From 2 to 13 December, governments from all over the globe are meeting in Madrid for the 25th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP25). “Climate change” is indeed a concept which often hear in conversations and on the media. However, do we know what our leaders will be talking about during this conference? In the following article, the team of IUCN Med and the LIFE Adaptamed Project in Spain offer a brief summary of the main goals and topics for which agreements will be sought:
Increasing the ambition of governments to prevent global temperature rise above 1.5°C degrees, so as to avoid irreversible damage.
According to the latest reports of the IPCC (UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), human actions are already responsible for approximately one degree Celsius (1.0° C) of global warming since the beginning of the pre-industrial era. According to the IPCC panel, a global temperature increase of more than 1.5 degrees would mean a breaking point bringing drastic consequences, including:
- An increase in extreme climate conditions (extreme heat and rainfall, but also more frequent droughts among others).
- An increase in the mean sea level (with significant consequences for cities)
- A strong loss and extinction of species and ecosystems.
- An increase in ocean temperature and acidity, alongside with a decrease in the level of oxygen (with strong consequences for fishing and marine ecosystems)
- More poverty due to restrictions on basic needs, such as access to water and food, also having an impact on health and human security
The goal of keeping temperature rise below 1.5 degrees is a part of the 2015 Paris Agreement, which established measures to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2020:
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45% in the next 10 years
To stay below the 1.5°C threshold, human societies must produce 5 times less emissions over the next decade. However, the Emissions Gap Report 2019 from the UN Environment Programme reveals large differences between the commitments of different countries, also known as “intended nationally determined contributions” (INDC).
Indeed, reaching “cabon neutrality” will be frequently mentioned goal during the Climate Summit in Madrid. To support this objective, some of the recommended measures include afforestation, reforestation or adaptation of ecosystems with the capacity to assimilate and neutralize carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
For this reason, the LIFE Adaptamed Project is currently implementing adaptation measures in 3 iconic and representative protected areas of Mediterranean habitats in Spain, i.e. Cabo de Gata in Almería, Sierra Nevada in Granada and Doñana in Huelva. The aim is to make these ecosystems more resilient to the impacts of climate change and mitigate the negative impacts on the fundamental benefits that these areas provide to local populations (for example soil retention, pollination, temperature regulation, prevention of forest fires and combating desertification).
How to adapt, reduce and mitigate the effects of climate change
The following action lines will be at the core of the discussions at COP25 in Madrid:
1) Increasing public and private financing for reducing emissions up to 100 billion dollars annually (more than 90 billion euros) by 2020.
2) Promoting an energy and industrial transition in favour of renewable energy. Reducing emissions will only be possible with stronger support from the economic and industrial sectors.
3) Promotion of Nature-based Solutions, that is, the use and adaptation of ecosystems to meet the challenges of climate change, guarantee access to basic resources and reduce disasters.
4) Promote commitments at a local level while supporting more sustainable urban development
5) Mobilizing society, youth and political sectors to accomplish these objectives.
For all these reasons, this conference has been called the summit of “climate ambition”. As summarized by António Guterres, UN Secretary General:
“I expect a clear demonstration of increased climate action ambition & commitment out of COP25. Leaders of all countries need to show accountability & responsibility. Anything less would be a betrayal of our entire human family and all generations to come.”