Almost a quarter of a century after the first United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change - that took place between 28 March and 7 April 1995- in Berlin, Germany, the result is discouraging: the world´s most powerful economies and even poor countries have once again postponed key agreements on pressing issues.
In light of the outcome of the so-called Conference of the Parties, which ended last Sunday in Madrid, the scientific and academic community must insist on complying with indicators to prevent the Earth's temperature from rising to dangerous levels.
The summit, known as CPO25, faced its worst moments when differences on key issues, such as carbon dioxide emissions, appeared almost unbridgeable.
Initially, it seemed that this would be the meeting to move forward new goals, after 25 years of meetings where developments become ominous. However, the impasse on the final declaration caused endless delays and debates, which postponed the conclusion of the event two days. They only reached an ambiguous declaration that left a very bad taste among the scientific community and citizens.
Influential countries with powerful voices in the global fossil fuel market, such as the United States, Russia, China, and Saudi Arabia, twisted the language and purpose of many of the clauses in the agreement drafted for this occasion.
Australia also objected and Brazil was one of the most reluctant voices regarding a review of the plans to prevent global warming. Experts warn that global warming should not cross the 1.5 degree Celsius border and that without immediate measures to prevent that, it could go over that mark. If it rises to 3 degrees Celsius, as scientists fear, the planet’s decline could be unstoppable.
Ironically, during the Conference, Australia was facing one of the worst wildfires in its history. The same thing happened in Brazil, whose government has closed its eyes to the reality of climate change which leads to even greater tragedies. In China, pollution kills more than a million people every year, twice as many as in 2013, according to data by the prestigious magazine The Lancet.
Perhaps based on expectations, the Conference that ended in Madrid last weekend left a deep sense of helplessness, and many world leaders expressed their disappointment immediately.
European Union countries, more inclined to seek goals that will help reverse the unstoppable pace of the ecological crisis – which is also a social crisis – could do little to avoid recriminations by African nations, such as Nigeria, which insist on using coal as an energy source, since they cannot afford renewable energy systems due to their high cost. They would need international assistance to implement such systems.
Deforestation in Zambia runs at an alarming pace – trees are falling victim to the charcoal industry – and South Africa remains the continent’s biggest polluter, despite a carbon tax law passed last summer.
The atmosphere at the Conference was clearly tense and many substantial issues, such as buying and selling domestic energy quotas or emission permits between countries that pollute the most and countries that don´t, was left to be resolved at COP26, which will be held next year in Scotland.
Other serious weather events will surely shake the world. The speed of changes on the planet, dramatic melting events, rising sea levels, and increasingly powerful hurricanes make it urgent to keep up the pressure on governments.
Those who are more reluctant need to really understand that it is a moral obligation to ensure our children decent spaces to live.