Climate change summit COP25 was held on 2-13 December – right at the best time to sum up the results of the year. These results can’t be called absolutely negative, but not many were happy with them: the reaction included protest marches, demonstrations, and speeches of young activists. Let’s try to figure out what environmental changes the 2019 brought to us, what topics were most relevant at COP25, and what real actions are ready and can be taken by governments and corporations to prevent a global catastrophe.
Preliminary Eco-Results for 2019
The preliminary results show that, although the growth rate of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere is reducing, the year 2019 is going to set a new sad record for this indicator. For the last five years, the volume of emissions worldwide has been growing by around 0,9% annually. Specifically, air contamination is gradually decreasing in the USA and Europe but continuing to grow in China, India, and Russia. However, while China made serious improvements after 2012 – over the past 7 years, emissions growth has slowed down significantly – in India, a stable growth by 1-2% annually is observed over recent years. Air pollution is also increasing in Russia, but CO2 emissions into the atmosphere are currently 30% lower than in 1990.
At COP25, the most frequently raised topic was the topic of financing and compensation to developing countries for possible damage. In several sessions held in the first week of the summit, representatives of African (Uganda) and Latin American (Belize, Honduras) countries have repeatedly stated that they expect more financial assistance from developed countries (better a small fish than an empty dish). Representatives of European countries, in turn, without shrugging off responsibility, recommended that colleagues from developing countries also pay attention to attracting private investment, but this option didn’t cause great enthusiasm.
The theme of historical eco-responsibility and ecological debt is becoming more and more popular among representatives of developing countries. Countries that used to be European colonies, and simply states with historically underdeveloped industry, believe that developed countries should be much more active in preventing an impending environmental crisis. However, many European countries are already increasing subsidies to environmental funds and set ambitious goals to reduce emissions, but prefer doing it on a voluntary basis.
According to forecasts based on research by Dr. Karin van der Wiel from Princeton University, the global warming will mostly affect almost the entire territory of Africa, a large part of South America, as well as India and the northern part of Australia. In these regions, days with conditionally favorable weather are expected to reduce by 30-50 per year. In Europe, by contrast, average annual weather will become milder. Therefore, the concerns of Africa and South America are quite understandable. What’s more surprising is the shortsightedness and masochism of those who continue to increase emissions, the consequences of which will hit their own country in the first place.
Prospects for the coming years
On the COP25 opening ceremony, the Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Hoesung Lee noted that in order to achieve the main goal – to limit the global warming at 1.5 C – the CO2 emissions must reach a climax in the coming year and then reduce stably. Europe and North America have already achieved this goal. Emissions in Europe are already reducing, and the European Commission is actively launching new programs in this direction. The EU is also ready to provide help in ecologization for countries that are more dependent on the use of fossil fuels, such as Poland or the Czech Republic. The United States, despite the exit from the Paris Agreement, has shown neutral emissions dynamics in recent years. And a candidate for presidency Michael Bloomberg said that if he was elected in 2020, the United States would rejoin the Paris Agreement and set a course for ecologization.
Large investors and corporations demonstrate an increasingly active position. The group of institutional investors supporting the Paris Agreement and interested in investing in eco-projects has already increased to 631 participants. The total amount of funds under their control reached 37 trillion dollars, which is more than half of all investment capital in the world. And a number of investors with a total capital of $ 4 trillion have even announced that they will purposefully transfer capital to eco-assets, leaving enterprises polluting the environment.
This could be a great opportunity for developing countries that are in need of funding. If the countries of Africa and South America had created favorable conditions for foreign capital, they would not only have received additional funds but also would have made a significant contribution to protecting the environment. However, in practice, the conditions in these countries do not inspire investors’ confidence. And the countries themselves are in no hurry to abandon the extraction of natural resources. While China is wrapping up fundings for the production of solar panels and launching new coal mines instead, Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil are planning to produce large volumes of oil in the Amazon forests belonging to local Aborigines. Whatever the environmental debt of Europe is, developing countries should at least accept the help, rather than build up their own debt to nature.
Generally speaking, anyone can contribute to environmental protection, the most important here is to have the desire. Only a lazy person hasn’t written yet about the use of bicycles instead of gasoline cars and the benefit of walking, and those who wanted to are already spin the pedals (generating eco-energy at the same time). But there are other ways too. By reading a book instead of watching a two-hour movie, you will save about 3 liters of gasoline. Or to be more precise, you will save the atmosphere from exhaust gases from the combustion of these 3 liters. We would also recommend replacing 30 minutes on PornHub with 1986 Playboy magazine, but… these guys outplayed us and launched an action for environment protection ;).