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On Sunday afternoon, two weeks of talks at the UN COP25 climate conference in Madrid ended with a recognition of the need for much deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, but few concrete commitments made towards reductions.

During the talks, representatives of governments from over 190 countries were frequently reminded that the world is far off meeting targets set in Paris in 2015 to hold global average temperatures to no more than 2C above pre-industrial levels, which is regarded by scientists as the outer limit of safety.

Leadership on climate goals came from the EU, which agreed an objective of reaching net zero carbon by 2050.  Lots of smaller countries committed to similar targets, but some of the major emitters failed to make further pledges.  It was recognised that long-term plans stretching 30 years are not enough and that it is essential that commitments are made for making significant cuts in the next ten years.

However, too much time at the talks was spent picking over technical details, with major emitters like the US, Brazil, China and Australia being accused of delaying progress.

Research published during the talks has shown that greenhouse gas emissions have risen 4% since the Paris agreement was signed in 2015 and that global greenhouse gas emissions need to be cut by 7% a year for the next decade to limit global temperature increases.

The COP26 climate conference will take place in Glasgow in November 2020.  On the basis of COP25, it will be an uphill struggle to achieve the results the world needs.

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