Last edited 19 Jul 2021

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The Institution of Civil Engineers Institute / association Website

Key messages from the UN climate change conference

ICE Idaho wind farm.jpg
Four key messages from the UN Climate Change Conference COP 25 held in Madrid, December 2019. Image: A wind farm in Idaho, US.


[edit] Introduction

The UN Climate Change Conference COP 25 (2 – 13 December 2019) was held in Madrid but under the presidency of the government of Chile, and those assembled convened to take the next crucial steps in the UN climate change process.

Following agreement on the implementation guidelines of the Paris Agreement at COP 24 in 2018, a key objective was to complete several matters with respect to the full implementations of the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

[edit] The transition has to be just

Moving to a low-carbon economy is largely thought of as a global economic and technological matter. But it is also a social one where human behaviour will need to be leveraged to achieve the full potential of the transition. The protection of workers linked to the fossil fuel industry will also need careful consideration to avoid widespread discontent.

[edit] COP25 is bigger and more complex than you think

According to the provisional list by the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) there was an expected grand total of 26,706 participants registered for COP25:

  • 13,643 people representing specific parties.
  • 9,987 from observer organisations – such as scientists, business groups and various non-governmental organisations.
  • 3,076 journalists.

The countries with the most delegates were:

  • Côte d’Ivoire 348.
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) 293.
  • Spain 172.
  • Brazil 168.

Despite the United States’ recent decision to start the formal process of withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, its delegation to COP25 (78 people) is much larger than at COP24 (48) and the largest since the Paris COP itself in 2015 (124).

The UK’s (48 people) is similar in size to last year’s (52), while the tally for France and Germany was 124 and 102 respectively. There are two countries which do not have any delegates on the UNFCCC list this year – Bolivia and San Marino.

[edit] Big finance is coming

The world of finance is turning away from fossil fuels; energy companies are continuing to write down the value of oil and gas assets while the value of renewables is on the rise.

[edit] Engineers get ready

From next year’s COP26 in Glasgow, engineers will be asked to play an ever-bigger role to take action on mitigation and adaptation solutions. Climate science will be discussed at these conferences, but solutions and collaborations will likely be discussed by parties in much more detail. Carbon dioxide removal is on the table too – what in the past was called geo-engineering or paraphrased as 'climate altering technologies' will take an important role among the suite of solutions that must be considered to reverse the still increasing CO2 in the atmosphere. In July, ICE signed up in support of action to tackle the climate and biodiversity emergencies the planet is facing, setting a commitment to strengthen its working practices and creating complete engineering outcomes that have more positive impacts on the world around us.

Readers can sign up their organisations here and show their commitment to delivering a more sustainable, low-carbon society.

[edit] About this article

This article was written by ICE member uk Davide Stronati who is also chair of the World Federation of Engineering Organisations (WFEO) Committee on Engineering and the Environment. The article previously appeared on the ICE website in January 2020 and can be accessed HERE.

Other articles by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) on Designing Buildings Wiki can be accessed HERE.

[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki

--The Institution of Civil Engineers

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