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Disappointment as marathon climate talks end with slim deal

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Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Activists protest outside of the COP25 climate talks congress in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019. The United Nations Secretary-General has warned that failure to tackle global warming could result in economic disaster. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

MADRID – Marathon U.N. climate talks ended Sunday with a slim compromise that sparked widespread disappointment, after major polluters resisted calls for ramping up efforts to keep global warming at bay and negotiators postponed debate about rules for international carbon markets for another year.

Organizers kept delegates from almost 200 nations in Madrid far beyond Friday's scheduled close of the two-week talks. In the end, negotiators endorsed a general call for greater efforts to tackle climate change and several measures to help poor countries respond and adapt to its impacts.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said he was “disappointed” by the meeting's outcome.

“The international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation and finance to tackle the climate crisis,” he said. “We must not give up and I will not give up.”

The final declaration cited an “urgent need” to cut planet-heating greenhouse gases in line with the goals of the landmark 2015 Paris climate change accord. But it fell far short of explicitly demanding that countries submit bolder emissions proposals next year, which developing countries and environmentalists had demanded.

The Paris accord established a common goal of keeping temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit), ideally 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century. So far, the world is on course for a 3- to 4-degree Celsius rise, with potentially dramatic consequences for many countries, including rising sea levels and fiercer storms.

After two nights of fractious negotiations, delegates in Madrid decided to defer some of the thorniest issues to the next U.N. climate summit in Glasgow in November.

Chile's Environment Minister Carolina Schmidt, who chaired the meeting, said she was “sad” no deal had been reached on the rules for international trading in carbon emissions permits.