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COP25 in Madrid: Cities claim their role in fighting climate change

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Spain's acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez
Spain's acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez -
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REUTERS/Sergio Perez
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The role of cities in decarbonisation and the impact of climate change on health have been the main issues addressed on the second day of the COP25.

Cities claimed their essential role in mitigating the impact of climate crisis on Tuesday, as they are responsible for 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

The mayor of Medellín, Federico Gutiérrez, said that in order to achieve global climate action it is necessary to start from the local level. "We can have many differences - political, religious - but there is something that we all have in common: the air that we breathe.

Seville's mayor Juan Espadas recalled that local governments have the chance to "commit their people to a collective challenge such as climate change".

Health and climate change

The World Health Organisation (WHO) presented the global survey "Health and Climate Change". The institution estimates that, if the measures foreseen in the Paris Agreement were implemented, more than one million deaths could be avoided every year.

The WHO calculates that the environmental risks linked to climate change represent more than 12 million deaths annually.

The organisation also warned about the lack of funds in the majority of states to address the health risks of climate change. Difficulties accessing drinking water or an increase in disease are just two of the multiple impacts that the WHO pointed out.

A year marked by record temperatures

2019 will close a decade of record temperatures and will be, at least, the second or third warmest since there records exist, explained Petteri Taalas, secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

According to Petteri, efforts to protect the climate are still insuficient: the ice in the poles is melting and heat waves are increasing in intensity and frequency, as well as floods, fires, storms and extreme weather events, due to greenhouse gases caused by human activity.

Madrid's mayor criticised by indigenous leader

A representative of the Indian Movement of America Mario Agreda criticized the mayor of Madrid José Luis Martínez-Almeida for saying he would prefer to save Paris cathedral of Notre Dame before the Amazon Rainforest.

"The Amazon is more important than a church. I tell you this from the bottom of my heart," Agreda said, before pointing out that "children and young people" will have to breathe in the future.

Agreda was referring to a statement made by Martínez-Almeida on Madrid's local television.

The television program was broadcasted last September and the mayor had to respond to questions posed by students on different current issues.

When asked by a child whether he would donate money to restore Notre Dame or the Amazon, the mayor chose the Parisian church because "it is the symbol of Europe and we are in Europe".

The indigenous leader told Martínez-Almeida to not take his comments "as something bad". "The Ibero-American project is making a constructive critic," he said.

Greta Thunberg on her way

Greta Thunberg arrived in Lisbon on Tuesday, after 21 days sailing the Atlantic. However, she will spend a couple of days in Lisbon before travelling to Madrid.

"People are underestimating the force of angry kids," Thunberg told a crowd of reporters and supporters after she disembarked. "They're angry and frustrated".

The 16-year-old climate activist sailed to Europe from Virginia in the US to attend COP25.

Thunberg is on a 48ft catamaran called La Vagabonde, with an Australian couple who are travelling the world with their newborn child by boat and posting about their experience on YouTube.

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