had agreed that from the year 2020, USD 10,000 crore would be contributed every year by developed countries to developing countries. But now the Trump administration, which has served notice of withrawing from the Paris Agreement, has begun the attempt to withdraw from even this obligation to pay compensation.
The discussions among 195 countries, for which they spent nearly two weeks, were of urgent importance. Wth the actions due to be taken in the new year with greater vigour, decisions should have been taken sufficiently in advance, earlier. In the meantime, vindicating the repeated warnings of scientists, year 2019 recorded a big increase in heating levels.
The year which saw in unprecedented degree the phenomena like heat wave, untimely rains, cyclones, flood, drought, forest fire and land slides, had imposed on governments greater responsibility than never before and with unprecedented urgency. Protests are crystallising the world over against the indifference of political leaderships. If, despite all this, there could not be a move even an inch closer to solutions, it is solely due to the inefficacy of governements. Now, when the crucial decade commences on 1st January, there will not be the funds required for the pre-determined action items. The rich countriesled by the US torpedoed the aid that was due from the developed, industralised countries. Carbon market cannot be started either. What is left is a bunch of routine projects and hollow words. It looks as though the goals to be achieved by 2030 are all abandoned. The European Union, that boasts about what they are going to achieve by 2050, are silent about 2030. India, which has made progress in alternate energy sector, is not in a position to abolish coal entirely, and is unable to do so because of the coal lobby.
On the whole, even the slim expectations raised with the Paris Agreement, appear to have died out in Madrid. It is not necessary to identify who were responsible for this. The guilty will easily be the political leaderships that steer governments. They in turn are held hostage by the vested interests intend to reap extra profit even at the cost of annihilating the earth. It is once again becoming clear how cut off governments are from the realities raised by peoples, activists and the scientific world.
When they continue destroying the home of every one – which our planet is - by running industries involving anything from exploitation of nature to the defence industry, how can the rest of us remain mere spectators? Can we wait till leaders without the political will or the scientific knowledge, totally wipe off the planet? Now on, civil societies and activists have but to take up matters. The decade beginning with the new year is 'Climate Decade'. When it ends in 2030, carbon emissions have to be reduced by half of the present level. That time is gone when we could assume that irresponsible leaders of countries, who failed to fulfil even the goals they had undertaken and shirk from moral responsibility and legal obligations, will do all this. Peoples should intervene. And that is the message coming from Madrid.