From December 2-13, 2019, the international community gathered in Madrid, Spain, to discuss the next steps toward combating climate change at the 2019 United Nations Climate Change Conference, more commonly referred to as COP25. The conference saw a number of public and private stakeholders participate; from the highly publicized journey of youth climate activist Greta Thunberg to the presence of U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi’s 15-member Congressional delegation at the conference, despite President Trump’s previous decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.
Concerning climate updates emitted from the Conference, including estimates that nearly a quarter of the world's population is at risk of future water supply issues due to the decrease of glaciers, snow pack, and mountain lakes as a result of both global heating and rising demand for the resource.
Despite the grand showing, the results of COP25 left many disappointed as broad collaborative agreements at the international level were scant, especially with critical decisions regarding carbon market and carbon emissions being delayed until the upcoming climate conference in Glasgow. More action was seen among non-governmental institutions, international coalitions, and activist groups, such as the Global Catholic Climate Movement and the Climate Ambition Alliance. These organizations and movements highlighted a key shift in the global response to climate change: from a significantly top-down driven approach to a more grassroots crusade initiated particularly by the youth. Through the emergence of climate strikes and social media campaigns, youth activists have taken on a broader responsibility in the fight against climate change, becoming a powerful voice for the larger public’s desperate need to make the environment a governmental priority in the coming years.
China has heeded this call, with Premier Li Keqiang launching a “war on pollution” in 2014 in light of the damage done by the country’s rapid industrial growth. Following these highly successful efforts, the government has expanded its efforts to regulate the carbon production of state-owned enterprises. As President Xi noted in 2018, “We must speed up the construction of a system of ecological civilisation and ensure that the ecology and environment are fundamentally improved by 2035, and that our goal of building a beautiful China is basically achieved.” In pursuit of this goal, the government increased environmental inspections and introduced new guidelines to limit water, air, and soil pollution. On a global scale, China also assumed a leading role in combating climate change, maintaining its commitment to the Paris Agreement despite friction from other nations. The country is committed to continuing these policies and as the world regroups in 2020, China will join governments and organizations throughout the world to prioritize the ecological issues and balance economic growth and the environment.