U.S. differences in efforts to combat greenhouse gasses were on display at a global climate gathering in Madrid, highlighting difficulties in reaching a global accord. 

Delegates at the U.N. climate change conference are trying to get a handle on greenhouse emissions at record high levels. Differences between countries, and within them, are putting an agreement farther out of reach. 

The participants of COP25 are supposed to hammer out the rules governing the 2015 Paris Accord. The goal of limiting the global rise in temperatures to less than 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century is becoming more remote by the day as greenhouse emissions grow. 

The summit has highlighted the divide in the U.S., where states, cities and businesses are taking the lead in curbing greenhouse gas emissions while President Trump has started the process to withdraw the country, the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter after China, from the Paris Accord. Differences among candidates for U.S. president were also on display.

“We want the rest of the world to know that Americans are continuing to lead on climate change — even with a climate denier in the White House,” said Mike Bloomberg, former New York City and Democratic presidential candidate, in Madrid.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appeared at the summit, while the official U.S. government delegation includes no senior officials. Former Secretary of State John Kerry, who helped broker the Paris Accord, and former Vice President Al Gore are also attending. 

The absence of any White House representative at the conference “speaks for itself,” Kerry said.

Bloomberg and the other Democratic presidential candidates are calling for America’s re-entry to the accord. Bloomberg called for an end to fossil fuel subsidies.

Global fossil-fuel subsidies amounted to a mammoth $5.2 trillion (6.5% of GDP)  in 2015, the International Monetary Fund reported this year. The U.S. subsidized fossil fuels by $649 billion in 2015, only surpassed by China, which spent $1.4 trillion.

The climate talks are scheduled to end on Friday.

  • Governments aren’t taking sufficient action to curb climate change, according to the Climate Action Tracker. Under current pledges, the world will warm by 2.8 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, the report showed.
  • Investors with $37 trillion in assets came together to urge the leaders gathered in Madrid to take action on climate change, the Financial Times reported.