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Russell Jones looks at the likely outcome of the COP25 meeting in Madrid

The next two weeks will see COP25 (or ‘conference of parties’) take place in Madrid to discuss how our political leaders can come together to resolve the climate crisis.

As around 50 of the world’s leaders attend the meeting in Spain’s capital, António Guterres, the UN Secretary General has warned that: "the point of no return is no longer over the horizon".

Commenting that the climate crisis was imminent and it was up to the leaders to come together and respond, he added: "We simply have to stop digging and drilling and take advantage of the vast possibilities offered by renewable energy and nature-based solutions".

Although President Trump is currently not scheduled to attend COP25, almost every country has now signed and ratified the Paris climate agreement, which means they all have to put new climate pledges on the table before the end of 2020.

So, of course we will see some progress, won’t we?

Change is coming in different ways

Whatever our political leaders decide in Madrid in the next fortnight and, next year in Glasgow, is urgent and vital but regardless, there is a major trend that is heading towards a ‘greener’ world and these leaders will quickly be found out if they fail to get on board.

Look back to just over a year ago and it would simply not have been possible to predict the school strikes having such a profound impact on the climate debate.

Greta Thunberg deserves a lot of praise for her determination to make sure this ‘hot’ topic stays firmly fixed in the news agenda.

It is also not possible to forget the powerful and dramatic impact that Sir David Attenborough and his Blue Planet programme have had on raising awareness of the disaster unfolding before us.

This tide of awareness has seen the public mood move away from simply not thinking about these big, global, scary things, to actually questioning how you as an individual, can make a difference. That’s why we are seeing a growth in veganism and vegetarianism.   

Follow the money

Today, we see news that coal power stations are now becoming uninsurable according to a new report which says that not only has the number of insurers withdrawing cover for coal projects more than doubled in the last year, for the first ever time, this includes American companies also taking action.

The report, which rates the world’s 35 biggest insurers on their actions on fossil fuels, declares that coal – the biggest single contributor to climate change – “is on the way to becoming uninsurable” as most coal projects cannot be financed, built or operated without insurance.

Others are predicting that we have now reached the end of coal power generation with 2019 seeing the largest fall in electricity produced from coal, with renewables, nuclear and gas production more than offsetting the drop in the use of coal.

However, the report authors also warn that even with this rapid decline, the use of coal globally is far higher than it should be if we are to stop global temperatures rising above 2 degrees.

Stop investing in ‘dirty’

This move to stop tying up capital in what are increasingly being seen as ‘dirty’ industries will become true of other carbon-intensive methods of energy or heat production.

There seem few who seriously believe that fracking in the UK is now a viable or sustainable method of fuel production.

We are also seeing a tremendous growth in heat pumps for domestic use as more households realise that they can’t just sign up for another 10-15 years of oil heating for their homes.

This growth in sustainable and renewable, electric heating with heat pumps is going to ramp up significantly as we move away from gas as our primary method of heating.

The next big issue for our government, whatever it looks like after the election, will be getting the millions of existing homes and buildings refurbished and upgraded so that we increase their thermal efficiency and stop wasting energy by heating ‘leaky’ buildings.

Russell Jones is content and communications manager and curator of The Hub