European Union External Action

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

Bruxelles, 25/09/2018 - 14:34, UNIQUE ID: 180925_5
Op-Eds

Climate Diplomacy Week is a time, where EU Delegations around the world reach out to communities and partner organisations, highlighting positive global action and collaboration on climate change. 2018 will see two Climate Diplomacy Weeks: the first one from 18-24 June and the second one from 24-30 September 2018. Here is an Op-Ed from Ambassador Jernej Videtič in recognition of this week's outreaches.

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. Guyana in May 2016 ratified the Paris Agreement becoming the 17th country at the time to do so. The early ratification remained consistent with the commitment of the Government of Guyana to strong action towards the mitigation of, and adaptation to, climate change.

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. We expect to see evidence of implementation of NDCs. A meaningful political outcome of the Talanoa discussions should therefore be a commitment by all governments to reflect on their level of ambition in light of 1.5C and to accelerate pace of collective action.

The Talanoa Dialogue also sets the tone for the EU’s annual EU Climate Diplomacy week celebrated this week.

For Guyana the impending oil production slated for 2020 is an exciting prospect for economic development but it is important not to forget that climate change is ongoing and the effects are real and devastating. For a country sitting below sea level it is important to take into consideration the rising sea levels and the potential threats it poses for especially the coastland of Guyana where more than half of Guyana's population resides. On a number of occasions in recent times we have seen what the might of Mother Nature can do especially over the seawalls in Georgetown. The EU will continue its efforts at practices aimed at mitigating climate change and we will continue to support the Government of Guyana in its efforts.

Guyana is already taking steps in the right direction and the Green State Development Strategy [GSDS] announced by President Granger is most commendable and will set the pace in guiding Guyana's economic and sociocultural development over the next 15 years. The EU commends these efforts and we look forward to the launching and implementation of the GSDS.

As a committed partner to Guyana's development the European Union is currently focusing part of its support through budget support with a grant of GUY$ 6.9 Billion from the period 2017-2021 in the Integrated coastal zone Management project which is to support climate change adaptation through an Integrated Coastal Zone Management approach and thereby protect the population in vulnerable, flood prone areas under sea level.

Guyana has benefitted from a number of EU support projects and programmes in the Sea and River Defence sector since the late 1970s. Whereas the 8th EDF focused on rebuilding critical sections of sea walls, the 9th EDF provided a programme of sustainable maintenance coupled with capacity building and institutional strengthening to develop local management capacity in the Sea Defence Sector. The current 10th EDF is providing support through a Sector Budget Support Programme linked to a number of target indicators relating to policy development, capacity building and risk informed investment planning. Policy measures have included the preparation of a Costed Sea and River Defence Sector Policy, an Inter-ministerial MoU on integrated coastal zone management (ICZM) and an updated Sea and River Defence Sector Policy and associated ICZM Strategy.

 

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. Initial calculations indicate that with the agreed legislation fully implemented the EU will be in the position to report reductions quite a bit higher than 40%.

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. It will provide a clear vision of how to have a truly decarbonised economy and will give a clear direction of travel to ensure we have the right investments in place. The Commission is determined to involve and engage all stakeholders to draft this vision and 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.

The EU, its Member States and the European Investment Bank contributed EUR 20.2 billion in public climate finance towards developing countries in 2016. This represents a 15% increase compared to the previous year or a 50% increase from 2012, as well as roughly half of global public climate finance. The EU remains committed to the collective goal of mobilising USD 100 billion a year in climate finance by 2020 and through to 2015 from a variety of sources to support action in developing countries.

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.

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.

Concluding on the Paris Rulebook and with Talanoa at COP24 would be an important stepping-stone towards delivering Paris commitments and providing evidence to the broader public about collective progress to address climate change.

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.

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