Climate meet For the next two weeks in Madrid, COP25 will be held in the shadow of a series of alarming climate reports. Will countries yield to pressure? What shape will rulebook for implementing 2015 Paris Agreement take?
The annual two-week climate change conference, known by the abbreviation COP25, begins in Madrid on Monday amid fresh warnings that the world has not been doing enough to save itself from catastrophic impacts of climate change. A series of reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other agencies have been reiterating through the year that unless countries scale up their actions significantly, there is little hope of keeping average global temperatures within 2ºC higher than pre-industrial trends.
That, however, will not be directly on the agenda of the climate change negotiators, who will be meeting in Madrid with the prime objective of completing the rule-book to the 2015 Paris Agreement so that it starts getting implemented from next year.
The most dire and recent warning has come from the annual Emissions Gap Report, produced by the UN Environment Programme, that says that the goal of keeping average temperatures within 1.5°C from pre-industrial times, an aspirational target enshrined in the Paris Agreement, was “on the brink of becoming impossible”. To achieve that target, global greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 should not be more than 25 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. But from the current rate of growth of emissions, the total is projected to touch 56 billion tonnes by that time, more than twice what it should be.
Accordingly, the world needs to reduce its emissions by at least 7.6% every year between now and 2030 to reach the 25-billion-tonnes level. Considering that overall emissions are still increasing, such major reductions are extremely unlikely unless the countries do something completely drastic.
The World Meteorological Organization, meanwhile, has pointed out that atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases reached new records in 2018. The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached 407.8 parts per million in 2018, compared to 405.5 ppm the previous year. This was 147% of the pre-industrial level of 1750. The concentration of methane was 259% of the 1750 level while nitrous oxide was at 123% above.
On May 18 this year, the daily average carbon dioxide concentration touched 415 ppm for the first time ever. It has come down from that level since then.
Several other reports in the last few months, including three special reports by IPCC, and another major one on state of nature by Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, have all pointed to the deteriorating scenario.