This year’s United Nations climate talks ended with a weak statement calling for greater efforts to tackle greenhouse emissions, a result that many observers, including U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, called a disappointment.

Hopes ran high two weeks ago when talks began in Madrid that agreements might be reached on binding emissions targets and rules of an international carbon market. The European Union said it would make a major diplomatic push to produce a significant outcome with delegates next year in Glasgow.

The Madrid conference was expected to agree on the rules governing the 2015 Paris Accord, which aims to limit the global rise in temperatures to less than 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. 

Climate activists said that governments were responsible for failing to respond with urgency to the growing climate crisis. The U.S., Brazil, Australia and Saudi Arabia were among the countries blamed for the failure to come up with a meaningful accord. President Trump has started the process to withdraw the U.S., the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter after China, from the Paris Accord.

Some companies are picking up where governments have failed. Goldman Sachs announced Monday that it won’t finance new oil projects in the Arctic or thermal coal projects anywhere as it overhauls its environmental policies. The investment bank pledged it would invest $750 billion in sustainable projects by 2030.

“The Trump administration may not care about ignoring the will of the American people or trampling Indigenous rights, but a growing number of major financial institutions are making it clear that they do,” Sierra Club campaign representative Ben Cushing said in a statement. “Goldman Sachs is right to recognize that destroying the Arctic Refuge would be bad business. We hope other American banks will follow their lead.” 

  • The EU announced its European Green Deal on Dec. 11. The package aims to make the continent carbon neutral by 2050.
  • The 20 warmest years on record have occurred in the past 22 years, with  2015-2018 being the four hottest, World Meteorological Organization said before the Madrid talks began.