COP25 (United Nations Climate Change Conference) was held in Madrid last year from the 2nd to the 13th of December. This was the eagerly awaited follow up to the Paris meeting in 2015. At the Paris meeting there had been widespread agreement that the effects of climate change were linked to the way we have abused our planet. Targets to be reached in terms of reducing the emission of greenhouse gases were discussed and many were hopeful that governments would take significant action to curb emissions and plan for a more sustainable future by the 2019 Madrid meeting (with Chile presiding).
These hopes were dashed as some of the larger – and richer – countries declined to agree a plan that would begin to respond to the growing crisis. This happened even as the bush fires in Australia, which started in September, continued to burn. We cannot watch the news now, January 2020, without witnessing the harrowing sights of vast tracts of land ablaze, homes destroyed, wildlife killed and sadly at the time of writing 23 people losing their lives. Those from countries already seriously impacted by the climate change gave clear examples of the continuing and worsening crisis they are experiencing. The hoped-for support did not come during the meeting.
How could those at the meeting with the power and authority fail to agree some strategies to respond to the urgent need to reduce emissions and prevent the average temperature rising? We are in danger, as a planet, of systems being caught in an unbreakable feed-back loop.
The follow-up meeting will be presided over by the British government next year. It is to be hoped that the preparation will be such that draft agreements are in place before the delegates meet. Agreements should take into account the evidence that some countries are in danger of being completely submerged. One challenge for governments is their desire to be re-elected and the changes we need to make as a planet will not be popular with many people. We need to think long term and most governments are on a four or five-year cycle.
Christian Aid have produced a report in 2019 of the effects of “extreme weather events” long predicted by scientists of many disciplines. The report highlights that “Extreme weather, driven by climate change, hit every populated continent in 2019, killing, injuring and displacing millions and causing billions of dollars of economic damage”.
Dr Adelle Thomas, Director of the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of the Bahamas, Senior Research Associate at Climate Analytics and one of the lead authors of the IPCC’s 6th Assessment Report, said: “In small island developing states, such as The Bahamas where I’m from, we’ve experienced first-hand the repeated devastation caused by the climate crisis. Most recently, the record-breaking Hurricane Dorian destroyed lives, livelihoods and our sense of security.
“This was unfortunately not an isolated event, as multiple hurricanes in recent years have resulted in unprecedented devastation throughout the Caribbean region. The great tragedy of climate change is that it is the poorest and most vulnerable who suffer the most, despite us doing the least to cause it.”
The report makes sobering reading and can be accessed by the link below.
Perhaps the question we need to ask of ourselves and our government in the UK is “What am I prepared to do, how will I change my comfortable lifestyle so as to leave a sustainable planet to future generations?”
Read the full report here: