The two-week long 25th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) or COP25 began on Monday in the Spanish capital in the backdrop of climate impact biting globally.
This COP is an important meeting.
The reason In 2015, governments signed the Paris Agreement -- the first global UN treaty that saw all nations commit to cutting emissions to zero by mid century. Next year, the same countries are on notice to submit new and tougher climate plans.
This time the talks will take place under the Presidency of the government of Chile and will be held with logistical support from the government of Spain.
"This year, we have seen accelerating climate change impacts, including increased droughts, storms and heat waves, with dire consequences for poverty eradication, human health, migration and inequality," UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said ahead of the onset of talks that is seeing the presence of diplomats and officials of nearly 200 nations.
"The world's small window of opportunity to address climate change is closing rapidly. We must urgently deploy all the tools of multilateral cooperation to make COP25 the launchpad for more climate ambition to put the world on a transformational path towards low carbon and resilience," she said.
A key objective of COP25 is to raise overall ambition also by completing several key aspects with respect to the full operationalisation of the Paris Climate Change Agreement.
Spain's Minister for Ecological Transition Teresa Ribera said the UN climate conference starts a new cycle for more climate ambition and inclusion in 2020 and beyond.
"So we can avoid the 'point of no-return' the Secretary-General has warned of today."
"The global shift from the grey to the green economy is gathering momentum, as we saw from business and finance stepping up at the Climate Action Summit in September, but much more is needed," she said.
Madrid is the city that is hosting the COP25 at the eleventh hour when Chile took the decision not to host the meeting owing to civic unrest.
"I would like to give a special thanks to the two women that join me this morning (November 30) -- personal friends and tremendous examples of strength, conviction and a sense of urgency in the face of the climate crisis -- Teresa Ribera and Patricia Espinosa," said COP25 President Carolina Schmidt, who was handed over the presidency by the outgoing President of COP24, the Polish Michal Kurtyka.
"I want to thank Teresa, and through her all of the government for their enormous support and generosity in hosting the COP25, which Chile presides. This is the best possible example of multilateral work and fraternity in the face of a common problem the climate crisis," said Schmidt, who believes that the people need to be at the centre of climate action.
"We have to change course. Countries must work together and commit to more ambitious goals that will allow us to bridge the gap between current commitments and those needed to avoid the rise of temperatures above 1.5 degrees Celsius as the science dictates," she added.
Over 20,000 participants have landed in the Spanish capital for the negotiations.
Green groups are expected to argue that the root cause of the climate crisis is linked to unbridled capitalism that benefits wealthy polluters while displacing the poorest and putting at risk biodiversity and civilization.
Voices demanding that social justice is at the heart of a zero-carbon world are growing louder.
What's at stake?
At a time when the discrepancies between what governments need to do according to science and what they are actually doing are getting unprecedented global attention, Madrid is the moment when the race for governments to submit new climate plans starts.
These are due in 2020 and, under the Paris deal, they need to be better than previous ones.
Experts believe hosting COP25 is an excellent opportunity for Spain to showcase progress made on energy transition since the socialists came to power in June 2018.
Spanish Minister for Ecological Transition Teresa Ribera is determined to use the COP to advance international action, and also to give her domestic ambitions a boost.
(Vishal Gulati can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)