Yesterday, 2nd December 2019, has been the first day of the 2019 Climate Change Conference (COP25): more than 25.000 people are reunited in Madrid to discuss about the climate crisis. This is an important conference because next year the Paris Agreement will become fully operational. The leading figures of the Conference are three women: Carolina Schmidt, president of the COP25 and Minister of the Environment of Chile; Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); and Teresa Ribera, Minister for the Ecological Transition of Spain.
Women always had an important role in environmental issues. In 1857 a scientist discovered the effect of greenhouse gases on the temperature of our planet. “That scientist had a name” said the President of the Spanish Government Pedro Sánchez during the Opening Ceremony “and it was a woman’s name: Eunice Newton Foote”. As women at that time could not fully take part in scientific activities, all the credits of the research went to Foote’s colleague Prof. John Henry.
Today women have more voice, and the fact that the COP25 is led by three women is the proof. Carolina Schmidt opened the ceremony and introduced the other speakers. The first to take the floor was Hoesung Lee, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and representing the scientific community. He underlined that “we are clearly in a crisis” and, if we will not decrease emissions, life on earth will be in danger. Scientific reports are the evidence of this threat.
António Guterres, the Secretary General of the United Nations, also stressed the urgency of the problem. He claimed that humanity may follow two paths. On the one hand, we could choose the path of surrender and reach a point of no return; on the other, we could choose the path of hope and save us. We have to take the right decision now because we are not in a position to wait. We have the technologies and the tools to act: what is missing is the political will and full engagement.
As the president of Chile was not able to participate to the conference, he registered a video message. He thanked Spain for hosting the conference, after the Chilean Government renounced to host it in Santiago because of the current political situation. “It is incredible how Spain organized this event in such a short time” commented President Carolina Schmidt, “there was a great spirit of cooperation: the same spirit that is necessary to save our planet”.