EU steps up international cooperation on climate change
NOTES FROM THE EU DELEGATION - Franz Jessen (The Philippine Star) - June 23, 2018 - 12:00am

 2018 a crucial year for Paris Agreement implementation

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 or at least limit the dangerous effects of climate change. The historical agreement has set the direction of travel for the global transition to low-emission, climate-resilient economies and societies.

However, we already know that, on aggregate, the emissions reduction targets put forward by signatory 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. 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.

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 EU climate legislation. These key pieces of legislation were all recently adopted, and further proposals on clean energy and mobility are in the pipeline. 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 € 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 $100 billion a year in climate finance by 2020 from a variety of sources to support action in developing countries around the world including the Philippines. Promising avenues include further developing renewable energy and energy efficiency, creating enabling environments, reducing emissions from aviation and shipping, stepping up global action to phase down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), shifting finance flows and mobilising private and public finance towards low-carbon and climate-resilient choices, supporting climate action initiatives worldwide and involving regional and local leaders in these efforts. The EU and its Member States will continue to provide support in these areas.

We must however recognise that the EU cannot by itself provide a solution to the global threat of climate change. We are all in this together and collective and fair action by all is the best way to achieve ambition. For global efforts to have the desired impact, a decisive response is required from all nations, particularly from the major economies, which together account for some 80% of global emissions. As agreed in Paris, all Parties developing and developed countries alike should strive to formulate and communicate long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies. In this context, the European Commission will present a proposal for an EU strategy in November 2018. In addition, several EU Member States have already communicated their long-term low greenhouse gas development strategies to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

With regard to the Philippines, the European Union is committed to support the significant efforts already initiated by the Government and to facilitate mobilisation of international climate finance, support cooperative initiatives, integrate capacity building and offer its experience with low-carbon technology for a just transition to a clean, low-emissions economy and resilient society in the Philippines.

While the Paris Agreement sets the direction of travel, the journey has only just begun. Going forward, we together will need the foster the right environment to enable this transformation to continue, supporting a long-term structural change in energy systems and shifting and scaling up investments that contribute to it. Countries at all levels of income around the world have already succeeded to lower emissions and maintain climate-resilient growth which have brought multiple and tangible benefits for people, the economy and the environment. 

The EU is committed to continue working with all its partners and stakeholders around the world as well as countries such as the Philippines to continue this journey together.

But more than ever, the time to act in solidarity to combat climate change is now.  

 (Franz Jessen is the Ambassador of the European Union.)

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