COP25: 2019 UN climate talks begin in Madrid
2 December 2019
UN Secretary General António Guterres has said that calls from people worldwide for action to halt the climate crisis are a ‘signal of hope’ at the start of the COP25 climate conference in Madrid.
The Secretary General made the remarks at the beginning of the annual UN climate change meeting.
The talks, known as ‘COP25’, are taking place in Spain between 2-13 December 2019 after Chile cancelled plans to host the conference due to unrest in the country.
Chile is still leading the meeting and will retain the presidency of the COP until it passes to the UK in 2020.
António Guterres went on to warn negotiators at the beginning of the Madrid talks: “We are in a deep hole, and we are still digging. Soon it will be too deep to escape.”
But the UN Secretary General said that calls for action from people worldwide and the technology already available to cut greenhouse gas emissions meant that his message was “one of hope not of despair”.
Guterres argued that a lack of political will to stop fossil fuel subsidies and to make polluting companies pay for the damage they cause are the challenges which must be overcome if the world is to halt climate change.
What is COP25?
‘COP’ stands for ‘Conference of Parties’ and is an annual meeting of more than 190 countries aimed at ensuring the world works together to keep global temperature rises below 1.5 degrees. This is the 25th meeting of conference.
The summit in 2020, COP26, will be hosted by the UK in Glasgow.
What is happening at COP25?
Heads of government and diplomats from more than 190 countries are involved in the COP talks.
COP25 is being viewed as an important step in resolving the issues necessary for the Paris Agreement to enter into force in Glasgow next year.
One of the focus areas of this year’s conference is the need for countries to raise the ambition on national plans for reducing their greenhouse gas emissions to meet the 1.5 degree target in the Paris Agreement.
Negotiators at the Madrid COP are also looking to make final decisions on the rules in the Paris Agreement, which aims to avoid temperatures rising more than 1.5 degrees above levels seen before the Industrial Revolution.
"COP25 isn’t going to be the magic bullet that solves everything, but it must set us on the right path for the important discussions to come in 2020."
Neil Thorns, Director of Advocacy at CAFOD
Scientists have shown how global heating above this dangerous threshold will be catastrophic and push hundreds of millions more people into poverty.
There will also be moves to provide more money to countries already hit by more extreme weather in order to help them cope with the impacts of the climate emergency.
Why is COP25 important?
Neil Thorns, Director of Advocacy at CAFOD, said:
“It’s important that countries come to this meeting, but they must come in the interests of the common good and with urgency.
“Time is rapidly running out. The world’s poorest people are already paying the price for a problem they didn’t create and until countries match their words with actions, this will only get worse.
“We hope that these two weeks move us along positively. COP25 isn’t going to be the magic bullet that solves everything, but it must set us on the right path for the important discussions to come in 2020, which means critical technical issues that could hinder the Paris Agreement – such as how to avoid counting emissions reductions twice when countries buy and sell permits and credits to each other to emit carbon dioxide – must be resolved.”