Delegation of the European Union to Australia

Joint EU Heads of Mission Op-Ed – Climate Diplomacy Week 2018

Canberra, 18/06/2018 - 02:49, UNIQUE ID: 180618_3
Op-Eds

EU steps up international cooperation on climate change in 2018, a crucial year for Paris Agreement implementation

The scale of the climate challenges we face today and in the future is clear. The adverse effects of climate change are already being felt around the world and pose a great threat to our planet and its people. Moreover, they could undermine both the development gains made over many decades and the prospects for achieving the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.

The Paris Agreement on climate change – the landmark global agreement adopted by almost 200 countries in 2015 – sets out an action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change. It has set the direction of travel for the global transition to low-emission, climate-resilient economies and societies.

However, we already know that on aggregate the emissions reduction targets put forward by countries in Paris will not be enough to reach our common objective of limiting global warming to well below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels, let alone 1.5°C. The upcoming special report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will unfortunately show us that the window to stay within these limits is closing very fast. This is why we must continue to raise our collective ambition and speed up the implementation and operationalisation of the Paris Agreement.

This year, governments and stakeholders from round the world are getting together to assess how far we have come since Paris and to look at solutions and possibilities to enhance action under the  ‘Talanoa Dialogue’. Taking place throughout 2018, this facilitative process – inspired by the Pacific tradition of ‘talanoa’, an open and inclusive dialogue – is the first opportunity since Paris to look at our collective efforts so far, as well as opportunities to increase global ambition.

The EU sees the Talanoa Dialogue as a key moment to focus on the solutions and potential associated with the low-carbon transformation, while also enhancing cooperation and trust. It also sets the tone for the EU’s annual EU Climate Diplomacy week celebrated this week. In Australia, we are organising half a dozen events to engage with a broad range of stakeholders, share experiences and explore avenues for further collective action.

Another important deliverable for the international community this year is adopting the Paris Agreement work programme – detailed transparency and governance rules for putting the agreement into practice. Adopting this “rulebook” at the next UN climate conference (COP24) in December in Katowice, Poland, is vital. A clear and comprehensive set of transparency rules will enable us to track and demonstrate the progress being made around the world and give all sides – developed and developing countries alike – a shared framework to deliver on our shared vision.

The EU is well-advanced in putting in place its domestic legislative framework for delivering its target of cutting domestic greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.  This includes, for example, revising the EU emissions trading system for the period after 2020, setting national emissions reduction targets for sectors not covered by emissions trading, and integrating land use in our climate legislation. These key pieces of legislation were all recently adopted, and further proposals on clean energy and mobility are in the pipeline.

In parallel, we are looking beyond 2030. In March 2018, EU leaders asked the European Commission to present, within 12 months, a proposal for a strategy for long-term EU greenhouse gas emissions reduction, following a similar request form the European Parliament. The Commission will make its proposal ahead of COP24 to provide a solid foundation for an EU-wide debate. 

Simultaneously, the EU is stepping up international cooperation and support to partners outside the EU, for example through policy dialogues, capacity-building projects and climate finance.

For global efforts to have the desired impact, a decisive response is required from all nations and particularly from the major economies, which together account for some 80% of global emissions. The EU helps advance dialogue and cooperation between major economies for example through its Strategic Partnerships for the Implementation of the Paris Agreement, a three-year programme with EUR 25 million funding mobilised by the EU Partnership Instrument and the German International Climate Initiative. As part of this programme, we will work with Australia to support practitioner to practitioner exchanges of experience in climate policy modelling and design with a 2050 horizon. 

While the Paris Agreement sets the direction of travel, the journey has only just begun. Going forward, all countries will need to the foster the right environment to enable this transformation to continue, supporting a long-term structural change in energy systems worldwide and shifting and scaling up investments that contribute to it.

Low-emissions and climate-resilient growth is possible for countries at all levels of income and brings multiple and tangible benefits for people, the economy and the environment. The EU is committed to work with all partners to continue this journey together.

Michael Pulch, Ambassador of the European Union to Australia, on behalf of the Heads of Mission of the European Union Member States in Australia.

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