Science & Environment

COP25 Climate change talks: 'We’ve lost an important opportunity’

Officials at the UN Climate Change Conference in Madrid, 15 December Image copyright AFP
Image caption The longest UN Climate Change Conference ended on Sunday

Record UN climate talks in Madrid have ended in a compromise deal on cutting greenhouse gas emissions which left many disappointed.

Here are key quotes from leaders, experts and activists on the UN Climate Change Conference (COP25) outcome.

Antonio Guterres, UN secretary general

"I am disappointed with the results of COP25. The international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation and finance to tackle the climate crisis."

Carolina Schmidt, Chilean environment minister and conference president

"The consensus is still not there to increase ambition to the levels that we need. Before finishing I want to make a clear and strong call to the world to strengthen political will and accelerate climate action to the speed that the world needs. The new generations expect more from us."

Laurence Tubiana, one of the architects of the Paris Agreement

"Major players who needed to deliver in Madrid did not live up to expectations but thanks to a progressive alliance of small island states, European, African and Latin American countries, we obtained the best possible outcome, against the will of big polluters."

Alden Meyer, strategy chief at the Union of Concerned Scientists

"Never have I seen such a disconnect between what the science requires and what the climate negotiations are delivering in terms of meaningful action. Most of the world's biggest emitting countries are missing in action and resisting calls to raise their ambition."

Krista Mikkonen, Finnish environment minister and EU representative at the conference

"It seems that the EU now needs to be the leader and we want to be and we are going to be and that is what we are doing."

Jair Bolsonaro, president of Brazil

"I'd like to know: has there been a resolution for Europe to be reforested, or are they just going to keep bothering Brazil?"

Mohamed Nasr, Egyptian delegate speaking on behalf of African countries

"Colleagues and parties who are calling for more ambition, who are saying that environmental integrity is the core, that are calling for the climate emergency, if you are not in line with a discussion on climate finance... please relook at your positions. We are not here to have very nice statements and people start applauding and clapping for nice words. We are here to work and make sure that we deliver the right package, to enhance the ambition and move forward."

Kera Sherwood O'Regan, Indigenous Peoples Organisations

"We can't help but feel the irony of your refusal to include human rights and indigenous people's rights in Article Six [of the Paris agreement] when we know that market approaches have already directly harmed our communities. Our knowledge cannot be upheld if our rights are not upheld. You treat negotiations like a zero sum game where you make deals behind closed doors, trading off our rights for the profits of the very corporations who caused this problem in the first place. But you forget that we cannot negotiate with nature."

Ian Fry, Tuvalu representative

"There are millions of people all around the world who are already suffering from the impacts of climate change. Denying this fact could be interpreted by some to be a crime against humanity."

Sir David King, British government representative at the 2015 Paris climate talks

"If the United States is not backing an agreement that is meaningful it is extraordinarily difficult for the rest of the world to come to an agreement. And I'm afraid as long as we have [President Donald] Trump in the United States with President [Jair] Bolsonaro in Brazil it is extraordinarily difficult to get all of those countries to agree."

Li Shuo, Greenpeace East Asia policy adviser

"COP25 demonstrated the collective ambition fatigue of the world's largest [greenhouse gas] emitters."

Adam Currie, youth climate organisation Generation Zero

"We are tired of governments siding with the polluters. We are tired of our lives being negotiated away for money. The people are tired of being ignored while a handful of wreckers and bullies negotiate in bad faith. We know that until we get them out of power they will continue to sabotage our future."

Alexandria Villasenor, 14, climate activist interviewed by AFP

"The difference between the youth on the streets and the negotiations is that the youth on the streets are acting with urgency. COP25 has failed us and it's another year of failure."

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