MRI at UN Climate Change Conference COP25
MRI News
article written by MRI
10.12.19 | 06:12

During the UN Climate Change Conference COP25, the MRI celebrated International Mountain Day 2019 on 11 December by raising a voice for mountains at this important event. 

The UN Climate Change Conference COP 25 (2 – 13 December 2019) took place in Madrid, Spain under the Presidency of the Government of Chile and with logistical support from the Government of Spain. The conference was designed to take the next crucial steps in the UN climate change process. Following agreement on the implementation guidelines of the Paris Agreement at COP 24 in Poland last year, a key objective of COP25 was to take steps towards the full operationalization of the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

The conference furthermore aimed to build ambition ahead of 2020, the year in which countries have committed to submit new and updated national climate action plans. Crucial climate action work is intended to be taken forward in areas including finance, the transparency of climate action, forests and agriculture, technology, capacity building, loss and damage, indigenous peoples, cities, oceans, and gender.

Our Changing Mountains at COP25

Against this backdrop, a number of sessions and events were held as part of COP25 to showcase diverse climate change issues. On International Mountain Day on 11 December 2019, the Mountain Research Initiative was represented at several of these events by MRI Executive Director Carolina Adler, who spoke on the challenges and opportunities facing our changing mountains as highlighted in the recent IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC). 

“Shining a spotlight on the focus on mountains in the IPCC assessments at COP25 was an opportunity to celebrate the collective input of all in the MRI community to the reports and scientific works that formed part of the assessments conducted for the IPCC – as well as the reviewers, contributing authors, lead authors, and all who have helped to elevate the voice of mountains and mountain research in these key global policy processes.”  – MRI Executive Director Carolina Adler.

A full list of the COP25 events attended by the MRI can be found below. 

Also celebrating International Mountain Day at COP25, on behalf of the Swiss Federal Agency for Development and Cooporation (SDC), was the State Secretary, Director of the Federal Office for the Environment in Switzerland, Mr. Marc Chardonnens, who officially launched the Global Programme on Climate Change Adaptation in Mountains. The MRI is proud to be a partner of this programme, galvanising the mountain research community to enhance climate knowledge and improve services to address impacts and adaptation to climate change in mountains. We will share more information about this new programme, and how you can be involved, in early 2020.

Key Publications Launched

The day after International Mountain Day at COP25 saw the launch of Cryosphere1.5°, Where Urgency and Ambition Meet. This report into the impacts of climate change on the Earth’s cryosphere was published by the International Cryosphere Climate Initiative, and combines the findings of the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 ºC and the IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC), plus studies that have been published since. Its conclusion? Failure to choose policies now that keep global warming below 1.5°C will result in a cascading series of disasters. Thank you to all in the MRI community who contributed to the IPCC SROCC, and whose work thereby also features in this important publication highlighting the plight of the Earth’s cryosphere in key global policy processes.

Another important publication launched during COP25 was 10 New Insights in Climate Science, presented to the UNFCCCs Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa and distributed to negotiators and journalists. The report highlights the most recent advances over the last twelve months in scientific understanding of the drivers, effects, and impacts of climate change, as well as societal responses. It is the third annual publication by Future Earth and The Earth League, and each of the report’s ten chapters were reviewed by some of the world’s leading scientists to provide a trustworthy, accurate, and unbiased summary of the latest climate science. As a Strategic Partner of Future Earth, the Mountain Research Initiative’s Executive Director Carolina Adler and Scientific Officer Aino Kulonen were among the reports contributers, which devotes chapter three to the impacts of climate change in mountains. 

MRI at COP25 Events

The WMO and the Icelandic Met Office: ‘Mountains, Glaciers, and Snow’
Cryosphere Pavilion, 10.00-11.30am, 11 December 2019.

Changes in the area and volume of ice and snow are strong indicators of global warming, and nowhere are such changes more visible than in the Arctic where the warming rate is twice as high as the global average over vast areas. Essentially all glaciers in the Arctic are retreating and thinning at present, causing a large proportion of the current rise in global sea level.

The session featured four presentations followed by a panel discussion of changes in the Arctic cryosphere and its environmental and societal implications. The presentations were as follows:

  • ‘Challenges in the High Mountain Regions – A Summary from WMO’s Recent High Mountain Summit.’ 
    Carolina Adler, MRI Executive Director and Co-Chair High Mountain Summit
  • ‘Changes of Arctic Glaciers in Response to Climate Warming’
    Dr. Tómas Jóhannesson, Coordinator of Glaciological Research, IMO.
  • Hydrological Impacts of Climate Change’ – Designated by UNESCO-IHP
    Dr. John Pomeroy, Director of the Global Water Futures Program
  • ‘The Role of WMO’s Global Cryosphere Watch – A Key Mechanism for Cryospheric Observations’
    Dr. Árni Snorrason, Dir.Gen, IMO and Chair GCW Steering Group

ICIMOD: ‘Even 1.5 Degrees is Too Hot for the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) Cryosphere: Key Findings from the HKH Assessment Report and the IPCC SROCC Report’
Cryosphere Pavillion, 11.30am-13.00pm, 11 December 2019.

The first HKH Assessment report warned that even 1.5 degrees is too hot for the HKH region, and will lead to the loss of one-third of glacier volume by the end of the century. At current emission trends, two-thirds will be lost. This session discussed the key findings of the HKH Assessment report related to the HKH cryosphere, and the IPCC SROCC findings on high mountain areas pertaining to the HKH. Through presentations and panel discussions the session addressed the overarching question of how to increase climate urgency and ambition to ensure global warming is kept well below 1.5°C by 2100.

The 90-minute event featured four presentations and a panel discussion on changes in the HKH cryosphere and the urgent need for raised ambitions to reduce emissions. The presentations were as follows:

  • ‘Even 1.5 Degrees is Too Hot for the HKH: Key Findings from the HKH Assessment Report’
    Philippus Wester, Lead Editor of the HKH Assessment Report and Regional Programme Manager Mountain Knowledge and Action Networks, ICIMOD
  • ‘The Voice of the HKH in the IPCC Special Report on Cryosphere and Oceans in a Changing Climate (SROCC)’ 
    Carolina Adler, MRI Executive Director and Lead Author IPCC SROCC Chapter on High Mountain Areas
  • ‘The Melting HKH Cryosphere and What it Means for People: A Perspective from Nepal’
    Manohara Khadka, Country Director Nepal, International Water Management Institute
  • ‘Tackling Air Pollution in the Hindu Kush Himalaya and îts Links with the HKH Cryosphere’
    Eri Saikawa, Associate Professor, Department of Environmental Sciences, Emory College

Building Resilience of Mountain Communities: Data and Science for Policy Action
Room 1 (official side event), 16.45pm-18.15pm, 11 December 2019

On International Mountain Day, this event focused on scientific evidence regarding the risks and opportunities facing people living in mountainous regions. Participants discussed research findings and how to translate data and science into specific policies, strategies, and actions.

Speakers: Representatives from governments, international agencies and major groups that are members of Mountain Partnership. Country delegates, scientists, practitioners, and other stakeholders presented solutions and mechanisms to address shared priorities under UNFCCC and other international processes

MRI Executive Director Carolina Adler gave a presentation on ‘The IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate – Overview for Mountain Regions.’

From Andes to Alps and Other Mountains: Elevating Regional Cooperation on Monitoring and Climate Change Adaptation
Room 1 (official side event), 18.30pm-20.00pm, 11 December 2019

The world’s mountain regions are facing similar challenges in terms of monitoring and adaptation action, which provides opportunities for cooperation and knowledge exchange. This event gathered representatives of various mountains and featured the launch of the SDC-funded global mountain programme.

Speakers: Representative of Andes (Chile/ Ecuador) – Representative of Caucasus – Representative of East Africa – Representative of Himalayas (Nepal) – Representative of Alpine region (Austria/Alpine Climate Board) – Representative of Carpathians. Keynotes by SDC, MRI, and UNEP.

MRI Executive Director Carolina Adler gave a keynote on ‘High Mountains in the IPCC SROCC – Key Findings.’