The 80 countries that have committed to put forward stronger steps to curb climate change here at 2019 United Nations Climate Change (COP25) in Madrid are impressive. The event was supposed to take place in Chile but was moved due to civil unrest in the country. The Climate Summit was the last UN Climate Summit before 2020 when many nations must submit new climate action plans.
At COP25, U.N. Secretary General called explicitly for raising ambition by ending new coal plant construction globally by 2020 and a rapid phase-out of existing coal plants. Ambitious action to deliver on this goal would have significant emissions impacts, since coal is the most carbon-intensive type of fossil-fuel power plant.
Many of these projects, backed by foreign government financing from China, Japan, Korea, could become stranded assets as zero-carbon emission energy sources displace them. Shifting away from coal plants would also have significant health benefits as pollutants from coal plants are linked to severe air pollution, serious respiratory illnesses and other adverse health impacts.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that important decisions must be taken now to limit emissions that cause the greenhouse effect. Guterres claimed that the planet is close to the point of no return and urged all countries to be more ambitious and cut pollutant emissions as this is critical time to combat climate change.
Climate change’s ‘unequal’ impact on different countries and social groups has been marked by world leaders. Chilean environmental minister Carolina Schmidt claimed that the way climate change affects the world is unfair as it mainly hurts vulnerable people, communities and countries. US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi also mentioned that the climate crisis should be addressed in terms of economic and environmental justice for all.
We all believe that we have a moral responsibility to future generations to pass on this planet in a better way, the best possible way, Pelosi said during the opening ceremony. King of S`pain Felipe VI also pointed out that the most vulnerable are the most affected by the impact of global warming, exacerbating the risks and causes of social inequality, poverty and hunger.
He explained that, for the Spanish Government, the solution to climate change is greater solidarity and joint decisions to achieve shared solutions based on the clear, reliable and solid warnings of science. The path to decarbonisation was also highlighted as one of the main goals of states to fight climate change, one of the outstanding issues from the last climate summit held last year in Poland.
We need a rapid and profound change in the way Humanity does business, generates energy, builds cities, moves and feeds itself, eliminating our addiction to carbon, Antonio Guterres said. He urged especially to abandon fossil fuels and regulate carbon markets.
We must reach the Glasgow summit in 2020 (COP26) with much more ambitious national contributions and these long-term strategies must lead to orderly, fair and efficient decarbonization. Spain is ready to take that step forward, Spain’s acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is attending Madrid’s conference as her first official act. Von der Leyen has set high targets in the European Union’s policy to combat climate change, pledging to reduce the bloc’s carbon emissions by at least 50% by 2030.
Her first day at the helm, she repeated to journalists her objective to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050, meaning carbon emissions should be fully offset by measures that cut CO2, like planting trees.
In 10 days, the European Commission will present the EU GreenDeal. Our goal is to be the 1st climate-neutral continent by 2050. If we want to achieve that goal, we have to act and implement our policies now. Because we know that this transition needs a generational change, she said on Twitter. In order to face them, we must return to our roots: we must listen to each other to rebuild trust and dialogue with a willingness to change, she said during the ceremony.