There were many contentious issues on the agenda of this year’s climate talks.
In the run-up, this year’s meeting was widely referred to as the ‘Loss and Damage’ talks - there was going to be a focus on how to address the residual negative impacts of climate change that we’re not able to mitigate or adapt to.
But fresh commitments to boost climate change support in order to deal with these losses were not delivered, with sticking points over how and to who support should be delivered.
Finance for climate change more broadly was, as always, a major focus of discussions. Since 1970, the UN has urged wealthy countries to spend 0.7 percent GNI to support poorer countries and meet worldwide goals on eradicating poverty.
However, climate change will make eradicating poverty much more difficult and costly. Sadly, there was limited progress in getting new, long-term funding for adaptation.
The talks in Madrid were also aiming to finalise the ‘rulebook’ for implementing the Paris Agreement. Here again progress was slow.
A key sticking point were the rules for carbon markets where countries fought over the accounting rules to prevent double counting of emissions reductions, as well as over language guaranteeing the recognition of human rights and whether a share of the proceeds from selling carbon offsets should be set aside to fund adaptation in vulnerable countries.
The most positive interpretation of this slow progress was that weak rules haven’t been set in stone; there’s still the chance to increase the ambition next year.