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COP25 and climate urgency


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Diario de Navarra, Las Provincias

David Elustondo Valencia

Professor of the Degree of Environmental Sciences of the University of Navarra.

Madrid will host, between December 2 and 13, the twenty-fifth lecture of the Parties to the UN Climate Change Convention framework , also known as the annual UN Climate Summit or COP25. The main goal of the summit is to achieve a political agreement to set more ambitious national plans for emissions cuts, as established in the Paris agreement .

The Paris agreement , ratified by 187 countries, including the world's four major CO2 emitters (China, the United States, the European Union and India), set the ambitious goal goal of keeping the global temperature increase below 2 Degrees, aiming not to exceed an increase of 1.5 Degrees compared to pre-industrial levels. To achieve this, all signatory countries undertook to prepare national emission reduction plans and to communicate their inventories and planned climate actions from 2020 onwards. Every 5 years, a assessment of the results of these plans is carried out and progressively more ambitious ones are prepared. If all goes according to plan, the final result will be to reach the targets set (that threshold of 1.5 Degrees) at the global level.

However, early assessments show that many countries are not meeting their emission reduction commitments. Therefore, one of the keys of meeting in Madrid will be to stress the importance of doing so in order to curb global climate change.

Because we cannot wait any longer. This year, as in previous years, the concentration of atmospheric CO2 has increased again, reaching the highest level in the last 5 million years. Climate change is undoubtedly the great challenge of our time and must be addressed urgently from all areas. Today there is practically unanimous consensus at academic community (it has just reached 99%) on the existence of accelerated climate change caused by human activity. We are all witnesses to the profound changes that are taking place worldwide: increase in extreme weather events, effects on human health, loss of biodiversity, rising sea levels, desertification, etc. In fact, 70% of the world's population considers climate change to be the main problem today.

However, the absolute conviction of the academic community and the population does not seem to be transferring in a clear way to the political class which, despite the huge battery of measures and investments planned for the coming years, is not yet able to convey a clear and unified message to the population.

But this is a problem that should be a priority in the political diary . The roadmaps of the Paris agreement and the European Union speak of a decarbonization of the planet by 2050. This will require an unprecedented effort from all sectors of society. It will require changes in energy supply sources, new systems of mobility, smart cities, an even more technified agriculture and a transition from the current linear Economics to the circular Economics . It will be, at final, a paradigm shift in our current way of life. And the population must know the cost, because it is a problem that is already here. This does not mean to trigger excessive alarmism, but to be aware of the threat. Because 70% of the Spanish population is already suffering from climate change. And the projections for southern Europe are quite pessimistic, since a significant increase in temperatures and a decrease in rainfall are expected, which will cause significant effects on agriculture, infrastructure and human health.

We must understand that, unlike other environmental problems of regional or hemispheric distribution such as atmospheric pollution or acid rain, climate change is a global problem. This means that it does not matter whether CO2 is being emitted by a power plant in Bombay or a motorcycle in Pamplona, as it will be distributed throughout the planet. That is why it is very important that we are all aware of the problem and understand that any action, no matter how small, counts. Let's do our bit and act accordingly. Think global, act local.