COP25: Greta says “educate adults” on climate science

cities and circular economy at cop25

The Greenhouse PR team is in Madrid for the COP25 UN Climate Change Conference, which takes place from December 2-13. As leaders from around the world gather to discuss how to achieve the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global temperature rise towards 1.5C, we will be blogging each day from both high-level and side events throughout the summit. You can also follow us live from COP25 on Twitter.

After a busy first day yesterday, today we attended panel discussions and roundtables featuring some of the world’s biggest climate leaders. And yes, that means we got to see Greta. Here are some of the most pivotal issues we heard today at the UN Climate Change Conference.

Greta at COP25

This morning at COP25, Greta Thunberg and Luisa Neubauer led a talk entitled ‘Unite Behind the Science’, calling on everyone to heed the warnings given by scientists that we’re hurtling towards irreversible climate chaos. It’s inspiring and refreshing to see young people taking charge of events like this, in a predominantly old, white and male space.

The topic of education has been widely discussed at the UN Climate Change Conference, with calls for climate change to form a crucial part of national curriculums. But, as Greta explained to the crowded COP25 action event, “It is not only children and young people who need to be educated. We must educate adults too. We need to translate these numbers and this science into something relatable.”

Indeed, young people are often at the forefront of change compared to former generations, as Greta stated: “We have the technology to tackle the climate crisis, but we need to change the politics. And young people are doing that.”

Cities and the circular economy

Cities are responsible for three-quarters of global emissions – so putting cites at the centre of climate discussions is key. A roundtable on cities and the circular economy was led by Martina Otto, Head of Cities at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), who stated: “Essential to scaling the transition is involving industries in the conversation.”

Operating a circular economy run by renewable energy would help us to achieve carbon neutrality, while simultaneously supporting other environmental projects, such as biodiversity protection and adaptation. No wonder this year’s conference appears to have dubbed it the economic model of the future.

Emissions Gap

Today Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP, focused on the recently published United Nations Emissions Gap report 2019. This year’s report finds that despite progress made on climate policy and renewable energy, our global emissions have nonetheless hit a new high, and there is little evidence that we will see a peak any time soon.

One of the report’s key authors, Anne Olhoff, explained that if we follow our current set of targets, we will hit +3.2°C by 2100 – which is “nowhere near ambitious enough. We need to be cutting emissions by 7.6% per year until 2030.”

Managing to close this gap is doable, but it requires serious action – and fast.

Powering Past Coal

Following the release of Unfriend Coal’s scorecard report last week – revealing that the number of insurers dropping cover for coal has more than doubled in a year – there is heightened awareness of the need to rapidly phase out coal. The Powering Past Coal Alliance led a collection of panel discussions in the UK hub about how to accelerate the transition from coal to clean energy.

The Alliance has gained over 90 members since its launch at COP23 two years ago, committing to phase out 35% of the OECD’s total coal capacity by 2030. The Alliance is now calling for no new coal by 2020, and to follow UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ recent call to “stop subsidies for fossil fuels and the creation of new power plants based on coal in the future”.

As we reach the middle of COP25’s second week, expect to see more high-level events making headlines, including announcements due tomorrow. We will be sharing the day’s most critical highlights.

Will Vowell, Madrid

Greenhouse PR works with organisations and leaders who are pioneering climate action. Whether it’s food, fashion, finance or farming, if you’ve got a great story and need our help to tell it, get in touch with the Greenhouse team on 0117 214 1250 or email