Dan Huntsha, North and West Suburbs Outreach Director had the opportunity to attend COP 25 in Madrid, Spain back in December. Find out Dan's impressions and what they mean for us here in Illinois.
The unprecedented Paris Climate Agreement was crafted at COP 21 in Paris. I had the opportunity to go to COP 25 in Madrid, Spain in December 2019 as a climate observer with the Christian Climate Observers Program (CCOP). The whole experience was a bit overwhelming to take in at first—the venue was massive, bustling with activity everywhere I looked. There were many discussions, negotiations, trainings, and workshops to attend every hour.
Many climate experts, negotiators, presidents and prime ministers along with other heads of states from all over the world were present, from Bangladesh to Honduras to Malawi to Slovakia and many more. All participating countries completely agreed that every country needs to increase its ambition, urgency, and implementation to address climate change with a transformational, rather than incremental, approach.
One way to address these needs is through making National Determined Commitments (NDCs), which are each country’s plan for its own emissions reductions. Many of the parties called for all to make plenary commitments to new/higher NDCs at COP 25 that would be added to the agreement next year at COP 26. But only a few smaller nations, particularly the low-lying island states, submitted more ambitious NDCs, while all major emitting nations continue to lead from behind with insufficient reduction pledges.
Most countries agree that cutting emissions by 50% is needed by around 2030 and that aiming for being carbon neutral by 2050 is an ambitious, but necessary goal. It is sad to see our country lag far behind as the current administration is not currently setting any new ambitious goals and is even pulling us out of the Paris Agreement too. However, this does not take effect until the day after the 2020 presidential election. A U.S. president can notify at any time that the U.S. wants to opt back into the Paris Agreement, and it will take effect in 30 days.
As a person of faith, I feel deeply compelled to respond, to seek justice, show love to our Creator and brothers and sisters here and around the world who are depending on the U.S. to take action. What is great is that many people, organizations, and states in the U.S. are acting based on the, “We’re Still In” pledge to fulfill and surpass the Paris Agreement targets.
I was proud to let others know at the conference that Illinois had previously passed the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA) in 2016 that called for approximately a 50% reduction in Illinois energy production emissions by 2025 through a combination of renewable energy and efficiency. Now is the time to build on that success and apply COP 25's shared goals here in Illinois.
We have an amazing opportunity this current legislative session to go to Springfield on March 4th for Advocacy Day with other environmental organizations from the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition and make the case to our elected leaders that we must pass clean energy legislation as soon as possible. Greater energy efficiency, renewable energy, electric vehicles, rate affordability, and just job creation will help Illinois to continue to be a leader. Together, we can do our part to keep in step with the world’s goals of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. Please join us in March!