UN climate change conference opens in Madrid

emissions

The 2019 UN Climate Change Conference began Dec. 2 in Madrid, with leaders looking for solutions to reduce global carbon levels. Leaders originally planned for the conference to be held in Chile, but due to political instability, the conference was moved to Madrid, where it will take place over the next two weeks. The conference started with statements from prominent leaders, notably António Guterres, the UN Secretary-General. Guterres urgedleaders to select the “path of hope.” He characterized this choice as:

A path of resolve, of sustainable solutions. A path where more fossil fuels remain where they should be–in the ground–and where we are on the way to carbon neutrality by 2050. That is the only way to limit global temperature rise to the necessary 1.5 degrees by the end of the century.

The conference begins as new evidence shows record levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The World Meteorological Organization released a bulletin concluding that carbon levels were at 407.8 parts per million in 2018. Guterres mentioned the report in his remarks, noting that 400 parts per million were once considered “unthinkable.”

Global cooperation on reduced carbon emissions remains an uncertainty. US President Donald Trump ordered the US to withdraw from the Paris climate deal. There is some speculationthat the EU and China will be making a climate deal next September.

From Jurist, Dec. 2. Used with permission.

Note: The Paris Agreement, adopted at a December 2015 UN summit, permits a 2°C increase by 2030, but calls upon signatories to work towards a 1.°C increase. The safe concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is estimated at 350 parts per million; the planet last year surpassed 410 ppm, according to the Scripps Institute of Oceanography. The new findings of the World Meteorological Organization, placing CO2 levels at a still record-breaking 407.8 last year, are actually more cautious.

Photo: cwizner/Pixabay

  1. China’s appetite for coal power returns

    From The Guardian:

    China’s growing appetite for new coal-fired power stations has outstripped plant closures in the rest of the world since the start of last year, data shows.

    Elsewhere countries reduced their capacity by 8GW in the 18 months to June because old plants were retired faster than new ones were built. But over the same period China increased its capacity by 42.9GW despite a global move towards cleaner energy sources and a pledge to limit the use of coal.

    Christine Shearer, an analyst at the NGO Global Energy Monitor, said: “China’s proposed coal expansion is so far out of alignment with the Paris agreement that it would put the necessary reductions in coal power out of reach, even if every other country were to completely eliminate its coal fleet.”