After having been relocated from Santiago to Madrid, this year’s U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP 25) has started off to mixed expectations. As the prelude to 2020’s COP 26, in which countries are expected increase their commitments to reducing emissions and environmental impact, this year’s conference is primarily an opportunity to smoothen out the legislation and cooperation needed for them to do so.
A main focus within this is resolving outstanding issues in creating rules for carbon markets, as described in Article 6 of the Paris Agreement on climate change, which broadens out to include issues ranging from Indigenous peoples’ rights to the health of carbon-storing ecosystems to youth activism.
As the first week of the COP is well underway, Landscape News talked to participants about their hopes and expectations for this year’s event.
“It’s a bit like being at your favorite festival and not knowing which band to go see (laughs). We’re 56 people in total – 20 people on the ground and 36 people on the ship in Martinique following live everything that is happening and communicating with us.
“So this is a really interesting experiment of how to lobby, how to participate in such negotiations with a mix of online and real-life participation. If we want to call for a more conscious travel industry and aviation industry, this is exactly the sort of thing that we need to be practicing and using in the future. That’s the really interesting part of this experience.” –Samantha Gan Kristensen, Sail to the COP
Sail to the COP is a group of young changemakers in Europe who sailed to the UN conference in Chile before it was relocated to Madrid, in order to raise awareness about the deleterious climate effects of the travel industry. The group on the ship activated counterparts in Europe to stand in for them in Spain.
“I mean, essentially the whole protein supply chain can be totally disrupted. It depends on what people will eat or not. Ten years ago, it was USD 1 million per kilogram to make artificial protein. Now, I think it’s like USD 100, and they estimate that in 10 years’ time, it will be 10. There’s a prediction of a 50 percent decline in the cow numbers in the U.S. by 2030, with bankruptcy in that industry. So these are the kinds of things that are on the horizon.
“I’m more realistic about what can be achieved in this [COP] environment. Even talking about diets within certain constituencies is almost off the table. So I really think that it’s outside that’s going to cause change. It’s the Greta Thunbergs, it’s the youth that are going to drive the serious change.” –Bruce Campbell, program director of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS)
“Peatlands have gotten more and more attention as ecosystems that can be used as part of mitigating climate change, because they are storing so much carbon. If you compare them with normal terrestrial forests, the amount of carbon stored in peatlands is huge – five to six times bigger. So it’s very crucial to maintain peat in-tact, and see the degraded ones restored.
“I’ve been in 26 COPS. I was in the two pre-COPs…so it’s been a long journey. This COP is very crucial, as have been many other COPs. But after going through the process of a quarter of a century, if we are thinking about net-zero emissions in 2050… this is a kind of a emergency, if you wish. Chile has a very clear agenda about blue carbon in the role of oceans. And Chile holds the presidency here.” –Daniel Murdiyarso, principal scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research
“My community is located deep, deep in the Taiga Forest, and my people, we call ourselves ‘forest people.’ It means that our lives and our futures depend on forests and products of forests – nuts, berries, mushrooms and rivers. It means life for us.
“For my community and for Indigenous peoples in Russia, men are the traditional knowledge holders. They know everything, they notice everything, but they don’t bring attention much outside of the community. But the role of Indigenous women is to be responsible for spreading traditional knowledge out. When they work together, Indigenous men and women, it’s impossible to divide them, and each person has a role in this struggle [against climate change].
“About Article 6, I hope Indigenous peoples’ rights will be included in there. And of course I hope that this COP will bring much more attention to climate change in Russia. Russia just ratified the Paris Agreement, and I really hope our situation with climate change will be changing this time, because right now it’s worse, not better.” –Daria Egereva, Centre for Support of Indigenous People of the North