The global youth movement for climate action is a strong sign of the growing awareness in our societies that climate change is a pressing reality today. It is apparent to all that if we fail to act immediately, the future of the youth and coming generations on the planet will look bleak – at best. Thus, it is time for all of us 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 the global ambition set out in this Agreement and the current level of commitments and efforts.
The 2018 special report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °C warns 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 increases. This is well beyond what ecosystems and humanity can tolerate and would potentially leave vast parts of our planet uninhabitable and lead to the extinction of thousands of species. This process of extinction is already there.
Climate change has a devastating impact on biodiversity, water resources and ecosystems. It causes land degradation and agriculture. It threatens human lives by multiplying extreme weather events such as droughts and floods. It increases instability through food insecurity, economic downturn and disaster-related displacements. This change has serious implications for livelihoods, peace and security across the globe. In an ever more interdependent world, no country will be spared; from the Arctic region to the Small Island Developing States. But for sure, the poorest and the most vulnerable populations and countries will be the most affected.
Several environmental changes have already occured in Sudan. More are projected to happen in the future. Sudan has witnessed extreme increases in temperature, devastating floods, rainfall variability, and severe droughts. It is expected that the temperature will continue to rise in Sudan to as much as 3°C by 2050, with a more extreme increase in the north, an area already affected by desertification (!). Continued variation in rain patterns, droughts effects increased through greater evapotranspiration and reduced soil moisture will mean an increasingly difficult context for rain-fed farming in Sudan. Drought has also been and will continue to be a stress factor on pastoralist communities, particularly in Darfur and Kordofan, as well as in the East thus contributing to regional disturbances and undermining stability and security.
Water resources are extremely important to Sudan’s continued economic development and social cohesion. Climate change, combined with increased water consumption (for human and animal consumption and agriculture development) could lead to a situation of crisis in Sudan, particularly in the North. This means that domestic and cross border resource management efforts, based on participatory and consultative principles, will need to be enhanced – at all levels.
Another threat is the loss of biodiversity, particularly along Sudan’s coastal zones, which will negatively impact the livelihoods and economic opportunities of the population dependent on coastal resources. Sudan’s coastal zones are experiencing little growth in infrastructure development, industrial activity and population. Yet they are vulnerable to multiple climate change risks such as sea level rise, which can damage infrastructure and to increased salinity of freshwater aquifers. Changes in surface temperature and salinity could also negatively impact Sudan’s Red Sea shoreline of diverse and get relatively undisturbed ecosystems.
Working together with all partners, the European Union is determined to set and meet ambitious targets in tackling climate change, and leading the way to accelerated improvements.
Under the Paris Agreement, all countries have set out their climate action plans in their ‘Nationally Determined Contributions’. The EU calls on all countries to continue to work on domestic policies for the full implementation of these contributions. Much still remains to be done. At the same time, all countries should get ready to communicate or update their contributions by 2020, taking into account the existing ambition gap and the latest scientific conclusions. They should at the same time 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. Only by working together, can we effectively address these challenges and reap the benefits.
The European Union’s experience shows 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 has “walked the talk” and seen the benefits.
The EU is willing to learn and share experiences to help accelerate global action towards our common goals. We already do this through multilateral and bilateral policy dialogues, capacity-building projects and climate finance. In Sudan, the EU has committed a total of EUR 38 million in 2017 to finance actions that address climate change in the Sudan. The EU has financed projects in this sector aiming to improve access to water, strengthening the sustainable management of the natural resources, combating desertification, reinforcing communities' resilience to climate change and mitigating the impact of El Nino. These activities are implemented in Kassala, Red Sea, River Nile, White Nile and North Darfur States. The EU will continue to support Sudan in preventing dangerous consequences of climate change and support projects that address environmental and health protection and promotion of international action to tackle environmental threats, especially climate change.
The clock is ticking. The climate summit organised by the United Nations Secretary-General in September in New York will be a key opportunity to demonstrate a leap in collective national political ambition and massive lowemission movements in the real economy. Let us work together to accelerate the transition to climate-neutral economies and resilient communities worldwide. The EU is ready. We hope are our partners are too.
Written by the EU Head of Delegation to the Republic of the Sudan