Climate talks head for overtime with key issues unresolved

MADRID (AP) – Officials from almost 200 countries scrambled on Friday to reach an agreement at a UN climate meeting in Madrid amid growing concerns that key issues may be postponed for another year.

With the prospect of overtime looming, negotiators split their work into two parts, separating discussions on aid for poor countries affected by climate change from those over a deal on international carbon markets.

“We are reaching the final hours of the process,” said Chile’s Environment Minister Carolina Schmidt, who is chairing the talks.

“Now is the time we must show the world that we are capable to get to consensus and agreement that are needed to tackle the crisis that we are facing all over the world,” Schmidt said.

“Some issues have progressed more than others, but there was a general optimism that landing zones were beginning to emerge,” she added.

Germany’s environment minister said a decision overnight by European Union (EU) leaders in Brussels to make the bloc ” climate neutral” by 2050 would provide a boost to negotiations in the Spanish capital with just hours left before the official end.

“With this, we can convince other major economies to join in and show how they want to reduce carbon emissions,” Svenja Schulze told The Associated Press.

While agreeing new, tougher emissions targets for meeting the goals of the 2015 Paris climate accord isn’t officially on the agenda in Madrid, observers say a strong signal of ambition will help rally nations ahead of the deadline for doing so next year.

“The European decision was incredibly important,” said Helen Mountford of the Washington-based World Resources Institute, an environmental think tank.

People shout slogans during a march organised by the Fridays for Future international movement of school students outside of the COP25 climate talks congress in Madrid, Spain. PHOTO: AP