UN climate summit a stepping stone to crucial 2020

Negotiators from 200 countries will descend on Madrid on Monday for the United Nations climate summit to iron out rules to reach the agreed goal of limiting global warming under the 2015 Paris agreement.
The two-week Conference of the Parties (COP25) takes place against a backdrop of mounting scientific evidence of the urgency of climate action, a slew of extreme-weather events and youth-led climate activism around the world.
The event got off to a rough start after it was abruptly relocated to Spain last month as host Chile was rocked by violent protests.
COP25 was originally set to take place in Brazil, but the country revoked its offer as a climate-sceptic leader came to power.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was widely criticised for his response to devastating fires in the Amazon rainforest, one of many extreme-weather events in the past year that also included record floods in Venice, wildfires in Australia and California and a deadly hurricane in the Bahamas.
Brazil is not the only government hostile to the climate agenda. US President Donald Trump recently started the process of withdrawing from the Paris accord.
The move “hangs over” the upcoming COP25, Sherri Goodman, senior strategist at the nonprofit Center for Climate and Security, said.
In the face of the US decision and the relocation to Madrid, “the first and most important goal, regardless of the technical details, is to continue to show the integrity of the process and that most nations are in and want to be part of it,” Goodman said of the summit.
COP25 is also an opportunity for policymakers to show they are heeding global calls for climate action, spearheaded by Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg.
The 16-year-old has inspired millions of people around the world to join strikes staged by the youth-led movement Fridays for Future.
The move of COP25 to Madrid stranded Thunberg, but after hitching a ride back to Europe on a catamaran, she is set to play a starring role at the summit.
At September’s UN climate summit in New York, Thunberg berated world leaders for failing young people and told them to listen to the science.
The deluge of warnings by scientists began with a landmark 2018 report of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which called attention to the dire consequences for the planet if the atmosphere heats up more than 1.5 degrees.
Earlier this week, a UN report said countries must at least triple their current plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions or risk missing the Paris deal target of well below 2 degrees.
As the current pledges under the 2015 accord easily overshoot the 2 degree limit, countries have promised to submit more ambitious climate protection plans by the end of 2020, as well as strategies to curb carbon emissions by 2050.
“Next year really is a critical test for what countries are prepared to do to put the world on trajectory to reach goals of the Paris agreement,” said David Waskow, director of the International Climate Initiative for the nonprofit World Resources Institute (WRI).
“So this COP in many respects can be seen as a marker on that path, a stepping stone to what has to happen next year,” Waskow added. “Perhaps we can call it a ‘can-do COP’.”
He said that 68 countries, including small-island states that are already vulnerable to the effects of climate change, have indicated that they plan to enhance their commitments by next year. But they only make up 8 per cent of global emissions. — DPA