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WMO urges COP25 to change course on climate action, ambition

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Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez (L) meets with President of the UN General Assembly, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande during the UN Climate Change Conference COP25 at the ‘IFEMA – Feria de Madrid’ exhibition centre, in Madrid, on December 10, 2019. (Photo by Borja Puig de la Bellacasa / various sources / AFP)

The United Nations Climate Change Conference commenced yesterday with a charge that the international community should tackle the climate crisis, change course and step up ambition to prevent the worst climate impacts.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), Petteri Taalas, pointed out that his organisation had published two climate statements this year, insisting that they were not good news.

“Global warming continues. The average global temperature has risen by about 1.1°C since the pre-industrial era and the ocean has warmed by half a degree. 220 million people suffered from heatwaves last year.

“We have started seeing growth in hunger once again. Now, we have more than 800 million people suffering from lack of food,” he said.

Conference of Parties (COP25) President and Chile’s Environment Minister, Carolina Schmidt, cautioned that droughts, fires, and floods were hitting her region, Latin America and the Caribbean, with the most vulnerable being the hardest hit.

“This conference must change the course of action. A change of course in ambition by bringing new actors to the table: Regional, local and city governments and the sector both productive and financial.

“Because the action is not and should not be just a political issue. National commitments are necessary, but not sufficient. No one can be left out,” she said.

She pointed out that the Chilean COP Presidency had for the first time brought on board, not just environment ministers, but ministers of agriculture, science, energy, and not least finance who “hold the purse strings” for climate action.

Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change (UNFCCC), Patricia Espinosa, appealed to ministers to make progress in the remaining days of the COP: “On both a professional and personal level, my message is: We need your decisions. We need your leadership. We are out of time.”


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