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UN Climate Summit to Take Place in Madrid

UN climate talks to kick off in Madrid on Monday

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The UN climate talks will be taking place in Madrid. Pixabay

BY VISHAL GULATI

As greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow, diplomats and officials from nearly 200 countries, including India, will gather in the Spanish capital Madrid for two weeks from Monday for the UN climate summit to thrash out how best to tackle the climate crisis.

The 25th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) or COP25 is being held in the backdrop of climate impacts biting globally, believe climate experts.

Fires are consuming forests from the Amazon to Indonesia and from Congo to Australia. Floods have just hit Britain and Venice. Heatwaves, super-charged hurricanes and torrential downpours are now commonplace.

In the run-up to the annual summit, three stark reports on the rising carbon emissions and impacts on global temperatures have been released.

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The UN climate summit will discuss ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Lifetime Stock

The reports lay bare the horrific state of climate breakdown and its impacts across the globe whilst indicating the solutions are available to make possible meeting the goals set out under the Paris Agreement of 2015.

The COP25 will take place under the Presidency of the government of Chile and will be held with logistical support from the government of Spain.

“This year, we have seen accelerating climate change impacts, including increased droughts, storms and heat waves, with dire consequences for poverty eradication, human health, migration and inequality,” UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said.

“The world’s small window of opportunity to address climate change is closing rapidly. We must urgently deploy all the tools of multilateral cooperation to make COP25 the launchpad for more climate ambition to put the world on a transformational path towards low carbon and resilience,” she said.

According to the UN Climate Change, a key objective of COP25 is to raise overall ambition also by completing several key aspects with respect to the full operationalisation of the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

Last year at COP24 in Poland, the bulk of the implementation guidelines of the Paris Agreement were agreed on, with the exception of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement.

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The UN climate talk will discuss ways to tackle climate crisis. Wikimedia Commons

Article 6 is to provide guidelines for how international climate markets will work, as a key component of the world’s economic toolbox for addressing climate change.

The other focus areas at COP25 will include adaptation, loss and damage, transparency, finance, capacity-building, indigenous issues, oceans, forestry, gender and more.

The provision of finance and technology is crucial for developing countries to green their economies and build resilience.

“While we have seen some progress with respect to climate-related financing for developing countries, we will continue to urge developed nations to fulfil their pledge of mobilizing $100 billion annually by 2020,” Espinosa said in a statement.

What’s at stake at COP25?

At a time when the discrepancies between what governments need to do according to science, and what they are actually doing, are getting unprecedented global attention,

“Madrid is the moment when the race for governments to submit new climate plans starts,” a climate negotiator told IANS.

The Madrid talks are due in 2020, and under the Paris deal, they need to be better than previous ones.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the vulnerable states are expected to make this clear at COP25.

The heat of mobilisations on the streets is expected to be felt inside the venue and the host of the 2020 COP, Britain, is expected to outline its plan to raise global ambition.

India will look to engage in negotiations with a constructive and positive outlook and work towards protecting its long-term development interests.

India has been ambitious in its actions and has emphasised that developed countries should take lead in undertaking ambitious actions and fulfil their climate finance commitments of mobilising $100 billion per annum by 2020 and progressively and substantially scale up their financial support to inform parties for future action through Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

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This UN climate summit must generate momentum and pressure on big polluters. Wikimedia Commons

India will further stress upon the need for fulfilling the pre-2020 commitments by developed countries, and that pre-2020 implementation gaps should not present an additional burden to developing countries in the post-2020 period.

The Indian delegation will be led by Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar.

The COP25 is an important as countries prepare to move from pre-2020 period under Kyoto Protocol to post-2020 period under the Paris Agreement.

In 2020, nations are to submit new or updated national climate action plans, referred to as NDCs.

According to the UN Environment Programme’s 2019 Emission Gap Report published last week, unless global greenhouse gas emissions fall by 7.6 per cent each year between 2020 and 2030, the world will miss the opportunity to get on track towards the 1.5 degrees Celsius temperature goal of the Paris Agreement.

This means collective ambition would need to increase more than fivefold over current levels to deliver the cuts needed over the next decade to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal.

This climate summit must generate momentum and pressure on big polluters.

Climate experts told IANS that major emitters need to heed the call for action at Madrid’s closing, and leave Spain feeling on notice to deliver leading commitments in 2020.

If the EU, China and India feel the heat, that will inject some pace into global climate efforts.

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Antonio Guterres is expected to be in Madrid to reinforce his call for countries to stop feeding their coal addiction, demand plans for carbon neutrality by 2050 and call for an end to the trillions spent supporting the fossil fuel sector.

The EU may announce its 2050 net zero plan, while 100 or more countries could commit to carbon neutrality by midcentury. (IANS)

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Sea Levels Rising Faster & Higher Than Expected: UN Varsity

"When migration is the only way out, it turns into forced relocation, an option that is not attractive to many Marshallese families."

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In addition, with 12 inches of sea level rise, visits would be reduced by about 24 per cent, a figure that could mean hundreds of thousands in lost revenue, as per the researchers.  Pixabay

Sea levels are rising faster and higher than previously expected. Long-term sea level rise will vary greatly depending on emissions, but could reach nearly four meters by 2300 if emissions are not reduced, experts with the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) said on Friday.

Extreme events at the coast, such as hurricanes, tsunamis and floods, that used to occur once a century, will hit many coasts every year by 2050, even under low emission scenarios.

This is especially problematic for low-lying islands, such as the Pacific Islands, which will suffer from disasters and see a loss of livelihood as sea water salinizes the soil and freshwater resources, hampering farming activities.

Some islands could become entirely uninhabitable because there is no more access to fresh water.

“Sea level rise is here to stay. Even in a wonderful, but completely unrealistic zero emission scenario, we will see the consequences of sea level rise,” said Zita Sebesvari, a senior scientist at the UNU-EHS.

“This is because the sea level rise we are experiencing at the moment is the consequence of global warming that started from emissions released decades ago. Because large bodies of water like oceans warm up slowly, changes in sea level lag behind warming of the atmosphere.”

According to the recently released IPCC special report on the oceans and cryosphere in a changing climate, for which Sebesvari was a lead author, by 2050 sea levels will rise by 20 to 40 cm globally.

There will be regional differences, but all parts of the world will be affected.

“After 2050, however, we could see anything from stabilization, if we stick to the emissions goals of the Paris Agreement, to the aforementioned four metres by 2300, if we continue with the current emissions.”

“What the report shows is that both mitigation and adaptation will be necessary. We have to reduce emissions to avoid the more extreme scenarios, but we also have to prepare for the extent of sea level rise that we cannot avoid,” said Sebesvari in a statement.

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People living in coastal areas are highly affected by economic losses caused by frequent flooding and the impact worsens when the sea level rises, making them more frequent, says a new study. Pixabay

As one of the lowest-lying island nation states in the world, the Republic of the Marshall Islands is particularly vulnerable to the rising sea level and other climate hazards, and it is already experiencing the impacts of climate change, such as salinity intrusion and an increase of extreme weather events.

In the last 10-20 years, more than a third of the Marshallese have moved abroad, mostly to the US.

“Marshallese cite many reasons for moving abroad, predominantly work, healthcare, and education,” said Kees van der Geest, a senior migration expert at UNU-EHS.

“Climate change is a big concern to them, but is not yet seen as a reason to move.”

However, a new study by van der Geest, together with colleagues from the University of Hawaii, does show a correlation between climate impacts and migration rates at the household level: Those who experience more severe climate stress, especially drought and heat, also have higher migration rates.

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Despite this finding, the study also shows that most Marshallese fiercely resist the idea that climate change could make their home uninhabitable and they would need to leave their islands someday.

They think that adaptation is possible, and with support of their government and international donors, they are finding ways to adapt. Recently installed fresh water tanks on the islands will ensure the availability of drinking water even with increasing salinity intrusion.

As the world leaders gather for two-week UN climate change conference or COP25, it is countries like the Marshall Islands that urgently depend on solutions and ambitious climate action.

“Adaptation must be considered as the first and preferred option,” concludes van der Geest.

“When migration is the only way out, it turns into forced relocation, an option that is not attractive to many Marshallese families.” (IANS)