COP25 2019 week one review & overview of insights from Madrid.

By December 10, 2019 No Comments

The world has been awoken this past week by the vast output from COP25.

Originally to be set in Chile, yet due to civil unrest in their country, Madrid took up the mantle & with some logistical changes, hosted the first week of COP25 commencing 2nd December 2019.

Countries from across the globe came together last week to share ideas, to learn about new scientific advancement, advisories, to attend seminars, conferences & to gather as much information as was possible; to ensure that their own countries were able to learn & act with urgency in relation to Planet Earth’s climate emergency.

As always, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres opened proceedings with a call for nations & policy makers across the globe to be accountable for their emissions & their climate impact:

“I expect a clear demonstration of increased Climate Action ambition & commitment out of COP25. Leaders of all countries need to show accountability & responsibility. Anything less wold be a betrayal of our entire human family and all generations to come.” Antonio Guterres (1)

The Secretary General continued with a stark warning of the outcomes of a planet which does not act now & does not act for the people & planet itself:

“To address the climate emergency, we need a rapid & deep change in how we do business, how we generate power, how we build cities, how we move and how we feed the world. If we don’t urgently change our way of life, we jeopardize life itself.”  Antonio Guterres (1)

During the first week of COP25, the outpouring of information from attendees, conferences & associated materials throughout online platforms has been vast. We have collated just a few of the key ideas & presentations to give a snapshot of the important & relevant information from COP25.

On Monday 2nd December the opening statements were made by some of the leading UN representatives & outlined the format of the following fortnight.

Antonio Guterres was clear about his expectations & outcomes from the latest scientific research on climate change & laid the responsibility for action squarely at the World Leaders feet:

“All our Climate Action efforts will be completely undermined without the full engagement of the big emitters.We are still waiting for transformative movement from most G20 countries, which represent three-quarters of global emissions” (1)

With recognition that the largest polluters & emissions emitters are from the developed world; some of the focus of COP25 is to address how the balance can be restored, with the largest emitters being called on to fund developing countries. Antonio Guterres, having witnessed first hand the devastation in Mozambique & other developing countries; has estimated “$100B from the biggest carbon emitters, to help those most vulnerable” (1)

On Wednesday, the World Meteorological Organisation released it’s special report on the state of the global climate at COP25.

The WMO cited the last 10 years were the hottest 10 year period on record & records showing that since the 1980’s, each decade following, has been hotter than the previous one.

‘The WMO provisional statement on the State of the Global Climate, says that the global average temperature in 2019 (January to October) was about 1.1 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial period.(2)

Concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere hit a record level of 407.8 parts per million in 2018 and continued to rise in 2019. CO2 lasts in the atmosphere for centuries and the ocean for even longer, thus locking in climate change.’ (2)

“If we do not take urgent climate action now, then we are heading for a temperature increase of more than 3°C by the end of the century, with ever more harmful impacts on human wellbeing,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. “We are nowhere near on track to meet the Paris Agreement target.” (2)

The IPCC presented two reports last week at COP25. The Special Report on Climate Change & Land & the Special Report on Ocean & Cryosphere in a Changing Climate.

The IPCC SROCC report which covers vast scientific data sets, has used far reaching scientific evidence to prove that “It is virtually certain that the global ocean has warmed unabated since 1970 and has taken up more than 90% of the excess heat in the climate system (high confidence). Since 1993, the rate of ocean warming has more than doubled (likely). Marine heatwaves have very likely doubled in frequency since 1982 and are increasing in intensity (very high confidence). By absorbing more CO2, the ocean has undergone increasing surface acidification (virtually certain). A loss of oxygen has occurred from the surface to 1000 m (medium confidence).” (3)

In addition the evidence regarding heightened sea levels is reported as  “Global mean sea level (GMSL) is rising, with acceleration in recent decades due to increasing rates of ice loss from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets (very high confidence), as well as continued glacier mass loss and ocean thermal expansion. Increases in tropical cyclone winds and rainfall, and increases in extreme waves, combined with relative sea level rise, exacerbate extreme sea level events and coastal hazards (high confidence).” (3)

The report goes on to the cite that marine life in the oceans & cryosphere, have in some areas flourished & grown, but in other areas have had to change their geographical range and seasonal activities.

Patricia Espinosa C – Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change brought another consideration to the table in the first week of COP25.

“The travel and tourism sector, with its significant economic and social benefits, has no choice but to transform to survive and thrive in the face of climate change & the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is helping the USD 8.8 trillion industry to go climate neutral”

The travel & tourism sector has already been affected by the impact of anthropogenic climate change. Only this week it was reported that Victoria Falls located in southern Africa’s Zambezi river which normally cascades down 100 metres; has been turned to a trickle following the worst drought in years. Although there is no direct proof or correlation between the drought & climate change; the after effects are already having an affect on the tourism income for the area.

The global tourism industry accounts for 10.4% of the Global Gross Domestic product. However, it also accounts for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore in the face of millions of jobs being affected by dramatic changes in the travel & tourism industries;

“Thanks to this sector, millions of people have been able to explore new destinations, reunite with family and friends, and fulfill dreams of exploring the world,” said Ms. Espinosa at an event organized by the industry group World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). “As well, it has created jobs, most significantly in developing countries, offering people financial freedom. It is truly a global economic powerhouse.”

“With this sort of success, why should you change what you have been doing? Frankly, because you have no choice. None of us does,” said Ms. Espinosa. (4)

The above is only a mere snapshot of the information which has come from the first week of COP25 & as COP25 enters it’s second week, the focus is drawn to indigenous peoples & the affects of climate migration.

Written by Katy-Jane Mason for & on behalf of Dolphin N2

  1. @AntonioGuterres Twitter Monday 2nd Dec 2019.
  2. https://public.wmo.int/en/media/press-release/2019-concludes-decade-of-exceptional-global-heat-and-high-impact-weather
  3. https://report.ipcc.ch/srocc/pdf/SROCC_SPM_Approved.pdf
  4. https://unfccc.int/news/travel-tourism-must-transform-to-survive-thrive