Is COP25 the “point of no return”?

Following the largest global calls to action in history, COP25 could make or break the future of global climate action 

2019 was a year of unprecedented climate activism, and how global leaders and activists move forward in 2020 could raise that bar. This month, Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Convention on Climate Change will hold their annual meeting in Madrid to reevaluate and assess the implementation of the 2015 Paris Accords. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres recently referred to the summit as “the point of no return” in acting on climate change, and CNN contributor Ivana Kottasová agreed in her gripping summary of the meeting’s dire sentiment; this same sentiment is present in global climate strikes and leading scientific findings. 

Climate action has been in news headlines all year, and while report after report urging global political action are more than enough to make activists like myself deeply concerned, I am more optimistic than ever as we head into the 2020’s.

On the table at this climate meeting are the practical means by which we can meet the goals of Paris’ agreement, specifically keeping global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius, 1.5 if possible. A global emissions trading system is in the talks as a primary method of reaching such goals, especially following a failure to establish this at COP24 in Katowice, Poland, last year.

Not at this discussion are global leaders US and Brazil under anti-climate presidents Trump and Bolsonaro respectively. While a lack of support from what are arguably two of the most important nations on climate action is discouraging (the US is the third most populous country in the world, Brazil is the sixth), all hope is not lost. 

Just this week, US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi rallied firmly behind the mission of COP25, stating “Congress’s commitment to action on the climate crisis is iron-clad,” seemingly uniting behind both moderate and progressive legislative plans to reduce emissions (specifically, the Green New Deal and the 100 Percent Clean Economy Act). 

What COP25 will specifically result in is yet to be revealed, but I am deeply optimistic. There is no denying that there is more at risk now than ever, and while it seems like every year we get our hopes up to hear nothing but the same old story at these meetings (international agreements are not easy to actually agree on, after all), I believe that 2019 is a turning point. Over 800 strikes, featuring millions of activists young and old, took place on Sept. 20 of this year. Hundreds of thousands took to the streets again this past Black Friday across the globe, and even more are planning to return this Friday, Dec. 6. The global movement for climate change is crying out clearer than ever, and all there is to do is get louder and louder until global leaders are ready to truly listen. COP25 could be that moment. 2019 was the turning point for climate action, and COP25 can be the moment global leaders recognize this and commit to act.

~James Duffy, Staff Writer~

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