A series of high-level events comprised the public-facing side of the Chile/Madrid Climate Change Conference on Wednesday. Behind closed doors, ministers and negotiators discussed Article 6 (market and non-market mechanisms), loss and damage, gender, and the periodic review of the long-term global goal.
A High-level Event on Climate Emergency started the day, moderated by High-level Climate Champion Gonzalo Muñoz. Panelists included scientist Johan Rockström, Minister Teresa Ribera, Spain, and civil society leaders Jennifer Morgan and Greta Thunberg. Together, they highlighted urgent messages from climate science and called for “true leadership” and “urgent transformations.”
Activist Greta Thunberg placed her hope in democracy: “It is the public opinion that runs the free world. Every great change throughout history has come from the people. We do not have to wait. We can start the change right now—we, the people,” she said.
Looking back, ministers discussed the state of mitigation action and support that took place before 2020. While some noted that “the pre-2020 period ends in 20 days,” others placed utmost importance on the event to build trust among parties as they start to implement the Paris Agreement in 2020.
Those at the Global Climate Action High-Level event heard about private sector sustainability initiatives such as in the financial sector, and reflected on how these can achieve scale and lead to transformative change. Liaising with the International Space Station (ISS) in a live video chat, UN Secretary-General António Guterres exchanged with Luca Parmitano, astronaut from the European Space Agency and current ISS Commander, on how a shared dream can foster collaboration between nations. Parmitano emphasized the need to “do justice to our planet’s beauty and fragility,” noting the role of science in developing innovative solutions.
With protests disrupting the proceedings, and calls from a wide range of voices—from indigenous peoples and youth to Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland—for people to "get angry and to act," the divide between optimism and outrage was palpable.