Former Mundus maris treasurer Marianne Braun Richter (left) was among the many volunteers in Madrid rising to the challenge of helping to organise COP25 on short notice from 2 to 13 December 2019 after the Chilean government pulled the plug because of civil unrest in response to antisocial policies.

There was certainly no shortage of enthusiasm among the participants in the many technical side events, the scientists forcefully pointing to the research results which demonstrated the urgency of action and the civil society representatives adding their voice to the chorus in favour of climate protection. 

Most official delegations also argued in favour of action. Developing countries pointedly complained that they were already suffering from climate change effects which they had barely contributed to create and asked for action to prevent even worse as well as compensation for damages.

On Friday, 6 December citizens took to the streets in Madrid and other places again to call for action.

But some of the official texts had apparently not been negotiated in sufficient detail in advance.As a result, at the end of the second week of the Conference, intended to finalise the political agreement, new issues erupted about carbon markets. The Green Deal presented by the European Union to bring back a constructive dynamic into the negotiation process was not strong enough a signal.

The breakdown occurred even after negotiators worked more than 40 hours past the official close of the talks in the attempt to reach a resolution. Instead some delegations dug in their heels, among them Brazil and its supporters. So the long hours and sleepless nights didn't yield agreement on the last piece of the Paris Agreement's rulebook.

With so much at stake, the remaining stumbling block turned out to be Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, which deals with carbon trading and offsets even as other thorny issue were laid to rest.

The weak agreement pushed through at the end makes big concessions to polluters and narrows the time window remaining to make the necessary changes to current emission regimes which look like taking planet earth into unchartered territory of 3 to 4°C temperature increase. Even more efforts and much stronger commitments will now be required at the next COP in Scotland to take us back from the brink. Stiff lip reporting by the UN.