As we approach the start of the 2017 edition of the internationally celebrated “Climate Diplomacy Week”, we look at the extraordinary Agreement reached in Paris in 2015 by nearly 200 countries. The Caribbean countries, the ACP and the EU played a key role in the successful negotiations.
Climate Change is a challenge we can only tackle together and, since the beginning, Europe has been at the forefront of this collective engagement. Today, more than ever, Europe recognises the necessity to lead the way on its implementation, through effective climate policies and strengthened cooperation to build strong partnerships. Now we must work as partners on its implementation. There can be no complacency. Too much is at stake for our common good. For Europe, dealing with climate change is a matter of political responsibility and multilateral engagement, as well as of security, prevention of conflicts and even radicalisation. In this, the European Union also intends to support the poorest and most vulnerable.
For all these reasons the European Union will not renegotiate the Paris Agreement. We have spent 20 years negotiating. Now it is time for action, the world’s priority is implementation.
Together with the global 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, the Paris Agreement has the potential to significantly accelerate the economic and societal transformation that we need in order to preserve our common future. As we address climate change with an eye on the future, we picture the creation of countless opportunities, with the establishment of new and better ways of production and consumption, investment and trade and the protection of lives, for the benefit of the planet. To accelerate the transition to a climate friendly environment, we have started to strengthen our existing partnerships and to seek and find new alliances, from the world’s largest economies to the most vulnerable island states. From the Arctic to the Sahel, climate change is a reality today, not a remote concept of the future.
However, to deliver the change that is needed and maintain the political momentum, it is vital that the targets pledged by countries and their adaptation priorities are now translated into concrete, actionable policies and measures that involve all sectors of the economy. This is why the EU has decided to channel 40% of development funding towards climate-related projects in an effort to accelerate countries’ commitment to the process.
The EU has provided – and will keep providing – substantial funding to support climate action in partner countries. The EU will also continue to encourage and back initiatives in vulnerable countries that are climate relevant as well as safe, sustainable energy sources. For the Caribbean region, grant funding for projects worth € 80 million is available. The aim is twofold: to improve resilience to impacts of climate change and natural disasters and to promote energy efficiency and development of renewable energy. This funding will be complemented by substantial financing of bankable climate change investment programmes from the European Investment Bank and other regional development banks active in the region. With the Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA) instrument, the European Union already works with agencies in the Caribbean such as the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) or the Caribbean Climate Change Community Center (5C’s).
In November this year, countries will gather in Bonn for the next UN climate conference – COP23 – to continue to flesh out the work programme for implementing the Paris Agreement. Next year, the facilitative dialogue to be held as part of the UN climate process will be the first opportunity since Paris to assess what we have done concretely to deliver on the commitments made. These are key steps for turning the political agreement reached in Paris into reality.
The challenges identified in the Paris Agreement are of unprecedented breadth and scale. We need enhanced cooperation and coordination between governments, civil society, the private sector and other key actors. Initiatives undertaken not only by countries but also by regions, cities and businesses under the Global Climate Action Agenda have the potential to transform the impact on the ground. Only together will we be able to live up to the level of ambition we have set ourselves – and the expectations of future generations. The world can continue to count on Europe for global leadership in the fight against climate change.