Taking stock after a 4 year Pause
On December 2nd the 2019 UN Climate Conference began in Madrid, Spain. Called COP25, this Madrid Conference is the first worldwide meeting focusing on the climate crisis since 2015’s COP21—also known as the Paris Climate Agreement. The Chilean Government is heading the Conference with Minister of Environment of Chile Carolina Schmidt acting as Conference President. As locational hosts, the Spanish government is also helping the Conference with logistical matters.
Shortly before the Conference began, the World Meteorologist Organization released a report showing that the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere is at an all time high. Around the same time, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres set the tone of the meeting by claiming that the “point of no return is no longer over the horizon.” This is but a glimpse of what is at stake at COP25.
Over the next two weeks, the Conference expects to receive over 29,000 guests, among them are fifty heads of states and representatives from over two-hundred nations. As for the United States, President Donald Trump and key members of his administration have been absent from the event so far. However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi entered the meeting with a strong message of reassurance. Beside a team of fifteen U.S. Democratic lawmakers, Pelosi promised the UN that America is still on board with the fight against climate change, even through President Trump recently withdrew the nation from the Paris Climate Accord.
When COP21 took place four years ago, President Obama was still in office, and he agreed to cooperate with the conditions set about at the Conference. These conditions included keeping global temperatures levels within no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, limiting greenhouse gas emissions to what is naturally sustainable, and wealthier countries supporting developing nations in their switch to renewable energy
Trump’s Oil Driven Agenda Rejected by Pelosi and her Constituents
After Trump entered office in 2016, though, his conservative administration immediately campaigned to pull America out of these terms. Prioritizing the U.S. economy and wanting to support domestic fossil fuel producers, Trump officially removed America from the plan in November.
Pelosi’s opening message on behalf of the American government is therefore a bold one, going against the intentions and outlook of the country’s sitting president. Nevertheless, it is one that both Americans and people across the world can take comfort in. After China, the United States produces more carbon dioxide than any other country. Thus, our participation in the battle against climate change is crucial if worldwide change is ever to be achieved.
Also within the first day at the conference, leaders from the European Union spoke up, expressing the bloc’s concern for the environment and its eagerness to prioritize the issue going forward. Overall, the rhetoric is strong on day one.. all the same, this is only the beginning, the tasks are daunting and there is lots of work left to do.
Even if we as a planet do come to a diplomatic agreement on how to lower our carbon footprint, there is no guarantee that every nation will live up to expectations. Although the outlook for international cooperation seemed promising immediately following the Paris Conference, five years later, progress has been halting and breakthroughs hard to some by. 2019 is still expected to be one of the hottest years on record, and the 2010s will undoubtedly be the warmest decade of all time.
The Conference will continue through Friday, December 13th. By that time, the world will hopefully have made some progress toward an intergovernmental plan for how to attack this global challenge. Far more will, in any event be needed, as a plan, however well intentioned, is only as good as the action it evokes.
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