Saturday, 07 December, 2019


COP25 Opens in Madrid Amid Dire Warnings about Climate Change

Antonio Guterres UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks during a news conference at the COP25 summit in Madrid Spain Sunday Dec. 1 2019
Kristine Garrett | 02 December, 2019, 22:08

"That fiddled while the planet burned?" he said.

A key objective of COP25 is to take the next crucial steps in the United Nations climate change process as the global climate emergency intensifies and greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow.

This is putting the Earth on course to experience a temperature rise of 3.2 degrees Celsius by the end of this century, rather than the 1.5 degree goal set in the Paris Agreement.

"Countries must work together and commit to more ambitious goals", said Carolina Schmidt, the Chilean environment minister and chair of the current round of talks.

Expressing concern about the "alarming rate" at which greenhouse gas emissions are growing, the United Nations chief highlighted The Production Gap's finding that the world is set to produce 120 percent more fossil fuels over the next decade than what is consistent with a 1.5-degree pathway. "The United States has reduced all types of emissions, even as we grow our economy and ensure our citizens' access to affordable energy". Much of the focus this year will be on China, which burns half of the coal used globally each year, making it the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases.

Meanwhile, for all the considerable sustainability-friendly efforts from a tiny number of governments, including Morocco, the two-week Madrid summit comes as doubts continue about the concrete significance of big political events and on-paper commitments from world governments.

The United States rallied support for the Paris Agreement under the administration of former U.S. president Barack Obama.

Spain's acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, whose government stepped in to host the summit after unrest erupted in Chile, the original venue, urged delegates to take ambitious action to preserve the "fragile balance" of life on Earth. The U.S. technically remains a member until November 2020, and its officialcontingent in Madrid is led by Ambassador Marcia Bernicat, a senior State Department official.

"Our war against nature must stop, and we know that it is possible", Mr Guterres said on Sunday ahead of the December 2-13 summit.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and 14 other Democratic lawmakers are part of a delegation to the summit.

One of the conference's best-known attendees is on her way.

Teenage Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg, travelling to the conference across the Atlantic Ocean by catamaran, is now expected to land in Lisbon on Tuesday and reach Madrid by train or electric auto soon after.

But when COP25 was suddenly moved to Spain, Thunberg needed to find a boat heading to Europe, as she eschews air travel due to its high emissions. She hitched a ride with some YouTube-famous sailors, and is now slated to arrive in Lisbon, Portugal, on Tuesday morning.

Thunberg became an global celebrity in August 2018 when she had her first "climate strike" by skipping school to protest outside the Swedish parliament.

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