Leaders pledge green revolution as UN climate summit opens in Madrid

Madrid: Leaders promised a green revolution on Monday as they arrived in Madrid from nearly 200 countries for a major United Nations climate summit, where their aim is to iron out rules to reach the agreed goal of limiting global warming under the Paris deal.
“Do we really want to be remembered as the generation that buried its head in the sand?” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres challenged leaders at the outset of the two-week Conference of the Parties (COP25).
The conference takes place as leaders face growing pressure to produce more than hot air on climate change.
Thousands of protesters gathered on Friday in cities from Australia to India and Europe, citing the “climate emergency” declared by EU lawmakers a day earlier and growing evidence of the dire consequences of global warming.
Heat is also coming from the Fridays for Future movement spearheaded by Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg.
And around the world, death tolls are climbing due to storms, fires and other extreme weather events.
Guterres laid out two paths for leaders when it came to enacting climate change measures: the path of hope — or surrender.
The path of hope involves using less fossil fuel and reaching carbon neutrality by 2050, he said.
Guterres has admonished that cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases that have been agreed so far under the 2015 Paris agreement were “utterly inadequate” to limit temperature rises to a goal of between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The conference began with the passing of the presidency to Carolina Schmidt, Chile’s environment minister. The summit had been set to take place in Chile, but was abruptly relocated to Spain after anti-government protests rocked the country.
The goals of COP25 are to prepare ambitious national goals for 2020, build alliances and strengthen belief in climate protection action. Inaction will prove more costly than a proactive approach, said Ursula von der Leyen, the new President of the European Commission, on her second day in office as the head of the EU executive.
The commission is to unveil its new flagship environmental plan — the European Green Deal — in 10 days, according to Von der Leyen. Although no minister from Germany attended the opening day, as ministerial negotiations take place during the conference’s second week, Environment Minister Svenja Schulze echoed Von der Leyen’s remarks.
— dpa