United Nations climate conference opens in Madrid

United Nations climate change conference (COPR25) officially opened in Madrid yesterday (Monday 2 December). Over 25,000 representatives from 200 countries are expected at the IFEMA convention centre for COP25 over the next two weeks (2-13 December) including 50 heads of state. The event was scheduled to take place in Chile but was moved due to civil unrest in the country.

Delegates from 200 countries are expected to lay the framework for a new phase of climate action with intentions reach agreements and substantiate commitments between nations to fight against the effects of climate change.

This is the latest round of annual negotiations to bolster the 2015 Paris agreement (COP21) to curb global warming. This is the final opportunity for delegates to review actions that will be implemented from January 2020.

Carolina Schmidt, Minister for the Environment in Chile was introduced as the new COP25 president by COP24 President, Michal Kurtyka, Secretary of State in Poland's Ministry of Energy and Environment. Kurtyka reflected on his year as president before formally passing on responsibilities to his successor Schmidt: “Maybe the world is not changing as we expected, but I have hope in my young people and their courage to fight against the catastrophic impact of climate change”. 

Although the summit is located in Spain, Chilean minister Carolina Schmidt will preside over the negotiations during the two-week event. Schmidt announced that a new plan for the sustainable management of the oceans will be developed as a key part of COP25 commenting: “this COP25 will be a ‘blue COP’”. She called for collective action: “Working together, we can face the greatest common challenge we face in the whole world - climate change”.

“Science is a key ally, not only in diagnosis, but also in creating solutions.”

COP25 is the final COP before the defining year of 2020, when many nations must submit new climate action plans. One of the key elements to be clarified is the financing of climate action worldwide.

Other key action points to be covered during the summit include carbon footprint mitigation (closing coal plants), elimination of single use plastics and circular economy and sustainability. The UN state that there is currently not enough being done to meet the three climate goals: reducing emissions 45 per cent by 2030; achieving climate neutrality by 2050 (which means a net zero carbon footprint), and stabilising global temperature rise at 1.5°C by the end of the century. 

Climate change is a ticking time bomb, the world cannot afford to waste more time. A strong, decisive, ambitious pathway forward needs to be agreed.

COP25: the figures

  • The 2019 Climate change conference (COP25), held in Madrid, has a cost of 50 million euros, less than half of the final bill for famous Paris climate agreement (COP21), which was almost 180 million euros.

  • COP25 is a two-week summit lasting until 13 December and will be attended by 25,000 people; 4,000 of the organisation's technical staff; 300 people hired by the Madrid Trade Fair Institution (IFEMA); 50 engineers at the network Coordination Centre; 2,000 daily volunteers and 1,500 accredited journalists.

The Summit will also be attended by the young climate activist Greta Thunberg, famous for her social impact in strikes such as the Fridays For Future movement.

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