EU launches Climate Diplomacy Week
Last December, 195 countries gathered in Paris to negotiate a new global climate agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The result – the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate deal – sets out a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2oC. To further underline their determination, countries also agreed to pursue efforts to limit the increase in temperature to 1,5oC. Now, ten months on from that historic outcome, the European Union (EU) remains proud of the ambitious Paris Agreement and the Maldives should be too. But there is no room for complacency after the success of the Paris Conference; for the vision of a global low emissions future to materialise, our attention needs to turn to putting our words into action.
Already this year, we have seen encouraging signs that our partners around the world are keen to maintain the unprecedented political momentum in support of climate action. More than 180 countries have now signed the Paris Agreement and 22 have completed their domestic ratification procedures and become Parties to the Agreement. We congratulate the Maldives on the leadership shown in being one of the first countries to ratify.
Ratification is an important step towards implementation of the Paris Agreement, but ratifying the agreement on its own will not deliver the necessary greenhouse gas reductions, adaptation action and financing. Equally important are the steps countries will take to meet the commitments made in Paris, starting with the policy and legislative frameworks required to develop robust national climate plans and international approaches.
The EU and its Member States are taking concrete implementation very seriously. We are moving forward with our ambitious domestic climate policies, with new proposals that will help us meet our emissions reduction target of at least 40% by 2030 and further drive the transition to a low-carbon economy. We hear and understand concerns that taking action against climate change can affect economic growth. But we have found that the opposite is true: our emissions have decreased by 23% since 1990, while GDP has grown by 46% in the same period. During these years we have created new jobs, businesses, technologies and competitive advantages that prepare us better for the new climate compatible economy.
The EU has more than two decades of experience in developing and implementing ambitious climate policy, but we know that many of our partners are doing so for the first time. We stand ready to share our experience and lessons learned for the benefit of others – in fact we already have extensive climate policy co-operation with some of our key partners. We are committed to supporting the Maldives and other climate-vulnerable nations to develop national climate plans and make the transition to low-carbon climate-resilient economies.
Signifying the strong and growing relationship the EU has with the Maldives on climate change, the EU has contributed EUR 10.5 million to the Climate Change Trust Fund (CCTF) in the Maldives. The project, which is implemented by the Ministry of Environment and Energy, is helping some of communities that are most vulnerable to climate change.
As well as developing long-term climate strategies, there are actions we all need to take now. In just a few months, countries will gather in Marrakech to start to add the technical detail to the breakthrough political agreement in Paris. Building capacity to act, addressing loss and damage associated with climate change and setting out a roadmap to reach climate finance targets are just some of the issues on the table. Before then, countries will also aim to reach multilateral agreements on limiting aviation emissions and phasing out highly climate warming gasses used in refrigeration and air conditioning.
And it is not just governments taking action. Businesses, cities and civil society all have a crucial role to play in delivering the action on the ground that will really make a difference. The CCTF has helped the conservation of coral reefs and wetlands which are of important not only in terms of bio-diversity, but also due to the economic impact on communities in Hithadhoo in terms of eco-tourism, food production and fresh water supply. A pilot renewable energy project has been successfully completed in Thinadhoo and has had far reaching benefits, enabling communities’ to move away from the use of harmful fossil fuels, such as diesel, to sustainable and renewable alternatives, such as solar. The project has also aided communities to find sustainable solutions to persistent problems, such as solid waste management. Such has been the success of the project that it has now helped, the Government attract funding from the others, including the World Bank and the ADB. CCTF has now started a second phase that is working with the local population in the atolls of Addu and Fuvahmullah to alleviate the challenges they face.
Paris was a defining moment in the safeguarding of the planet for future generations. We must maintain that momentum in the months and years ahead, because the prize is worth it: lower emissions, greater energy security and energy efficiency, innovation-driven growth. There is lots of work to do, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with the Maldives to address this defining issue.
Paul Godfrey, Chargé d’Affaires, Delegation of the European Union to Sri Lanka and the Maldives,
Jean-Marin Schuh, Ambassador, Embassy of France to Sri Lanka and the Maldives
Joanne Doornewaard, Ambassador, Netherlands Embassy in Sri Lanka and the Maldives
James Dauris, High Commissioner, British High Commission to Sri Lanka and the Maldives
Michael Dohmen, Deputy Head of Mission, German Mission to Sri Lanka and the Maldives
Paolo Andrea Bartorelli, Ambassador, Embassy of Italy to Sri Lanka and the Maldives