COP25 to push harder against global warming?

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Madrid is hosting the 25th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP25), a last-minute change of venue. The change, the third, doesn't alter the urgency of the need to tackle climate change.

The hosting fell to Chile after Brazil pulled out as host, then Chilean President Sebastián Piñera pulled out just a month ahead of the event due to the massive political upheaval in his country. When Brazil backed out, The New York Times described the withdrawal as the latest signal that Latin America’s largest nation no longer aspired to be an influential player in efforts to mitigate the effects of a warming planet.

In an audit of the Paris agreement, released in Oct 2017, the UN Environment Program reported that if action to combat climate change is limited to just the current pledges, Earth will get at least 3° C warmer by 2100 (relative to preindustrial levels). This amount of warming, blamed mainly on carbon emissions, would vastly exceed the Paris goal of 2° C.

The December event will work to fortify rules set at COP24 in Poland and build on stronger commitments UN Secretary-General António Guterres was able to wrest from leaders at the UN Climate Summit in Sep 2019.

At the Paris climate conference (COP21) in Dec 2015, 195 countries adopted the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate deal. The COP24 accord, reached by 196 states in Poland in Dec 2018, adds muscle. It provides common rules for all signatories – regulations that will govern how they cut carbon emissions, provide finance to poorer nations and provide ways to check that countries are keeping their promises. The COP24 agreement stops short of committing the countries to the more ambitious emissions reductions necessary to slow climate change.

The results of COP24 underwhelmed environmental advocates Global Witness. The group described itself as “shocked at the level of greenwashing (the practice of making an unsubstantiated or misleading claim about the environmental benefits of a product, service, technology or company practice), the influence of the fossil fuel companies in the talks, and the sheer volume of empty words.” Coal, oil and gas companies participated in 31 side events during the conference, according to Global Witness, including side events by Shell, the sponsorship of the conference by a huge Polish coal company, and several events by gas lobby group Gasnaturally.

COP25 is a major event for Madrid, as it brings in some 20,000 participants.

What is the Paris Agreement? (United Nations)

Current Climate Pledges Aren't Enough to Stop Severe Warming (Nat Geo Oct 2017)

Katowice: COP24 Climate change deal to bring pact to life (BBC Dec 2019)

COP25: Chile announces dates of world’s most important climate change summit (Santiago Times Mar 2019)

Chile doubles Santiago’s electric bus fleet (Santiago Times Mar 2018)

Date written/update: 2019-11-05