10 Keys to a better understanding of the Climate Summit, COP25 in Madrid

PeteLinforthPxabay - COP 25 Emergencia climática
Current events
18 November 2019

Madrid will host the next Climate Summit between 2 and 13 December but ...do you know what COP means?

Some say that "climate change is what happens to us while we are busy making other plans". And that "neither politicians have the far-reaching vision that the challenge requires, nor does society end up self-organizing to confront the climate crisis and to demand of politicians.

Others, like Trump or Bolsonaro, "deny everything.

However, there is no margin to deny anything. There is some time, not much time, to get down to work and organize responses, from the local to the global, that are tailored to the challenge. The #COP25Madrid is already here, let's stop entertaining ourselves with other plans while all this happens.

However, climate conferences move thousands of people, from technicians to politicians, through lawyers, businessmen or journalists who for about two weeks at the end of the year, for the last 25 years, meet to look for solutions to the climate crisis.

These are 10 keys to understand, a little better, this small climate universe:

  1. What is the COP?

The Conference of the Parties or COP is the supreme body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). In it, the heads of state and government, or on their behalf the ministers, take decisions to try to mitigate the effects of the climate crisis resulting from human action.

  1. What do the acronyms COP mean?

COP stands for Conference of the Parties. They refer to countries or parties that have signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The number that accompanies the acronym COP indicates the meeting number. Twenty-four have been held so far, so the next summit in Madrid will be COP25 or twenty-fifth. The first took place in Berlin in 1995.

  1. Who are the parties?

The parties are the member states of the convention, currently about 200. In addition to the parties, these annual conferences can participate as observers representatives of companies, international organizations, interest groups or associations. The COPs usually bring together thousands of activists who call for stronger measures to protect the climate in the streets and through numerous acts of protest.

  1. How does a COP develop?

For approximately two weeks, the convention brings together thousands of scientists, businessmen, institutional representatives, non-governmental organizations and governments from around the world.

The first week is of a technical nature, but during the final days of the summit, known as the "ministerial segment," numerous heads of state and ministers responsible for climate change from dozens of countries come together.

  1. How long has it been going on?

The climate emergency conference has been going on for 25 years. The first meeting took place in Berlin in 1995. Since then, it has been convened annually in different cities in Europe, America, Africa and Asia. Bonn has hosted several summits and multiple meetings on the climate crisis as the headquarters of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Differences between climate change, crisis or climate emergency
Climate change, climate crisis or climate emergency. The expression climate crisis is more appropriate than climate change to refer to the magnitude and consequences of global warming caused by human activity, says the Fundéu.

  1. Why is COP25 important?

This year's summit is especially important, as it constitutes the last meeting to activate the Paris Agreement, conceived as the first binding global pact in defence of the planet's climate, which must be fully in force by January 2020. The COP25 seeks to promote the guarantees to implement it with the entry into force of national measures.

  1. What is the Paris Agreement?

The Paris Agreement signed in 2015 at COP21 is the largest binding agreement in the face of the climate crisis. It establishes a global action plan to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees and to continue efforts so that it does not exceed 1.5 degrees.

At COP 21 in Paris, three clear, profound and necessary objectives were set:

  • to keep the average rise in atmospheric temperature below two degrees in relation to the pre-industrial era,
  • promote global resilience to climate change by maintaining key activities, such as food production, with low greenhouse gas emissions
  • and accommodate investment and financial flows to meet this immense challenge.
  1. Is the difference between 2 and 1.5 degrees important?

Experts consider it crucial to increase climate ambition. A scientific report from the intergovernmental panel of Experts on Climate Change (IPCC) has highlighted the need to be ambitious with a commitment not to exceed 1.5 degrees in the face of the threat of enormous damage if these levels are exceeded.

  1. Why has the COP25 been relocated to Spain?

Initially, the country designated to host this summit was Brazil, but withdrew its commitment after the electoral triumph of Jair Bolsonaro. Chile was chosen as an alternative, but the social explosion that the Andean country is experiencing has motivated President Sebastián Piñera to announce his resignation from the organization.

  1. Is this a common occurrence?

There has only been one occasion when the summit was not held in the assigned country, but it was only due to logistical problems. It happened in 2017, when Fiji, an island country of Polynesia, renounced to organize it in its territory to do it in Bonn, although under the presidency of the small state and with the denomination "Fiji-Bonn".

  1. Where and when will COP25 be held?

COP25 will finally take place from 2 to 13 December in Madrid. This is the first time that Spain has organised a climate summit, but it is not the first time that it has hosted UN summits; in particular it welcomed those of the Antarctic treaty from which the Madrid Protocol came out, which establishes a moratorium on mining activities in Antarctica.

  1. Who are the deniers or climate sceptics?

They are those who deny the reality of climate change or doubt its effects. Among them are notable political leaders such as Donald Trump or Jair Bolsonaro. There are several types on the international stage:

  • The most extreme, like Trump; they are scarce, although with a lot of influence.
  • The second group: those interested in maintaining their economic activities without moving away from the traditional emissions path. They fully understand climate change, its causes and consequences, but prefer to look at the short term and prioritise economic crisis management.
  • The third group is more diffuse and more. It is that of people who want to doubt, who seek "alternative" sources of information that tell them what they need to hear, that climate change is an exaggeration.
  1. Decarbonization of the economy

The use of fossil fuels (oil, coal, natural gas) represents the main cause of greenhouse gas emissions, mainly coal and oil, which emit CO2 in the combustion process.

The decarbonization of the economy is the process to reduce CO2 emissions goes through the progressive elimination of fossil fuels and their replacement by renewable energy (wind, photovoltaic, wave, geothermal ...).

Sources: 10mintos, publico.es, F.Valladares (sinc), Petelinforth (Pxabay)