UN climate summit enters decisive week, phase in negotiations

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Madrid, Dec 9 (IANS) The UN Climate Change Summit prepares to enter a decisive week, the high-level phase, amid much uncertainty on the negotiating table and a focus on leaders who aren’t attending, but who still influence the agreements discussed at the major conference.

Over the coming days, much of the media attention will be on leaders in the fight against climate change like Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg and former US Vice President and Nobel laureate Al Gore, reports Efe news.

On Tuesday, the ministerial side of the summit starts and those responsible for the environment will try to bring together pending issues after a week of intense negotiations on the issues that still separate the parties, including Article 6 of the Paris Agreement.

This article regulates how carbon markets work, though a lack of consensus in Madrid would not prevent the Paris Agreement from coming into force fully in 2020, and all parties consider it the default until another formula is agreed upon.

In recent days, negotiators have exchanged several drafts on the matter, but many points remain open.

It will be on the Environment Ministers, who will start arriving at the summit from Monday, to try and close them.

Agreement among Latin American Ministers was especially relevant for a sector that is responsible for a high percentage of greenhouse gas emissions but particularly vulnerable to the climate crisis, vital to ensuring food security and essential (with its forests) when it comes to capturing and storing carbon.

Representatives from the European Union, which many of the parties at the conference recognize as the engine leading the international community towards greater climate ambition, will also attend the final stretch of the summit in Madrid.

But the differences between countries prevail, mostly due to the high dependence that many eastern states have on coal.

The Madrid conference will look sideways at Brussels because on Wednesday the new European Green Pact will be presented, during which time the new Commission will affirm its commitment to climate change and its objective that Europe be the first continent to reach the carbon neutrality (in 2050).

To give a boost to the negotiations and re-launch a strong message in favour of action in the face of the climate crisis, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is scheduled to make a return to Madrid this week.

–IANS

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