UN Climate Change Conference in Madrid: It is time to act

SMA UN-Klimakonf

Today, millions of people around the world are once again taking to the streets to call on international politicians to finally implement effective measures for greater climate protection. This sends an important message to the UN Climate Change Conference COP25 that begins in Madrid on Monday. It will become apparent at this conference whether the international community is serious about its fight against the climate crisis.

Photovoltaics offer enormous potential

The news prior to the summit is mixed. In early November, for example, the U.S. government officially submitted to the United Nations its declaration to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. The German Federal Government’s climate protection law has fallen far short of expectations. China has called an end to subsidies for large scale PV power plants and is also building hundreds of new coal-fired power plants both in China and abroad. A total of 11,000 scientists have declared a climate emergency and, in its World Energy Outlook 2019, the International Energy Agency (IEA) continues to view oil as the world’s most important energy carrier.

At the same time, however, the IEA predicts the rapid growth of photovoltaics and wind energy due to their falling costs and declares that renewable energies have a key role to play in the fight against climate change. This is a view backed by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), which expects photovoltaics to be the most affordable and important power source worldwide in just a few years and considers the unlocking of its enormous potential as essential to achieving the climate targets. To leverage this potential, both organizations are demanding rapid and decisive action from politicians. A first step here, albeit only symbolically for the time being, was yesterday the declaration of a climate and environmental emergency by the EU Parliament.

Climate killers must pay a price

From Monday, around 25,000 representatives from almost 200 countries will come together at the UN Climate Change Conference in Madrid to negotiate the implementation of the 2015 Paris climate agreement. You could set another example at a global level. One focus on their agenda will be on establishing rules for international trade with pollution rights. Such an agreement is urgently required because CO2 pricing is an important step toward establishing fair competitive conditions between conventional and renewable energy sources. Only when a reasonable price is set for greenhouse gas emissions internationally and all countries take part in this mechanism can we achieve effective climate protection.

Politicians still have a lot to do

Beyond the Climate Change Conference, there is still much for international politicians to do to ensure that everyone benefits from the falling cost of renewable energies and so do their bit to keep global warming at less than 1.5°C. For example, regulatory framework conditions for business models in the field of renewable energies must be integrated into a sustainable market in a non-discriminatory manner, and bureaucratic obstacles to broad public participation must be removed. Services from renewable energies that contribute to system and grid stability have to be appropriately remunerated in order to yield economic benefits. In addition, the level of electrification in the transport, heating and power-to-X sectors is not yet sufficiently aligned with the cost advantages of photovoltaics. The financing of new fossil energy infrastructures should be outlawed internationally, as should subsidies for climate-damaging energy carriers. And finally, sanctions should be imposed on first-world countries that breach international climate protection guidelines.

I really hope that the voices of the many people around the world who are back out on our streets protesting for climate protection are finally heard and that the delegates in Madrid take action at last and make bold, pioneering decisions to halt the climate crisis. We simply cannot afford to delay any further.

 

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