With extreme weather happening all over the globe, 29,000 United Nations’ delegates will converge in Madrid, Spain, for COP25 – the annual United Nations two-week international climate change conference.
United Nations’ Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Sunday on the eve of COP25 that the world’s efforts to stop climate change have been “utterly inadequate” and there is a danger global warming could pass the “point of no return.”
Seven days before COP25, as reported by The CEO Magazine, a United Nations’ World Meteorological Organisation report indicated greenhouse gas concentrations rose again in 2018, with carbon dioxide levels hitting 407.8 parts per million, a new record in human history.
Guterres said the impact of rising temperatures is already being felt around the world, with dramatic consequences for humans and other species.
He added the world has the scientific knowledge and technical means to limit global warming.
“What is still lacking is political will,” he said. “Political will to put a price on carbon. Political will to stop subsidies on fossil fuels. Political will to stop building coal power plants from 2020 onwards. Political will to shift taxation from income to carbon. Taxing pollution instead of people.”
The first United Nations diplomatic conference to tackle climate change was in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Since the carbon dioxide level in the air has jumped from about 358 parts per million to nearly 412, a 15% rise in 27 years, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which also states the global average temperature rose 0.57 degrees Celsius in 27 years.
In addition, emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide from fossil fuel and industry jumped from 6.06 billion metric tons of carbon in 1992 to 9.87 billion metric tons in 2017, a 63% increase in 25 years, according to the Global Carbon Project. That’s a 63% increase in 25 years.
“The point of no return is no longer over the horizon,” Guterres said at the headquarters of COP25reported AP News. “It is in sight and hurtling toward us.”
Delegates from almost 200 countries will try to put the finishing touches on the rules governing the 2015 Paris climate accord at the 2-13 December meeting, including how to create functioning international emissions trading systems and how to compensate poor countries for losses they suffer from rising sea levels and other consequences of climate change.
Guterres cited mounting scientific evidence for the impact of man-made emissions and greenhouse gases are having on the planet, including record temperatures and melting polar ice, insisting his message was “one of hope, not of despair. Our war against nature must stop and we know that that is possible.”
Countries agreed in Paris four years ago to limit global warming to well below two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit), ideally 1.5C (2.7F) by the end of the century compared with pre-industrial times. Already, average temperatures have increased by about 1C, leaving little room for the more ambitious target to be met.
Guterres said growing demands from citizens, particularly young people, have shown there is widespread desire for climate action.
Guterres noted some 70 countries — many among the most vulnerable to climate change — have pledged to stop emitting more greenhouse gases by 2050.
“But we also see clearly that the world’s largest emitters are not pulling their weight. And without them, our goal is unreachable,” he said.
The UN chief said he hoped the meeting in Madrid would see governments make more ambitious pledges ahead of a deadline to do so next year, adding that creating a worldwide market for emissions, which is a key element of the sixth article of the Paris accord, remained one of the most contentious issues for negotiators.
“We are here to find answers for article six, not to find excuses,” Guterres said.
Fifty heads of state and government will attend the opening of COP25, together with scientists, seasoned negotiators and activists. Some of the world’s largest carbon emitters — the US, China and India — will be represented by ministers or lower-level officials. US President Donald Trump has announced its his intention to withdraw the US from the Paris agreement.
More than 5,000 police officers are charged with keeping the summit safe. Although authorities have stepped-up border controls and cybersecurity measures, authorities have kept the country’s terror alert one level under the highest, where it has been ever since extremist attacks in Tunisia and France in mid-2015.