COP25 almost didn’t take place. But as the climate conference ended yesterday, critics blast a missed opportunity.
COP25 is the climate conference that almost wasn’t — and which could’ve delivered, but didn’t.
The UN’s annual climate change conference — officially known as the Conference of the Parties, or “COP” — was originally supposed to be held in Chile, but extreme unrest in that country led to President Sebastian Piñera canceling the event. Spain volunteered to step in as the last-minute host, and potentially save the day. Sadly, critics who monitored the proceedings noted that very little was accomplished.
Earlier this year, it seemed there was more momentum on the side of progress:
One figure out of many incredible activist voices to emerge this year has been Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old student from Sweden who made striking from school into a planetary act of civil disobedience. Her Friday strikes led to the creation of an NGO, Fridays for Future. Inspired by Thunberg’s willingness to speak truth to power — chastising government and business leaders in Davos and New York, while using climate-friendlier transportation to get to the conferences — the movement picked up speed. More than 6,100 events were held in 185 countries.
Thunberg’s role in the movement was acknowledged last week as she was selected by Time Magazine as its Person of the Year. And Time reported that, “After noticing a hundredfold increase in its usage, lexicographers at Collins Dictionary named Thunberg’s pioneering idea, climate strike, the word of the year.”
Thunberg had been working her way from New York down to Chile for COP25. But in what was the first overt negative omen (not including feet dragging by the most powerful carbon-emitting governments, from the U.S. and Brazil to China and India), violent protests erupted in Chile, sparked by a four-penny increase in capital-city Santiago’s metro system.
That four-penny increase on a subway ride (in what is Latin America’s highest-ranked country on the UN’s Human Development Index) led to riots that claimed at least 19 lives and torched 22 metro stations. And though certain increases, such as mere pennies, can seem small, they can have enormous consequences. Consider the efforts to keep global temperatures from rising just 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Then Spain stepped in to host COP25, and the conference that almost wasn’t took place (Dec. 2-13), and went two days over schedule (ending yesterday, Dec. 15). And Thunberg attended, making a transAtlantic crossing by sailboat and arriving a few days after COP25 had begun. But what did it accomplish?
COP25 has already been lambasted:
So 2019 closes on a down note. But 2020 is a huge year, what with a U.S Presidential election (and the incumbent having already set in motion U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 Paris Agreement) and the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. There is much to be hopeful for next year, as long as we take action.
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