Maisa Rojas: "The world is finite"

Published on Thursday, 10 October 2019

“It might not seem much, but with the world’s surface very flat at sea level, it could cause intense flooding. The study gave the world three powerful core messages: half a degree matters, each year makes a difference, and every decision counts. These concepts have changed the narrative for those of us who work in climate change, and I hope for everyone, in this area.”

– Maisa Rojas, COP25 Scientific Coordinator

The IPCC report is clear in its message that in order to limit warming to 1.5°C, the carbon dioxide emissions released by humanity must be reduced 45% by 2030, with the goal of reaching zero net emissions by 2050. “Climate change risk assessments have evolved over the course of time, and we have realized that our previous evaluations about what the effects would look like were conservative,” stresses the COP 25 Presidential Committee scientist.   

Symptom of a sickness

Studies show that global warming began 180 years ago, with the industrial revolution’s impact on the climate. “I believe that we need to realize that global warming is a symptom. When someone is sick you take their temperature, and if it rises you know they’re getting worse. Global warming is a symptom of a very severe crisis. It is a crisis in how we have been thinking about development for the past 200 years, when we find out that the fossil fuels that we thought were so fantastic, thinking that the world was infinite, but we come to realize that no, it’s evidently finite,” says Rojas.

The climatologist believes that over the years, industries have been based on a linear economy, built on competition, in which professionals “only see a part of the story,” so profound changes are now needed in order to be able to halt climate change. 

“We need changes on a scale that has no precedent. We are going to need to reduce emissions in all sectors. We need to make a very profound change that starts with the ways in which we educate and train professionals.”

– Maisa Rojas, COP25 Scientific Coordinator

Maisa adds that she would like to see the transformation of Chile’s energy sector bringing other social, economic, and environmental changes. “I see them as having set a very good example. Five years ago, we used to think that maybe it could make the change to 80% renewable power by 2050. Things have changed much faster than we thought, and keep accelerating,” she notes

COP 25, a success for Chile

In the first half of December, COP 25 will inundate Chile with environmental awareness. “This summit is already a success. The fact that climate change is getting talked about is a transformation for the country. As is the way we are talking about becoming carbon neutral by 2050, because that will determine what happens over the next 30 years in Chile. How will we achieve these goals? This is still something of an open question, but it’s a challenge that I find fascinating, in which we are all going to have to do our part,” says Maisa Rojas.

The scientist calls for action, because the awareness garnered to date about climate change is one step forward, but much work remains to be done, and there is a need to establish this topic as the main item on the agenda for coming years.

“En Chile, if you can go out on the street on December 15 asking people about what COP is and they don’t know, that would be a failure. Sharing and putting climate change at the center of attention is critical, because this isn’t something that the minister can solve alone in her office in Central Santiago: it needs support from all of us.”

– Maisa Rojas, COP25 Scientific Coordinator