Who should be 2019’s climate champion?

(Climate Change News, 11 Jan 2019) Chile faces huge challenges as 2019’s UN climate presidency, it will need to use every tool available, including the underused climate champion role.

As the Cop presidency shifts to Chile in 2019, it’s a critical moment to step up climate ambition. But in the current geopolitical climate, Chile will need to think outside the box to get other countries to do so. Appointing a revolutionary high-level climate champion could be a critical part of a bold Cop25 strategy.

At Cop24 in Poland last month, countries reaffirmed their 2015 commitment to consider making new pledges on climate action, or nationally determined contributions (NDC), and to put forward long-term strategies in 2020. As the IPCC’s special report on limiting global warming to 1.5C made clear, these must aim toward climate neutrality by the middle of this century and come with concrete, short-term steps to lower emissions immediately.

In other words, Chile has stepped into a big role. It brings some impressive credentials to the job as one of the world’s leading success stories for renewable energy, including in the challenging mining sector. This renewable revolution should give the government ample space to increase its own 2015 NDC (rated “highly insufficient” by Climate Action Tracker) in 2020. Indeed, the administration of president Sebastián Piñera is already in the process of formulating a comprehensive new climate change law under the leadership of the dynamic environment minister Carolina Schmidt.

But getting other countries to follow suit would challenge even a diplomatic superpower. Chile will need to be ambitious, organized, and creative. While much of the diplomatic heavy lifting around “enhanced ambition” will come from the UN secretary general’s September 2019 climate summit, Cop25 will be a critical moment to drive forward new pledges.

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Climate Change News, 11 Jan 2019: Who should be 2019’s climate champion?