MADRID — No Puerto Rico delegation took part in the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Madrid, but decisions made as the fractious two-week meeting came to a close on last Sunday could spell disaster for the territory if the United States and a handful of other large countries don’t change their ways, island nations said. “The big polluters and the countries that emit the most are not wanting to take responsibility or leadership,” said Ramón Cruz, a Puerto Rican expert in climate change and international relations and vice president of the Sierra Club, adding, “We’re living the effects of the climate emergency and they’re not standing up to the problem.”
As a US territory, Puerto Rico — which was named the country that suffered the most from extreme events from 1999 to 2018 in the 2020 Global Climate Risk Index — is not allowed to send its own delegation to participate in the crucial annual negotiations. “It’s very difficult for us to really play any part in it because we’re represented there technically by the US, and the US could not care less about Puerto Rico,” said Mr. Cruz. Under President Donald Trump, he added, the US hindered progress at the talks even though it plans to withdraw next year from the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement, which commits nations around the world to work toward cutting carbon emissions enough to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. “It was really unfortunate that the Trump administration was throwing so many wrenches in the process even though they don’t want to engage,” said Mr. Cruz.