The leader of the UN climate summit has defended his controversial comments that alarmed scientists and sent shockwaves through the meeting. In his closing speech on Saturday, COP25 President, Chile’s Environment Minister Carolina Schmidt, said “we have had a good COP”, and then went on to criticise those who had called for more ambitious emissions cuts. Her comments were immediately criticised by scientists and environmental groups, who argued that stronger commitments were needed quickly to avert runaway climate change.
In response, Mrs Schmidt clarified her comments, saying “I was referring to the reality that COP25 was never going to lead to the immediate and drastic emission cuts that are needed to keep warming below 1.5°C.” She added that “we need to remember the broader perspective – that we are in a race against time and all countries have to act now to ensure our planet does not exceed the temperature threshold.”
Mrs Schmidt also pointed out that, despite walking away from the summit without a binding agreement, targeted efforts from countries around the world had still been achieved. She noted that “agreements on forests, biodiversity, oceans, air quality, climate technology and energy efficiency were reached” and that countries have committed to make stronger commitments in the coming months.
Mrs Schmidt’s speech and comments have finally put to rest any debate about the success or failure of the COP25 summit. Her statements demonstrate that, while emissions have not been reduced sufficiently to keep warming within the 1.5°C limit, meaningful progress has been made and that the world is still on track to reach the targets set by the Paris Agreement.