The global youth movement for climate action is a sign of the growing awareness in our societies that climate change is a pressing reality today and, if we fail to act now, will increasingly affect the future of the young, their children and grandchildren. It is time to respond to this call to action.
The Paris Agreement is the essential multilateral framework for global action on climate change, but there is a major gap between its global ambition and the current level of efforts.
Last year’s special report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °C warns us about the serious and partly irreversible consequences that would arise from exceeding this threshold. It is just half a degree away from where we are now, yet we are headed for much higher temperature increase. This is well past what the ecosystems and humanity can tolerate and would eventually leave vast parts of our planet uninhabitable.
Climate change has a devastating impact on biodiversity, water resources and ecosystems, and land degradation and agriculture. It acts as a threat multiplier by increasing extreme weather events such as droughts and floods, fueling instability through food insecurity, economic weaknesses, or disaster-related displacements. This has serious implications for livelihood, peace and security across the globe – sparing no country, from the Arctic region to the small island developing states, and with the poorest and the most vulnerable populations being the most affected. For China, without very ambitious action to tackle the emissions leading to climate change, research shows that the North China Plain, China’s most populous region and an important source of food could be facing repeated heatwaves, with conditions deadly for humans, by the end of this century.
Working together with all partners, the EU is determined to help raise global ambition in tackling climate change and lead the way on accelerated action on all fronts.
Under the Paris Agreement, countries have set out their climate action plans in their ‘nationally determined contributions’. We call on all countries to continue to work on domestic policies for the full implementation of their contributions. Much still remains to be done. At the same time, countries should get ready to communicate or update their contributions by 2020, taking into account the existing ambition gap and the latest scientific conclusions, and prepare long-term strategies coherent with the objectives of the Paris Agreement.
Tackling climate change is inextricably linked to achieving the full set of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and closely related to multiple global goals, for example on energy, water and peace. It is essential for reaching China’s goal of an ecological civilization. Only by working together can we effectively address these challenges and reap the benefits.
The EU’s and China’s experience show that the green transition goes hand-in-hand with job creation, food security, protection of biodiversity and public health, offering ample opportunities for economic development.
The EU and its Member States are willing to learn and share their experience to help accelerate global action towards our common goals. We are already doing this through multilateral and bilateral policy dialogues in major economies and developing countries, capacity-building projects and climate finance. European and Chinese experts work closely with each other to exchange good practice and technologies. For example for the development of the China national emissions trading system, which will set a clear price signal to cap emissions and reward emissions reductions for big sector such as power generation, EU and Chinese experts have been in discussion and working together for almost a decade to allow China to learn from the EU’s lessons of what has worked and what hasn’t. Cooperation allows us all to move ahead faster and better.
The clock is ticking. The climate summit organised by the United Nations Secretary-General in September will be a key opportunity to demonstrate a leap in collective national political ambition and massive low-emission movements in the real economy. Let’s work together to accelerate the transition to climate-neutral economies and resilient communities worldwide. We are ready.