Délégation de l'Union européenne en Suisse
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European Green Deal – External Dimension

02/06/2021 - 15:37
Policy - Activity

Climate, Environment & Energy : Climate change and environmental degradation are an existential threat to Europe and the world. The EU promotes the approach of the European Green Deal of a just transition towards sustainable, resource-efficient and climate neutral economies and energy systems.

green deal, climate

The EU is a climate leader: guided by science, it has stepped up its domestic commitments, adopting the objective of climate-neutrality by 2050, and enhancing its short-term GHG emission reduction target, and thus the EU’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), to at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990.

The EU contributes to fighting climate change at global level through both domestic action and international cooperation.

Domestic policies, legislation and initiatives include:

Climate Diplomacy

Fighting climate change requires sustained political and diplomatic mobilisation at global level, especially by the G20 countries accounting for almost 80% global emissions. The EU uses its foreign policy instruments, including policy dialogues, high ambition alliances and partnerships, international negotiations and financial instruments to advance the sustainable development and climate change agenda and promote its implementation in partner countries. Areas of engagement include:

Adaptation

To support countries around the world in adapting to climate change the EU finances a wide variety of programmes and projects. Examples of adaptation measures include: using scarce water resources more efficiently; adapting building codes to future climate conditions and extreme weather events; building flood defences and raising the levels of dykes; developing drought-tolerant crops; choosing tree species and forestry practices less vulnerable to storms and fires; and setting aside land corridors to help species migrate.

The EU will increase support for international climate resilience and preparedness through the provision of resources, by prioritising action and increasing effectiveness, through the scaling up of international finance and through stronger global engagement and exchanges on adaptation.

The EU adopted its own new EU Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change on 24 February 2021. The new strategy sets out how the European Union can adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change and become climate resilient by 2050

Climate and Security

Climate change is one of the most pervasive current global threats to peace. Extreme weather events linked to climate change (hurricanes, floods, fires, tropical storms, drought, desertification, etc.) become more and more numerous. Their impacts occur against a backdrop of ongoing and worsening political conflict and humanitarian crises, with which they interact.

Climate change impacts have geopolitical effects, affecting security, development and peacebuilding. All countries are affected, but poorer ones disproportionately so. Climate change impacts are already affecting the security of vulnerable communities, especially in fragile contexts where governance is already stretched. These impacts can affect political stability, food security, economic weakness and engender large-scale movement of people.

The EU has recognised the link between climate and security for over a decade and identified the following main principles for action:

  • ensure mobilisation at the highest level in national, regional and multilateral fora
  • support the implementation of the Paris Agreement
  • develop reporting and early warning tools, in priority in most exposed countries and regions
  • put the premium on prevention
  • promote a comprehensive approach to create synergies between climate action, development policy and security dimension
  • promote the role of women as agents of social, economic and political change

The EEAS, in collaboration with the European Commission and the European Defence Agency, developed in November 2020 a specific roadmap focused on the challenges of climate change for the Defence sector, as a contribution to tackle the wider climate and security nexus.

Climate finance

The EU and its Member States are the world’s largest donors of climate finance, with EUR 23.2 billion committed in on 2019.

Green Diplomacy Network

Coordination of the EU’s external action in this field is supported by the Green Diplomacy Network . The GDN works at European level in Brussels and around the world where EU Delegations and Member State embassies work in a coordinated way to implement EU priorities and/or organize outreach through events, seminars, public diplomacy actions and official demarches, as fostered in particular through the Climate and Energy Diplomacy Conclusions of 2020 and 2021.

Energy Transition

The primary goal of the EU’s energy diplomacy is to promote and accelerate the global transition of the energy sector, which is responsible for over two-thirds of global GHG emissions, to decarbonisation. To this end, the EU promotes among others energy efficiency, renewable energy and the take-up of new green technologies, such as hydrogen.

EU energy diplomacy discourages all further investments into fossil fuel based energy infrastructure projects, unless they are fully consistent with an ambitious, clearly defined pathway towards climate neutrality  and calls for the phasing-out of unabated coal in energy production.

Energy Security

Fossil fuel security will remain important in the coming years, and EU Energy Diplomacy will continue to promote open, and liquid global markets to this end. In the meantime, the EU also prepares for new energy security challenges stemming from raw material supply chains, cybersecurity concerns, access to clean energy technologies among others.

Geopolitics and global governance

The energy transition will have significant impact on societies and can have geopolitical consequences. Energy Diplomacy will support energy and economic diversification of our partners and will support a just transition leaving no one behind. The EU will actively promote the alignment of existing multilateral governance structures with the Paris Agreement, and the development of effective such mechanisms which are essential to drive the global decarbonisation of the energy sector.

Biodiversity

Biodiversity is essential for life. Nature provides us with food, health and medicines, materials, recreation, and wellbeing. A healthy ecosystem filters our air and water, helps keep the climate in balance, converts waste back into resources, pollinates and fertilises crops and much more.  In May 2020, the EU adopted its Biodiversity Strategy for 2030. It sets out specific actions and commitments aimed at reversing the degradation of ecosystems and put Europe's biodiversity on a path to recovery by 2030. It will also support a green recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Strategy proposes a new, strengthened governance framework and for the EU to lead in addressing the global biodiversity crisis. Ambitious domestic action must be matched by effective and collaborative international action - it is a priority for the EU to agree on an ambitious post 2020 global biodiversity framework at the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP15) in Kunming.

The EU also has also endorsed the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature as an expression of the need to increase efforts to address the interrelated challenges of biodiversity loss, deforestation, pollution and climate change in an integrated and coherent way.

Circular Economy

The EU has been working to improve natural resource management and towards a climate-neutral, resource-efficient and circular economy for many years. In March 2020, a new Action Plan ‘For a cleaner and more competitive Europe’ was adopted. The Action Plan is our roadmap towards achieving a circular economy in the EU and in the world.

As part of these actions, the EU and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), in coordination with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) launched the Global Alliance on Circular Economy and Resource Efficiency (GACERE) in the margins of the meeting of the United Nations Environment Assembly in February 2021 (UNEA 5.1). Zero Pollution: Pathway to a Healthy Planet for All

On May 12, 2021, the Commission adopted the EU Action Plan: “Towards Zero Pollution for Air, Water and Soil”. The plan sets out a vision to achieve a world, where pollution is reduced to levels that are no longer harmful to human health and natural ecosystems, whilst respecting our planetary boundaries, by 2050.

Pollution is the largest environmental cause of multiple mental and physical diseases, and of premature deaths, especially among children, people with certain medical conditions and the elderly. A toxic-free environment is also crucial to protect our biodiversity and ecosystems.

The Action Plan sets the key 2030 targets for reducing pollution at source and outlines a number of flagship initiatives.

Pollution does not stop at borders and as the EU acknowledges that it is both the victim and the source of pollution, the Action Plan foresees reinforced external action. The EU in fact is committed to leading the global fight against pollution.

Flagship Initiatives for the key actions include inter alia reducing the EU’s external pollution footprint by restricting the export of products and wastes that have harmful, toxic impacts in third countries, or supporting global action on the export of end-of-life vehicles (ELVs) and used vehicles.

The new EU Action Plan and Together with the Chemicals Sustainability Strategy, the EU Zero Pollution Action Plan translates the EU's ambition to achieve a toxic-free environment.

The concept of food system includes every step of food lifecycle, notably production, transport, transformation, commercialisation and consumption.

The transition towards sustainable food systems is therefore a key component of the green transition, ensuring social, environmental and economic sustainability (healthy people, healthy societies and a healthy planet). Food systems are globally responsible for around one third of greenhouse gases emissions.

It is also a contribution to the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development, in particular the “zero hunger” and “good health” objectives.

The Farm to Fork Strategy is the main EU contribution in this field, combining new standards for EU production and consumption, as well as promotion of these standards towards partner countries and relevant international organisations.

world oceans day, biodiversity, underwater

International Ocean Governance plays a crucial role in fostering healthy oceans, halting the loss of biodiversity and fighting climate change. In 2016, the EU was the first economy in the world to develop an International Ocean Governance (IOG) Agenda.

The EU is taking strong action to improve the status of the marine environment, however more needs to be done to reverse negative trends: Climate driven ecosystem disruption, extensive pollution and biodiversity loss are placing considerable pressure on the oceans. Exacerbated by the difficulty of governing such a public shared global good, there is a need for more effective, cross-cutting and integrated ocean governance - built on strong partnerships, international cooperation and multilateralism.

As part of the follow-up action to the Commission’s 2016 IOG Agenda the International Ocean Governance Forum consultation process was launched. Created  as  a  platform  for  all  stakeholders  to  share  their  expertise, understanding, experiences and good practices on ocean governance, the IOG Forum presented key recommendations for future EU action.  

The recommendations will feed into the update of the IOG Agenda, which is an integral part of the European Green Deal and the EU's response to the United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular, Sustainable Development Goal 14.

Tensions and conflicts over access to water continue to rise, as the world’s water resources and ecosystems deteriorate, and the threat of water scarcity spreads. Water has thus become a foreign policy issue, as recognised in the EU by 2013 Foreign Ministers Conclusions. On 19 November 2018, the Foreign Affairs Council adopted Conclusions on EU Water Diplomacy. The Council made the case for making the link between water, security and peace, including the potential of water as an instrument for peace.

The Council Conclusions on EU Water Diplomacy adopted on 19 November 2018 seek to develop an approach to water in a post 2015 world which reflects increasing challenges (such as climate change or growing water insecurity) and the impact on EU water diplomacy of both the UN 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The Council Conclusions recognise the potential for water to affect international peace and security and stress the importance of transboundary water cooperation and governance. The Council Conclusions also highlight the EU's commitment to the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, as components of the right to an adequate standard of living (in accordance with UN HRC Resolution (A/HRC/RES/39/8) of 27 September 2018). They are expected to have an impact in the programming of future financial and technical cooperation with third countries.

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