COP25, the annual global climate summit that ended last weekend in Madrid, offered a visible public spectacle, but little substantive progress.
Part of the problem was that the summit — technically known as the 25th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention to Combat Climate Change (UNFCCC) — was really not one summit, but three disconnected meetings happening in the same city and at the same time.
First, the streets of Madrid were filled with the visible energy and urgency of public protests.
Second, accredited observers of the official process gathered for conversations marked by real ambition and significant expertise.
Finally, formal diplomatic negotiations among state representatives were plagued with delays, stalling tactics, and political reluctance.