The international climate summit here has been billed by its chief organizer as the “last, best hope” to save the planet. But as the United Nations conference enters its second week and negotiators from 197 countries knuckle down to finalize a new agreement to tackle global warming, attendees were sharply divided over how much progress is being made.
There’s the optimistic view: Heads of state and titans of industry showed up in force last week with splashy new climate promises, a sign that momentum was building in the right direction.
“I believe what is happening here is far from business as usual,” said John Kerry, President Biden’s special envoy on climate change, who has been attending U.N. climate summits since 1992. “I have never counted as many initiatives and as much real money — real money — being put on the table….”
Then there’s the pessimistic view: All these gauzy promises mean little without concrete plans to follow through. And that’s still lacking. Or, as the Swedish activist Greta Thunberg put it, the conference has mostly consisted of “blah, blah, blah.”
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