"There is little progress given the gravity of the situation"

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Valérie Masson-Delmotte, in 2018.
Valérie Masson-Delmotte, in 2018. JUNG YEON-JE / AFP

Valérie Masson-Delmotte, paleoclimatologist, director of research at the French Atomic Energy Commission and co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) analyzes the conclusions of the conference on climate that has just ended at Madrid, as well as the "green deal" presented on December 11 by the European Commission.

What conclusions do you draw from COP25, which ended on Sunday 15 December, in Madrid?

Valérie Masson-Delmotte: I can only note the discrepancy between the lack of progress and the gravity of the situation as shown in the latest IPCC reports (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), yet mentioned in the final declaration.

I was at the COP for ten days to present the last two reports, one on the ocean and the cryosphere and the other on climate change and land use. We encountered great interest in these new scientific elements, with several hours in plenary session and many interesting questions. Several high-level meetings were also held on ocean governance, linked to climate issues. We will, of course, have to see what happens next. On land management, it will be necessary to follow the revision, next year, of the national contributions on this question.

Read also COP25: a conference on the climate to forget

There are, however, some positive points that can be highlighted, such as the invitation to use information from the 2019 IPCC special reports, which was not the case last year. We can also note the mention of "Just transitions", the gender action plan (gender equality and women's empowerment) in relation to climate action, or the need to take biodiversity loss and climate change into account in an integrated manner … But, finally , there are few concrete advances.

We especially note the absence of agreement on the mechanisms of the carbon market. This point 6 of the Paris agreement (signed in December 2015) was a hard point of the discussions, with the countries which received generous emission allowances, within the framework of the agreements of Kyoto (signed in 1997 and entered into force in 2005) and who want to keep them. Observers from the last phase of negotiations – of which I was not a member – underlined the deep bottlenecks emanating in particular from Brazil and Australia.

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