The 25th UN Climate Change Conference COP 25 in Madrid has begun

The debate on climate protection measures will continue until 13 December, with the motto being "Time to act". 

25th UN Climate Change Conference COP 25 in Madrid.
25th UN Climate Change Conference COP 25 in Madrid.

The extent to which the results this year go beyond declarations of intent remains questionable. 

But at least it seems clear: after a year full of protests, expectations and pressure on the international climate policy community are higher than ever before. 

This is also the result of a recent Eurobarometer survey: the fight against climate change is the most important environmental issue for EU citizens.

For years, the warning calls of scientists and experts are getting louder - but the world community reacts lazily. Only recently has this been clarified by the "Emissions Gap Report" of the UN's environmental program.

If we therefore rely on the national climate protection plans submitted so far under the Paris Agreement, a temperature increase of 3.2 degrees Celsius is to be expected in this century. This would more than double the 1.5-degree target of the Paris Agreement. The three special reports of the IPCC, which have appeared in the past twelve months, also convey that a change of course is absolutely necessary.

That means in plain language: We are still on disaster course and quick corrections are needed. Because with further warming it could come through positive feedback to a fatal momentum of the climate development and its consequences, as scientists have warned again in the journal "Nature" last week.

international climate protection efforts

Against this background, this year's UN Climate Change Conference (COP 25) will clarify how international climate protection efforts can be increased as quickly as possible. Since the politicians participating in the conference are the people's representatives of their countries, the question of the extent to which the people stand behind the efforts to protect the climate is important. 

25th UN Climate Change Conference COP 25 in Madrid 2.
UN Climate Change Conference COP 25 in Madrid 2019.

The European Union has a key role to play in this context, as this community of states contributes significantly to global greenhouse gas emissions and serves as a role model. Within the Union, there is again a particular focus: Germany.

In order to shed light on what European citizens expect from EU environmental policy, the Kantar survey institute conducted a so-called Eurobarometer survey on behalf of the European Parliament. In October 2019, a representative sample of 27,607 people from all 28 EU member states was personally interviewed.

The results of the evaluations were as follows: EU citizens put climate change at the top of their list of priorities. A majority (52%) consider climate change to be the most urgent of all environmental issues, followed by air pollution (35%), marine pollution (31%), deforestation and the growing amount of waste (28% each).

Climate change is the main environmental issue

Across the EU, 32% of citizens are in favour of combating climate change and protecting the environment as the most important issues for MEPs to address. It is the most frequently cited issue in 11 Member States, particularly Sweden (62%), Denmark (50%) and the Netherlands (46%). In Germany, too, the item leads the list of the most important topics (40%).

Climate change survey

Another result of the survey is that climate change was already one of the main reasons for participation in the European elections in May, especially among young people. During the year, the youth led protests organised by Fridays for Future have mobilised millions of people in the EU and around the world. The Eurobarometer survey shows that almost six out of ten EU citizens believe that protests have a direct impact on national and European policies.

Pressure has increased significantly

Parliament President David Maria Sassoli, who will represent the EU at the UN climate change conference COP25, said: "This survey shows very clearly that Europeans expect the EU to take action to combat climate change. It is therefore only natural that the European Parliament in Strasbourg has now adopted a resolution declaring the climate and environmental emergency in Europe and worldwide. We listen to our citizens and stress that it is important to translate words into action," the politician said.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas made a similar statement with regard to the UN Climate Change Conference: "Europe must lead, because only then will countries like China and India follow course. This means that the EU must sharpen its climate targets for 2030 by next year and formulate them more ambitiously. 

The European Green Deal must not remain an empty phrase," Maas said at a briefing on the goals of the 25th UN Climate Conference. Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze also expressed her determination at this event: "An important point is to establish a reliable credit system for emission certificates worldwide. 

I am in favour of a system without loopholes and without double counting, because only in this way can market mechanisms really promote global climate protection. Above all, the major economies - including the European Union - must move forward with more courage. This must be well prepared internationally. We also want to use the conference in Madrid to this end," says Schulze.

The coming two weeks will show to what extent these declarations of intent can be implemented. The increased pressure to succeed and the democratic basis for the motto "Time to act" at least give us some hope.


cmitylliam said…
Since the world has been spending over 350$Billion annually on climate mitigation for more than a decade, it is silly to protest the world is doing nothing. It is more correct to assert that the mitigations achieved have accomplished nothing, even those several $trillion has already been spent. One should think carefully just what that ineffectiveness means.