What’s happening at COP25?

Article by Isabel Key and Mina Frost.

Back in 1992, an international treaty was signed agreeing to stabilise the amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere and prevent humans from interfering dangerously with the climate system [1]. 197 countries are now part of this agreement [1]. Since then, these countries have met 24 times to discuss how to make this treaty reality [1].

Back in 2015, it was agreed that they would aim to keep warming of the atmosphere below or at 1.5°C above the 1850-1900 average (sometimes referred to as “pre-industrial” temperatures) [2]. This was sealed by the “Paris Agreement” in December 2015 [2,10].

A report from the United Nations that came out just a few days ago says that we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 7.6% per year from 2020 to 2030 in order to achieve the 1.5°C goal [1,5]. Given that emissions rose by 2% in 2018, our current actions to slow climate change are clearly not enough [6]! Almost three decades since the original treaty was signed, progress towards stabilising climate change is limited: with the continuation of current policies we will likely reach 3.4 to 3.9°C of warming above the 1850-1900 average by 2100 [3,4].

Today is the first day of the 25th Conference of the Parties, known as COP25 [1]. This is great chance for countries to get on track with meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement [8 ]. By the end of 2020 countries have the chance to submit new action plans to tackle the climate crisis [1,7]. Therefore, the meeting in Madrid over the next couple of weeks is crucial for encouraging countries to strengthen their policies for tackling climate change [7].

To learn more about the events at COP2 5, take a look at their website [9]. Show your support by attending climate strikes, posting on social media, sharing your knowledge of climate change with everyone and anyone!

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