Monday, December 16th, 2019


If the sign of success for a negotiation is when no one gets what they want, then the COP25 climate conference, just ended, was an unabashed triumph. The global gathering in Madrid yielded little of substance, from my vantage point. And the post-mortem analyses that have been flooding my in-box suggest that it was an epic failure on multiple fronts.

The New York Times headline summed it up pretty well: "U.N. Climate Talks End with Big Polluters Blocking Stronger Action." United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres offered his own blunt assessment, tweeting, “I am disappointed with the results of #COP25.” Strong words from a diplomat.

The “big polluters” referred to by the Times are countries, not companies, though political leaders from the United States, Brazil, China and other major economies were undoubtedly influenced by their respective big-business interests. Oil and gas interests were reportedly more engaged than ever in the COP process, despite the growing protests against them.

Only the European Union seemed to lean into the process, announcing its own Green Deal. It is expected to eventually become a legally binding commitment by the EU to reach a net-zero emissions target by 2050, and it promises a radical transformation of the trading bloc's economy over the next 30 years. It would see the EU fully decarbonize while creating green jobs in new low-carbon industries.

That relatively good piece of news — just a proposal, mind you, not yet a plan — further highlighted the abysmal failure among the planet’s other nations to achieve any kind of meaningful progress on addressing the advancing climate crisis.

Many of COP25’s key issues were left unsettled, with negotiations effectively scuttled by large economies and their fossil-fuel interests. The urgent action and higher ambition hoped for by scientists, the youth movement, climate activists and others were essentially kicked to the curb.

My column this week looks at the outcomes from COP25, as well as the lack thereof, and what happens next. Read on here.

Coming up:

  • I'll be hosting a webcast on Tuesday, Dec. 17 titled "Metrics, standards and disclosure: Inside the changing world of ESG," focusing on the cacophony of reporting metrics and standards confronting companies, not to mention the different levels and types of disclosure. To participate, register here.
  • GreenBiz 20 fall rates expire this Friday, Dec. 20. Register now to receive 20 percent off on-site rates. As a newsletter subscriber, you can get an extra 15 percent off by using the code GB20NL.
  • And coming up: We'll be launching the 2020 State of Green Business report, our 13th annual, on Jan. 13. To be the first to receive the report, and to participate in the launch webcast, register here.
  • One more thing: I'm taking a brief break next week. Look for your next GreenBuzz newsletter, Dec. 30. Until then, wishing you and yours a safe, reflective and restful holiday.

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