14 Nov 2019, 13:26
Benjamin Wehrmann

COP25 in Madrid must lead to higher ambitions at crucial time for international climate action – German govt

Clean Energy Wire

The COP25 UN climate conference in Madrid must lead to greater commitments from the world's industrialised nations to curb their greenhouse gas emissions and the international community must get on track to achieve the Paris Climate Agreement's goal of limiting global warming to well below two degrees Celsius, German ministers said at a preparatory meeting in Berlin. "Madrid will be about calling on all major emitters to increase their ambitions," said environment minister Svenja Schulze. She said the German government will focus on two things at the conference: promoting global CO2 emissions trading mechanisms and establishing a reliable accounting mechanism that reflects actual emissions reductions. Schulze said the climate negotiations are a test of whether the international community can solve global problems — and that Europe will play a key role in this regard. "Climate policy is a connecting project for Europe," she said, adding that Germany's recently announced climate package marks a "restart" in the country's climate policy.
Foreign minister Heiko Maas pointed out that the conference in Madrid will set the stage for 2020, when nations are expected to increase their commitments under the Paris Agreement. "Also the EU will have to ramp up its ambitions next year," he said, adding that the incoming head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, is committed to that goal.
Climate scientist Johan Rockström, head of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), told reporters at the briefing that all scientific data now justifies speaking of a "planetary emergency" due to atmospheric heating. Rockström said immediate action is necessary if the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is to be achieved. "There is not one scenario for this goal in which 2020 is not a turning point" in terms of global emissions levels, he said. Rockström added that the greatest challenge today is arguably no longer how to achieve the transformation to a carbon-neutral economy but rather how to keep natural carbon sinks such as rainforests and wetlands intact.

COP25 was initially supposed to take place in Santiago, Chile, but the South American country's government announced in early November that it would not be able to host the conference due to ongoing social unrest and protests. Spain stepped in for Chile, offering to hold the COP in Madrid during the same dates in December, and is now facing the difficult task of organising a conference with more than 20,000 participants in only a few weeks' time.

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