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UN Climate Conference begins in Madrid

Pedro Sánchez advocates more ambitious commitments and "enhanced multilateralism" to combat climate emergency

IFEMA (Trade Fair Institution), Madrid, Monday 2 December 2019

In his speech at the plenary session of the COP25, Pedro Sánchez recalled that the existence of the greenhouse effect was theorised back in 1857 by Eunice Foote, although its discovery was publicly addressed by her colleague, Professor Joseph Henry, since women were not authorised to outline scientific works at that time.

Progress, added the Acting President of the Government, has been conceived for many decades behind the backs of women and without taking into account the physical limits that make human life viable on this planet. "Women and the environment, here are two realities ignored for too long by humanity, but without which the present and the future are unimaginable", he declared.

The Acting President of the Government underlined that we now have scientific certainty that man is behind the harm caused to the fragile equilibrium that allows life on Earth and it is also incumbent on man to repair it and prevent future harm. "Fortunately, there are only a handful of fanatics that deny the evidence nowadays", he stressed.

Real and ambitious commitments

The battle against the climate emergency, remarked Pedro Sánchez, requires courage, determination, solidarity and, above all, "turning words into action", particularly as 2018 once again saw record concentrations of carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere, with figures that further endanger the goals of the Paris Agreement to limit the increase in global temperatures on pre-industrial levels to 1.5 degrees.

The Acting President of the Government stated that Madrid has become, until 13 December, the global capital in the fight against the climate emergency, "with a renewed climate ambition and a real commitment to action to benefit the planet". He stressed the need to mark a turning point and arrive at the Glasgow Conference in 2020 with more ambitious national contributions and long-term strategies that lead to orderly, just and effective decarbonisation.

Spain, claimed Pedro Sánchez, is ready to take this step forward and increase the rate of emissions reductions committed to by the year 2030, albeit under the premise of not leaving anyone behind. The Acting President of the Government proposed a "great green deal" to fairly assimilate the impact of this transformation and link in innovation, digitalisation and decent jobs.

This deal would be in line with the targets set by the European Union, which must head up decarbonisation, said Pedro Sánchez. "Humanity has reached a point in which committing to its survival equates to fighting for a better world", he remarked.

Dialogue between countries and with society

Pool Moncloa/Fernando CalvoThe Acting President of the Government stressed that the COP25 will be the Conference of dialogue between countries and of "enhanced multilateralism" - delegations from 196 countries are attending, including some 50 Heads of State and Government and the top representatives of the European Union and senior officials from such international institutions as the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Over the course of these days, Madrid will also become the capital of dialogue with society, added Pedro Sánchez, through the involvement of more than 1,500 groups and organisations, hundreds of companies committed to the Sustainable Development Goals and a "whole generation of young people who refuse to be silent regarding the growing degradation of the planet". In total, close to 30,000 people have registered to attend the Conference.

The Acting President of the Government acknowledged the "extraordinary work" carried out by Chile to organise the COP25, which Spain offered to host after Chile withdrew due to the domestic situation in the country.

Urgent transformations

At the inauguration of the Conference, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, thanked the Governments of Chile and Spain for their joint work to make this event possible, an example of the necessary multilateralism to combat the climate emergency, he said.

António Guterres pointed out that the last five years have seen the highest ever recorded temperatures and sea levels are rising faster than had been forecast. If far-reaching transformations are not adopted quickly in such fields as industry, energy and transport with a global perspective whilst also catering for social justice, then the impact on all forms of life on Earth will be catastrophic, he warned.

Meetings with international leaders

Pool Moncloa/Borja Puig de la BellacasaFollowing the inauguration of the COP25, Pedro Sánchez will take part in a round table with other leaders on more ambitious national plans to combat the climate emergency.

Also within the framework of the Conference, the Acting President of the Government held meetings with the Heads of State and Government of EU countries, with the Prime Minister of France, Edouard Philippe, and with the UN Secretary-General. On Monday afternoon, he will meet up with leaders of Latin American countries and give a press conference together with António Guterres.

Non official translation