‘Point of No Return’: COP25 Summit Launched in Madrid as UN Chief Issues Stark Warning

Written by | Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019

Dozens of world leaders, along with some 25,000 delegates, will meet for the next two weeks in Madrid, the Spanish capital city, for COP25, the annual United Nations international conference on a global challenge as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warns “point of no return [is] no longer over horizon” on climate change. COP25 began yesterday (3 December), only days after the European Union collectively declared a “climate emergency” in the wake of a dire crisis warning issued in early November by more than 11,000 scientists from 150 countries. A World Meteorological Organization report also rang alarm bells recently by indicating that greenhouse gas concentrations rose again last year, with carbon dioxide levels hitting 407.8 parts per million, a new record in human history.
The conference was originally planned to take place in Chile, but continued unrest there prompted the authorities to change the location to Spain, though the South American nation still continues to preside over the conference. The COP25 begins a day after Guterres warned that climate change can only be kept under control if carbon neutrality was reached by 2050, greenhouse gas emissions were cut by 45 percent of 2010 levels by 2030 and global temperatures increases were limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Describing the global community’s efforts as “utterly inadequate”, the UN chief argued that the “point of no return … is in sight and hurtling toward us.”
Overall some 50 world leaders are due to take part, with United States President Donald Trump being one notable absentee, though US congressional delegation will be present, led by Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi. Key meetings, including those among EU leaders hosted by the Spanish prime minister, will focus on ensuring that the landmark 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement becomes fully operational, in particular mechanisms for trading carbon, while also laying groundwork needed for fresh climate pledges due to be made by all Paris signees before the end of 2020. Meanwhile, teenage Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg, travelling to the conference across the Atlantic Ocean by catamaran, is expected to take part in a large climate change rally in the Spanish capital on 6 December.

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