Settling down — After a high-powered opening with heads of state and government, the UN Climate Conference settled down to work today, with government negotiators meeting in two large committees on a number of issues, including the contentious issue of market mechanisms for trading emission credits. They will work through the week and send their recommendations to the ministers who will be attending next week.
At the same time, there is a constant supply of side events on an array of issues, from e-mobility in India to a discussion of Africa’s development in the age of stranded assets. Many are hosted at the various country pavilions and in side event rooms.
The heat is on — Global warming shows no sign of slowing down: 2019 concludes a decade of exceptional global heat, retreating ice and record sea levels driven by greenhouse gases from human activities. Average temperatures for the five-year (2015-2019) and ten-year (2010-2019) periods are almost certain to be the highest on record. 2019 is on course to be the second or third warmest year on record, according to the World Meteorological Organization. 2016 was the warmest year. Carbon dioxide, which is responsible for two-thirds of the warming, has reached record levels. The ocean is absorbing about 90 per cent of the excess heat so far, and it is causing sea level rise and accelerated ocean acidification.
Climate change and health — The World Health Organization (WHO) released the findings of a survey of 101 countries that showed more countries are finding that climate related health concerns are rising, but almost all countries, both developing and developed, are having problems funding support for the implementation of health plans. WHO officials say that more than 7 million people die prematurely every year due to air pollution, and about 4 billion are due to outside air pollution. Other climate cause health concerns include vector-borne diseases, heat related illnesses and mental health issues.
Climate Action and Tourism — For the small Indian Ocean country of the Seychelles, tourism is vital for the economy. But tourism, sustainability and climate action converge to present a web of challenges for a small country. The national airline, Air Seychelles, has just invested in a new Airbus300 that will save fuel, reduce emissions, and save money. The airline is also working to reduce plastics and aluminum. The sustainability efforts extend to on the ground, where hotels are sustainable-certified. Wills Agricol, Principal Secretary for Energy and Climate Change, said “Small Island Developing States are trying their best.”
The World Tourism Organization estimates that three-quarters of the emissions from tourism are from transportation. Tourism continues to grow each year, with more people traveling and more people employed in the tourist sector. Carlos Gentile, Secretary of Climate Change and Sustainable Development in Argentina said climate is having impacts on tourism in many areas, including ski areas, and others that are getting hotter. Isabel Oliver, Secretary of State for Tourism of Spain, said it was possible to grow the tourism industry, but it had to be done responsibly. She said Spain was fully aligned with the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. With 8,000 kilometers of coastline, there was a need to plan to promote the blue economy.