Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Korea

OpEd: Paris Agreement five years on – a renewed call for leadership

12/01/2021 - 06:37
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To deliver on the Paris Vision COVID-19 recovery and the fight against climate change must go hand in hand


On 12 December – the day that marked the five-year anniversary of the Paris Agreement- a number of world leaders including President Moon Jae-in came together to celebrate and recognise the resolve of so many in working towards a safer, more resilient world with net-zero emissions. A world we can be proud to leave to our grandchildren.

The climate ambition summit brought us the following questions. In the midst of the pandemic, is it realistic to call for stronger global action to fight climate change? We say the case is now more pertinent than ever. Looking at massive wild fires in Australia and the US, permafrost melting and intense weather events in Asia, more intrinsic question might be: Can we afford to let things worsen?

The science says we cannot. We must move beyond the harmful carbon-intense economy and invest in greening the global economy for sustainable prosperity.

Even before the pandemic, the European Union committed to leading a green transition. In December 2019, the European Union launched the European Green Deal – a new growth model and roadmap to achieve climate neutrality in the EU by 2050. The main objective of the deal is to lead the twin green and digital transition to transform the way we produce, consume and live and to create more green jobs.

Now, a year later, we are aligning our policies in areas ranging from energy to industry, agriculture and biodiversity with our sustainability. This is now the EU’s action plan for recovery from the pandemic. We believe our green recovery offers an opportunity to “build back better” for a “New Normal,” where we reinforce resilience and sustainability for our future.

We know, however, our good intentions for a green recovery in Europe will not suffice unless all of us are doing and working together. No country can tackle this global challenge alone. There is a sense of a global momentum emerging towards keeping the promise of the Paris Agreement. Already, the list of the ‘net-zero club’ are growing. President-elect Biden has also indicated that the US will move in the same direction.

Our leaders welcomed President Moon Jae-in’s announcement on the 2050 net-zero emissions goal. President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said the EU looks forward to working with Korea to deliver on the Paris agreement and the Green Deal. Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans also highlighted Korea’s commitment and encouraged other countries to join in the global efforts to tackle climate change.

With climate neutrality as the direction of travel, what is more important and imperative than ever is that we all need to come forward with clear long-term strategies for the net-zero goal and enhance our level of ambition for 2030 in the run up to the COP26 in Glasgow in November 2021. In this respect, on 11 December, EU leaders unanimously agreed on our 2030 target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% compared to 1990 levels. It will provide predictability for our businesses, industry and citizen. It will further accelerate the fast decrease in the costs of low carbon technologies – for example, the cost of solar photovoltaics declined by 82% between 2010-2019. Achieving the 55% target will even help us save €100 billion in the next decade and up to € 3 trillion by 2050.

We appreciate Korea’s efforts to build its nation back better in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope to see Korea emerge as a leader on climate action by taking bold steps now to enable ambitious climate commitments and to update its NDC. To this end, we look forward to continuing our close cooperation with Korea, ahead of the P4G Summit held in Seoul and the COP26 in Glasgow, delivering on the Paris Agreement.

Together we  can  avoid  the  most  dramatic  impacts  of  climate  change  on  our  societies. We owe it to next generation: major  victims  of  social  and economic  consequences  of  the  pandemic,  they  will  have  to  bear  the  burden  of climate change and pay off the debt of the recovery.

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