Connie Hedegaard: "We can bail out banks. We can bail out states. But no one can bail out the climate, if we don't get our act together."
At today's opening of the High Level Segment of the Doha climate change conference, Commissioner Hedegaard and Minister Sofoklis Aletraris (Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment, Cyprus) spoke on behalf of the European Union, urging all countries to move forward together to combat climate change.
Statement by Connie Hedegaard and Sofoclis Aletraris on behalf of the EU, its 27 Member States, and Croatia at COP18, Doha
Moving forward together
(Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action)
Mr. President, Ministers, ladies and gentlemen!
As we meet here in Doha, the world around us echoes with alarm and despair. Alarm over the pace of change in the nature around us. Despair over the lack of pace when it comes to agreeing on a global political solution.
We all know that we cannot solve everything here in Doha. But ladies and gentlemen, let us show the world that Doha, too, can deliver new steps forward! Let us show the world a reinforced resolve to move forward together!
The European Union wants this to be the COP where we cross the bridge from the old system with two tracks to a new system with one track.
A new system where all nations commit and contribute. Consistent with the convention. Yet dynamic enough to reflect the world in the decades ahead of us.
By the end of this COP, we should have arrived on the other side of the bridge, which Europe and a few other nations have secured by committing to a ratifiable second period under the Kyoto Protocol with immediate application.
And we should have clear progress on how to accelerate reductions beyond current commitments before 2020. The ambition gap is not closing. It is widening. That is already clear today.
Ladies and Gentlemen, patience is not my middle name. And we ARE running out of time. My plea to you is this: Let us not get caught up with formality. Let us deal with reality!
The reality is that we need to speed up to keep below the two degrees.
The reality is that we can take new steps today in international co-operation initiatives on energy efficiency, renewables, HFC gases and phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies.
The reality is also that Europe has delivered. We have delivered on finance in spite of historic hardship. We have made unmatched emission reductions. We have ambitious, comprehensive legislation. And, let me stress, legislation that will take us beyond our 20% reduction target by 2020.
The reality is major countries with no obligations emit as much – or even more – than European countries. And the sad reality is that only if these countries commit, will we have a chance to tackle the challenge.
Europe wants a new regime to be inclusive and equitable. For us, this means shouldering climate action in line with responsibilities and capabilities; it means promoting opportunity and choice; it means supporting action. And it means solidarity with the vulnerable who will be affected by loss and damage.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we don't need more torrential floods, more storms and devastating droughts to tell us that time is running out.
Honestly: We do not have to wait for more reports to do the right thing. What we need now is progress. Progress on our common journey to a world with a stable climate and equitable access to sustainable development.
Our people expect it.
Our economies need it.
Our planet craves it.
Remember: we can bail out banks. We can bail out states. But no one can bail out the climate, if we don't get our act together.
(Sofoclis Aletraris, Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment, Cyprus)
The European Union is here in Doha to confirm that we have delivered on our commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, and to make the first delivery on the promises that we have made in Copenhagen, Cancun and in Durban.
By the end of this conference we intend:
- To join with others in adopting a ratifiable second commitment period to the Kyoto Protocol;
- To join with others in making substantial contributions to the successful completion of the Bali Roadmap; to deliver on fast start finance and signal our clear intention to continue to invest more in order to scale up domestic action in developing countries;
- To begin to build new partnerships with others to take more ambitious action and accelerate emission reductions beyond our Kyoto targets between now and 2020;
- To provide our full support to the launch of negotiations for a new, legally binding agreement, applicable to all and designed to keep global warming below two degrees.
In Europe we have always believed that ambition must begin at home. Recently, we passed the 100 GW milestone for wind deployment and 70% of new installed power capacity in Europe in 2011 was zero-carbon.
And in addition to the 20% reduction on emissions that will bind us under national, regional and international law, Europe will continue to prepare, implement and press for bold, new steps toward a low carbon economy.
Recently agreed measures promise to accelerate reductions beyond our current targets through energy efficiency, new rules to reduce indirect land-use change from biofuels, ambitious standards for cars and vans and a new proposal to dramatically cut HFCs and other F-gases.
Let me conclude by focusing on one of the toughest challenges facing our work together. Ensuring equitable access to sustainable development means that we must protect the climate system while ensuring equitable access of all the world's citizens to clean and affordable water, to clean air, energy, transport and to food and shelter.
We know we share this vision with those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. This process must be able to demonstrate that this vision is shared by the most powerful as well.
Only in this way can we move forward – fast, far, and together.