What happens at Global Climate Summits?

In 2015, the world’s governments agreed to avoid catastrophic climate change. The result was the famous “Paris Agreement”. It describes actions that, if taken, would have a good chance of limiting warming to 1.5°C or 2°C above pre-industrial levels [1]. However, since then, few countries have made sufficient changes to meet the Agreement [4], and we are on track for 3.1-3.5°C of warming by 2100 [5]. On 23rd September this year, the world’s leaders will meet in New York [2], to discuss how to get us in line with the commitments of the Paris Agreement [3]. The aim is to make ‘concrete, realistic plans’ to reduce global emissions by 45% by 2030, and to ‘net zero’ emissions by 2050 [2]. Key topics to be discussed are [2]:

1) Finding FUNDING to make our world more sustainable, such as through carbon taxes [3,7]

2) Replacing fossil fuels with CLEAN ENERGY

3) Making INDUSTRIES more sustainable

4) Using NATURE to reduce emissions and increase resilience to climate change

5) Improving CITIES, such as through better public transport and building design

6) Improving methods to ADAPT to the effects of climate change, like floods and drought

It’s not just governments attending, there will also be representatives from civil society, young people, companies, local authorities, and international organisation such as the World Economic Forum [2,3]. Each topic will be led by a different pair of countries [3]. For example, Denmark and Ethiopia will lead the Energy section [3]. Over the weekend (21-22nd Sept) many ideas will be discussed, and on Monday 23rd the most ambitious plans will be presented, and countries will make plans for 2020-2050 [3].

There will be another, longer meeting from 2-13th December in Chile: COP25 (Conference of the Parties 25) [3,6]. Here, progress towards the commitments will be discussed and new plans made [3].

The slogan of the Climate Summit in September is ‘a race we can win’ [3]. Each of us can increase the chance of ‘winning’ by showing that we want leaders to make ambitious commitments – do this by living a planet-friendly lifestyle yourself, and supporting your local climate action groups!


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