The Climate Summit seeks more drastic cuts in country emissions | Society

When a month ago the streets of Santiago de Chile burned by the protests and the government of the conservative Sebastián Piñera had to give up hosting the annual Climate Summit, he thought of dropping it. Simply, not to be celebrated this year. Because this summit was not called to go down in history. It is a transitional appointment between the adoption and the development of the Paris Agreement -which closed after years of negotiations and failures in the French capital in 2015- and the start-up from the next decade of that pact, which seeks to keep the warming within manageable limits.

But Spain He offered to be held in Madrid on schedule: between December 2 and December 13. And those involved in these international negotiations say that one of the fundamental reasons for not dropping it was the context. The summit will take place in the middle of a tremendous lack of international leadership in climate struggle and at a bad time for multilateralism. Donald Trump has already started the process to get the US out of the Paris Agreement, China shows no signs that it will increase its plans to cut greenhouse gases, Russia has not submitted to the UN its program to reduce them, the Twenty-eight have not yet reached a consensus on the goal of zero emissions by 2050 ... That is why the so-called COP25 should be held, to escape the feeling that the international climate struggle is a "process that implodes," as I said last week Acting Minister for the Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera.

But this summit also has two concrete challenges ahead: one political and the other technical. On the one hand, it should serve to give a "clear demonstration" by countries to "expand the ambition" against warming, said Sunday Antònio Guterres, UN Secretary General. On the other hand, he recalled, the Paris Agreement must be completed and the criteria established to launch emission markets, something that until now has not been possible due to disagreement between countries.

These are the keys of the COP25 that will put Madrid at the center of the action against the climatic emergency.

What is a COP? The acronym COP in English refers to the Conference of the Parties. That is, at the meeting - normally annual - of the almost 200 countries that are part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The convention was adopted in 1992 and established that the greenhouse gases emitted by humans in their daily activities are contributing to climate change. The convention also stated that the signatories must reduce these gases. To develop this treaty, COPs are held, in which delegates and ministers from almost 200 countries of the world participate. The summits are held every year in an area of ​​the planet and this edition corresponded to Latin America. Brazil was first offered, but the arrival of Jair Bolsonaro caused that country to resign. Chile was the alternative, although a month ago it also gave up and the COP will be held in Madrid. Although Chile will continue to retain the presidency of the summit, which implies leading the negotiations.

What is the Paris Agreement? The framework convention served first for the approval of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. Then, in 2015, the Paris Agreement was adopted, which will replace Kyoto from the next decade and forces all countries that join to undertake cuts in their gases. The sum of all these reductions must be sufficient for the main objective of the Paris Agreement to be fulfilled: that the increase in the average temperature of the planet does not exceed two degrees Celsius with respect to pre-industrial levels, and to the extent possible Do not exceed 1.5. That is the limit that science sets to avoid the most catastrophic effects of a warming that can no longer be reversed.

What does science say? Scientific studies -led by the IPCC, the group of experts advising the United Nations - and the different international organizations linked to the UN warn that countries are not even less well on their way to meeting those Paris goals: they must multiply their cut plans by five to achieve goal of 1.5 and by three for the 2 grades. The concentration in the atmosphere of the main greenhouse gases has continued to increase since the framework convention was signed in 1992. Emissions have only fallen clearly in periods of crisis. "We are in a deep hole and we continue digging," summarized Guterres, who insists that humanity is running out of time and "will soon be too late" for the warming to remain within those safe margins.

What is ambition? After that expression - already included in the jargon of climate negotiations - there is an assumption that the plans to cut emissions from countries are not enough. "The gap is huge," Chilean Minister of Environment Carolina Schmidt, who holds the presidency of COP25, summed up this weekend. Therefore, the Paris Agreement established periodic upward revisions of the cut plans. The first is in 2020 and the political objective is for governments to commit to doing so during this summit. These plans are immediately applicable and set goals by 2030. Guterres said he hopes more countries will also commit during the COP25 to reach the great long-term goal: emissions neutrality by 2050.

What is article 6? The Paris Agreement needed a development regulation and, since 2015, negotiators in the 200 countries have been closing it. But in Article 6 the negotiation has run aground since 2015. "I don't want to conceive of the possibility that there is no agreement in Article 6," Guterres said. But, the truth is that its development is getting complicated. This article refers to the exchange of rights or units of greenhouse gas emissions between countries and is also the only one of the entire agreement that refers to the private sector, since it opens the door for companies to acquire them.

In the Kyoto Protocol there was already a system whereby a country that could not cut what it owed its gases could buy another emission rights. This system is supposed to continue with Paris and one of the main debates is how to avoid double counting, that is, that the same right cannot be taken to the balance sheets of two countries at the same time.

The other leg that must be developed within that article affects the emission markets to which companies in the sectors required to make cuts have to go. For example, aviation: companies will have to go to buy those rights to offset their emissions. Europe already has a market of this type and the underlying philosophy is that when it is forced to pay for the emitted gases, the private sector moves towards decarbonization. But it has taken the European Union 15 years to make its market effective and it has not been until now when it has managed to displace the dirtiest coal plants.

Youth, scientists and negotiating delegates

At the summits of the climate not only delegates come to negotiate, as well as presidents - in Madrid about 50 are expected for the inauguration of this Monday. Among the 25,000 people who will participate during COP25 there are also other actors such as representatives of several scientific organizations. The summits serve to show the evolution of the fight against warming and its effects through the presentation of different reports. In addition, another actor has strongly joined the last COP: the young activists who are leading the protests in the streets. On December 6 a great demonstration is expected in Madrid led by activist Greta Thunberg. Scientists and young people are joined by another actor: companies. It is expected that during the Madrid summit a significant number of large companies will commit to reducing their emissions and fighting warming.


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