Delays deny the world the justice of climate action

On the conclusion of the UN climate talks in Madrid, Spain, IIED director Andrew Norton said:
Press release, 15 December 2019

“Determination to rise to the challenge we all face has averted a near victory for the polluters. But the days of accepting compromise as progress is 20 years out of date, and the vulnerable countries held firm. 

“The paralysing delays, bargaining and denial by just a few countries are forcing millions of women, children and men to battle the floods, drought, rising waters and forest fires with limited support – or flee their homes in search of safer ground. They and the rest of the world look to leaders for honest commitments of real action and solutions – not betrayal and insult. 

“To weaken the progress made on such crucial issues as increasing financial support for the loss and damage that the poorest people face on the frontline of the climate crisis is unforgivable.

“Scrapping the progress achieved on agreement of a standard system for measuring climate action and on carbon offsetting undermines years of work to meet the Paris Agreement’s goals. This must be reversed over the coming year. 

“Although some governments – particularly the least developed countries and all of the European Union countries – are rising to the challenge, the United States, Brazil, China, Australia and Saudi Arabia are blocking progress, further delaying the world the justice the Paris Agreement promised.

“It is important that in the final hours the meeting reaffirmed the need for governments to increase their measures to cut emissions and raise ambition to tackle climate change. But it is not enough. 

“This was the meeting for real action. For committed and effective change. For governments to unite and throw away short-term interest in favour of long-term benefit. Instead, it chose the most dangerous path of delay as temperatures continue to rise.”


For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Beth Herzfeld, IIED head of media, on +44 (0)7557 658 482 or email

Notes to editors

  • IIED estimates less than 10% – US$1 in $10 – of the $17 billion climate finance committed from international climate funds by 2016 were prioritised for local-level activities. Read ‘Delivering real change: getting international climate finance to the local level
  • Too little international climate finance is reaching the local level where people need it most. IIED, for example, found that struggling families in rural Bangladesh spend almost $2 billion a year on preventing climate-related disasters or repairing damage caused by climate change. This is twice as much as the Bangladesh government and nearly 12 times the amount Bangladesh receives in multilateral international climate financing in absolute terms, according to the latest data. Read ‘Bearing the climate burden: how households in Bangladesh are spending too much'
  • The Least Developed Countries suffer seven in ten of the deaths from extreme climate events
  • IIED is a policy and action research organisation. It promotes sustainable development to improve livelihoods and protect the environments on which these livelihoods are built. IIED specialises in linking local priorities to global challenges. Based in London, UK it works in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and the Pacific, with some of the world's most vulnerable people to strengthen their voice in the decision-making arenas that affect them – from village councils to international conventions.

For more information or to request an interview, contact Simon Cullen: 
+44 7503 643332 or