The World’s 25th Conference of the Parties (COP 25) concluded in Madrid at 1:55 PM, Sunday, December 15, 2019, having accomplished enough to merit the pile of horse manure left at its doorstep. Nearly 27,000 international delegates participated. One of the resulting press releases proclaims, “Heads of UN agencies met for a high-level Leadership Dialogue on how to turn the tide on deforestation and committed to the common goal of helping countries reduce deforestation and improve forest management.” Another states “Italy and Mexico committed to stepped-up climate and environmental education.” There is no indication that these, or any other measures, will be implemented. In her final address in the main plenary hall, Greta Thunberg described COP 25 as “some kind of opportunity for countries to negotiate loopholes.” Elizabeth May issued a press release calling the negotiations “brutal” and adding that any real progress was “blocked at this meeting by the negotiators representing Donald Trump’s America, Bolsonaro’s Brazil and Morrison’s Australia.”
According to a recent article in Scientific American, Global emissions will hit an all time high by the end of the year. Fossil fuels and industrial activities are expected to pump 36.8 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere; other human activities, including agriculture, will add another 6.3 billion metric tons.
“In 2019, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reported that 2015-2018 were the four warmest years on record, ocean heat content is at a record high, Arctic and Antarctic sea-ice extent is well below average, and extreme weather is impacting lives and sustainable development efforts on every continent. As a result of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions from the pre-industrial period to today, warming will persist for centuries to come and its associated impacts, such as sea level rise, will continue to affect natural and human systems.” – 25 Years of Adaptation under the UNFCCC– Report by the Adaptation Committee
“Changes in emissions (and estimated ranges) for 2018 compared to 2017 for major emitting countries and regions are (based on preliminary data): China +2.3%, the United States +2.8%, the European Union -2.1%, India +8.1%, and the Rest of the World +1.7%.” – GLOBAL ENERGY GROWTH IS OUTPACING DECARBONIZATION, Global Carbon Project
“In 2015, Governments agreed we aim to limit global warming at 1.5˚C. Since then the IPCC has confirmed the dire consequences, for all of us, if we don’t succeed. Yet after 25 years of COP talking-shops global emissions continue to rise. Millions of people have been displaced from their homes and countless have lost their lives. We remain on track for 4˚C warming, which would mean billions of us would die,” Miguel Rodríguez, spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion.
A recent Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change’s (IPCC) report states there is not much time left if we want to halt the rise of average global temperatures at 1.5 degrees celsius.
“Next year is the year of truth. The year when we must move decisively to an economy that really starts to reduce investments in fossil fuels,” said Johan Rockström, from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
Small Corporate Victories
- 86 fashion companies issued a public call to political leaders around the world to partner with them to deliver effective and ambitious climate action.
- “177 companies pledging to cut emissions in line with the 1.5C target as part of the Climate Ambition Alliance. This came after a group of 477 investors, controlling $34tn in assets, called on world leaders to update their NDCs and step up ambition.” – The Carbon Brief
Canada & the US
After our spectacular announcement that “Canada is back in the fight against Climate Change” in Paris four years ago, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was noticeably absent from Madrid. However Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson did make an appearance.
Similarly, House speaker Nancy Pelosi led a 15-member congressional delegation to Madrid, but there were no senior members of the Tump Administration present.
They Are Not Listening
“When you talk to people who are causing this [climate change] and they are not listening, it feels like you are wasting time,” Ugandan climate activist, Hilda Flavia Nakabuye, to CNN.
“This COP was a failure because many politicians and delegates protected the interests of the fossil fuel industry. Never has the disconnect from the scientific imperative been so wide. But the scale of people power was also unmatched,” states a report from 350.org.
There Is Hope
“Well, I am telling you there is hope. I have seen it. But it does not come from governments or corporations. It comes from the people. The people who have been unaware, but are not starting to wake up and once we become aware we change,” said Thunberg.
“Even though our federal government decided to leave the Paris agreement, governments, institutions, corporations around the US are fully still in and we are working together and with our partners around the world to make sure that those agreements are met,” Bill Peduto, the Democratic Mayor of Pittsburgh, told CNN in Madrid.