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2019 UN climate change conference begins in Madrid

The 2019 UN climate change conference began on Monday in Madrid, with leaders looking for solutions to reduce global carbon levels. Leaders originally planned for the conference to be held in Chile, but due to political instability, the conference was moved to Madrid, where it will take place over the next two weeks.

The conference started with statements from prominent leaders, notably António Guterres, the UN Secretary-General. Guterres urged leaders to select the “path of hope.” He characterized this choice as:

A path of resolve, of sustainable solutions. A path where more fossil fuels remain where they should be–in the ground–and where we are on the way to carbon neutrality by 2050. That is the only way to limit global temperature rise to the necessary 1.5 degrees by the end of the century.

The conference begins as new evidence shows record levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The World Meteorological Organization released a bulletin concluding that carbon levels were at 407.8 parts per million in 2018. Guterres mentioned the report in his remarks, noting that 400 parts per million were once considered “unthinkable.”

Global cooperation on reduced carbon emissions remains an uncertainty. US President Donald Trump ordered the US to withdraw from the Global Paris Climate deal. There is some speculation that the EU and China will be making a climate deal next September.

US Takes First Step To Leave Paris Agreement

The United States will become the first country to leave the Paris Agreement in one year.

The Trump administration announced its decision to withdraw from the global pact two years ago but just filed the official paperwork earlier in the week.

The Paris Agreement was officially agreed to by every nation on the planet in 2015 and outlines a basic framework on how to address climate change on a global scale.

The move to withdraw is part of an ongoing effort by President Trump to appease corporate interests and financial concerns in the name of “red tape reduction”.

All of this comes at a time when scientists are urging rapid action to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis. On Tuesday, 11,000 scientists officially declared a global climate emergency.

“Scientists have a moral obligation to warn humanity of any great threat,” said Dr Newsome from the School of Life and Environment Sciences. “From the data we have, it is clear we are facing a climate emergency.”

While concerns about global warming were first published in 1912, it wasn’t until the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its first report in 1990 that the world’s scientists united in their warnings of danger.

The vast majority of climate scientists agree that we have roughly eleven years left to limit fossil fuel use before “untold human suffering” is unavoidable, including extreme heat waves, drought, floods, plaques, poverty, starvation, famine, and war.

While only 61% of Americans say they are concerned about climate change, 70% of Americans believe environmental protections are more important than economic growth.

Yet, the majority of Republicans in Washington are on record as skeptics of science, so the administration’s decision falls directly into the party’s orthodoxy despite the ominous warnings.