What's next after the climate compromise?

There is a huge gap between the compromise measures decided at the Madrid summit and what scientists believe is necessary to protect the climate. But the fight against climate change is not yet lost, many European media stress, pointing to what can still be achieved.

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Aftonbladet (SE) /

The will to change is greater than ever

Despite the disappointing results, Aftonbladet believes there is a glimmer of hope after the summit:

“The plan to take gender equality into account in climate protection measures has taken a more concrete shape. Each country is to review its climate targets against the latest scientific evidence. Progress is also visible beyond COP25. For example many global companies are assuming more responsibility for climate protection. In the US, ten states and many cities have committed to adhering to the Paris Agreement even after Donald Trump turned his back on it. The World Bank, the IMF and the EU are taking big steps to phase out fossil fuels. The will to change is simmering all over the world.”

Keskisuomalainen (FI) /

The role of states is overrated

That not all states are joining in the effort is no reason to give up all hope, Keskisuomalainen stresses:

“Not all emissions-reducing measures depend on states and their political decisions. Greenhouse gas emissions also depend on decisions taken by companies, municipalities and individual citizens, as well as on technological innovations and markets. States and international commitments have the greatest impact on all of these actors, but particularly in democratic countries progress can still be made without the active participation of the state.”

Politiken (DK) /

Exert pressure by setting good examples

The countries that want to take action should not be deterred by the results of the summit, Politiken urges:

“Of course we must campaign for global solutions and agreements. But at the same time we must move closer as nations and as the EU to countries with the same goals that have recognised the seriousness of the climate crisis. The so-called 'San José principles' on the development of a quota system [on CO2 emissions trading] which Denmark and 30 other countries committed to once it became clear that the failure in Madrid was a fact are a first step. We can't solve the crisis on our own, but we can - as the ambitious Danish climate law shows - take the lead and exert pressure on reluctant countries through the force of good example.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Emissions trading not possible without US and China

Commenting in Corriere della Sera, economics expert Stefano Agnoli puts all his hope in a change of government after the presidential election in the US next year:

“The 2020 election in the United States is becoming increasingly crucial. Because in view of the well-known position of the current administration and the volatile relations with China, as highlighted by the tariffs dispute, Trump's re-election would be disastrous for the agreement on climate change. Only with the cooperation of China and the US can environmental policies be successful. Because only Washington and Beijing have the power to negotiate the rules for a CO2 market.”

Die Welt (DE) /

The UN is the wrong forum

There is a clear conclusion to be drawn from the Madrid conference, says Die Welt:

“Getting almost 200 countries to agree to a joint course of action is simply too complicated. The states that are serious about climate protection should therefore take the lead in that direction - and be honest with themselves and others. Yes, avoiding CO2 emissions is difficult, and in the beginning also expensive. But if not even the prosperous Western countries with their well-trained engineers and social security systems are able to comply with the Paris Agreement, who can? Time to Act was the motto of the Madrid Climate Conference. And it continues to apply.”

El Mundo (ES) /

Credibility lacking without the big states

El Mundo, on the other hand, is unconvinced by the idea of a climate protection avant-garde:

“It's hypocritical to demand that ordinary citizens make gestures with regard to diesel consumption or recycling before the international community has come up with a serious, realistic and pragmatic way to get the climate crisis of the ecosystem under control and to bear the costs of the ecological transformation and the associated economic and industrial reforms. Now that science has proven that climate change is man-made, total decarbonisation by around 2050 should be a viable goal. This requires a serious commitment on the part of the 200 countries, and in particular the US, China, India and Russia as the largest emitters of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.”

The Irish Times (IE) /

Citizens' demands deliberately ignored

Once again, selfish national interests have prevented real progress, the Irish Times concludes:

“Moreover, the outcome underlines a gaping disconnect between politicians and people across the world demanding much more urgency in the response to an accelerating climate crisis. It was a time when consensus and solidarity were desperately needed. ... Many political leaders deserve to pay a heavy price for this grossly inadequate response, not least those big carbon-emitting countries such as Brazil, the US, and Australia. Their leaders deserve to be ostracised as they continue to pedal climate denialism and to facilitate fossil fuel expansion.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

The blockers' last stand

The states that still rely on fossil fuels are actually in a weak position, believes the Tages-Anzeiger:

“One is left with the impression that the governments of the 'fossil' states are using the last reserves of their strength to defend themselves against the turning point. Their once considerable influence has long since evaporated. Only a small minority of governments are still not taking science seriously and ignoring the urgent need to reduce emissions. This minority has blocked the progress of the negotiations in Madrid. But it did not succeed in passing off this conference and its lazy compromise as a success. This time the international community has shown strength and prevented the Paris climate agreement from being weakened by counterproductive decisions. In this respect Madrid's failures can also be interpreted positively.”

La Libre Belgique (BE) /

Not very productive but nonetheless necessary

La Libre Belgique explains why climate conferences will be necessary in future despite the disappointing results:

“As discouraging as it is, this outcome is hardly surprising. It simply reflects the current state of global geopolitics where several large countries have deliberately opted for a trial of strength and nationalist withdrawal rather than cooperation and multilateralism. The geopolitical balance is shifting and will continue to shift in the future - for better and for worse. Since the challenges posed by the climate are, by definition, a global problem, these meetings will continue to be necessary if we want to avoid falling once and for all into the vortex of every man for himself.”