Taking stock of international summits on climate change still depends on whether the bottle looks half full or half empty. The summit held on September 23 in New York is of course no exception.

The famous speech by young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg has gone viral, highlighting the inability of politicians to bring carry out the transformative actions necessary to change our production model. However, there is a group of optimists, including the Climate Action Summit 2019 , who believe that a great step has been taken with respect to achieving the objectives set for 2020. In this sense, it is true that 77 countries committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, that 70 countries announced that will boost their national action plans for 2020, and that more than 100 business leaders took concrete actions to align with the goals of the Paris Agreement, among other positive news.

If the current situation is studied objectively, however, the bottle is half empty because 3 of the countries that contribute the most to climate change, such as China, the US and India, do not They are willing to reduce their emissions. In this regard, it should be remembered that, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency, these three countries together with the Union Europe are responsible for 60% of total global emissions. On the negative side, it also highlights the fact that there are more speeches than concrete plans and actions that monopolize climate summits. As an example of the limited scope of the meeting, it should be remembered that France and the United Kingdom have affirmed in New York that they will be carbon neutral by 2050, a promise that they had already announced months ago but that still has not materialized into measures of success. Regarding Spain, the acting head of government, Pedro Sánchez, announced that Spain will contribute 150 million euros over the next four years to the Green Climate Fund. However, it should be remembered that, according to a report by Oxfam Intermon (2016), Spain only disbursed 1% of what it promised to contribute during the 2015-2018 period.

The problem with our inability and/or lack of interest in changing the situation is that climate predictions are worse than previously thought. A group of French scientists predict that by 2100 the increase in global average temperature will be 6.5 to 7ºC higher than it is today. Just today, published a story of the report by the panel of experts from the UN (IPCC) that shows how the oceans change – warming, sea level rise, etc. – puts the income and livelihood of millions of people at risk.

You can propose all the technological solutions you want to address climate change, or wait for some entrepreneur or company to invent a solution to save us “in-extremis”. The fact is that until we accept that our current standard of living, our economic-productive model, is unsustainable, and that we urgently have to carry out changes that the social and business majority will not like, we will continue impassive until we exceed the point of no return. This society needs new leaders; not only those of people like the young Greta Thunberg, but also others with relevant positions who can implement measures. We are on time, but we must act now.

Julen González Redín
PhD in Sustainable Development