"Check against delivery"
Speech by Commissioner Arias Cañete at the Plenary Session of the European Parliament on 25 November 2019
Dear President, Honourable Members, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this timely and topical debate on the pressing issue of climate and environmental emergency, while we look ahead to preparations for the upcoming 25th Conference of the Parties to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in Madrid, led by the Government of Chile.
Climate change and the environment are a top priority for our citizens, and in particular for our young people. Science is clear: each year matters - each choice matters – each half a degree matters.
There is utmost urgency to act. Fires have raged from the Amazon to Siberia, heat waves, droughts and cyclones are affecting billions of people throughout the world. Climate change and the biodiversity loss are already now affecting critical life systems on earth, threatening livelihood of many.
Together with you, we have put in place a comprehensive climate and energy framework and have delivered on our objectives in the Circular Economy Action Plan. But we need to do more.
We need much, much stronger action, as science and as our youth, keep reminding us.
The European Union is strongly committed to continue an ambitious and urgent action to effectively address the interdependent environmental and climate crisis in an integrated manner - globally. This is essential for sustainable development, poverty eradication and delivering on all of the Sustainable Development Goals.
On the environment side, we need to engage all partners in bringing about the “transformative change” that is necessary for our planet’s survival. We must make 2020 a landmark year for climate, nature and ecosystems, including through an ambitious post-2020 global biodiversity framework to be adopted at the Conference of the Parties under the Convention for Biological Diversity in Kunming, China.
On climate, we must continue our efforts and accelerate our action in the European Union and globally.
Four years ago, the international community celebrated the Paris Agreement as a game changer. And last year we agreed on the Katowice Rulebook – the first ever universal transparency and accountability system applicable to all, with in-built flexibilities for those who genuinely need it.
Both Paris and Katowice are landmarks for multilateralism and a true testament of global resolve and solidarity.
Looking ahead to Madrid, completing the work on making the Paris Agreement work well in practice, must be our first collective objective.
In this regard, a key topic for COP25 is the single element of the Rulebook left outstanding in Katowice: the guidance on voluntary cooperation and market-based mechanisms under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement.
Securing a meaningful outcome for market measures under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement is important for the European Union. If we do it right. Compromises that put environmental integrity at risk are not acceptable to us.
The decisions we take at COP25 must prevent the double counting of emissions reductions. To achieve this the rules must account comprehensively for all uses of international carbon markets.
The decisions we take in Madrid should also create strong incentives to reduce emissions now and in the future. This means avoiding the use of past emissions reductions to undermine current and future ambition.
The new mechanism under Article 6.4 should avoid the weaknesses of the Kyoto Protocol Mechanisms.
Second, our other substantive priority for COP25 is the successful review of the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage: to stimulate practical ideas that help people on the ground to take effective action to avert, minimise and address loss and damage, particularly for vulnerable communities in their specific situations.
Third, the European Union attaches great importance to stakeholder engagement in COP25, particularly on Oceans. The Chilean Presidency has made this a top priority for this “Blue COP”.
But in Madrid we must begin looking at the bigger picture, and how we – and all other parties to the Paris Agreement – respond to the increasing request from citizens everywhere in the world for more – and more decisive – action.
We believe that in Madrid we must continue to incentivise, support and accelerate action from all actors towards the objectives of the Paris Agreement. The European Union will continue to do its homework on this and will continue to lead by example.
Next year we will update our nationally determined contribution, to make it clear that the full implementation of our legislative framework will effectively enable us to overreach the current commitment of “at least 40%” and is estimated to reach around 45% reductions by 2030.
Yet this is not the whole story. We will make clear that the European Union is irrevocably committed to a path that will lead to do our full part under the Paris Agreement, and will offer others an effective model to do their part. The European Union will be at their side, offering a full cooperation of support.
European Union leaders have committed to finalising their guidance on the objective of climate neutrality by the end of the year in good time for the long-term strategy to be submitted to the UNFCCC in early 2020. The objective remains to create a modern, competitive, prosperous and climate neutral society by 2050.
At the same time, the demands of our citizens have spurred the European Institutions to look again at what we need to do already in the 2030 perspective.
The next European Commission has already announced that it will work in earnest to raise the European Union ambition higher than 40% or 45% greenhouse gas emission reductions by 2030.
For the European Union this is a continuous process, that can only stop when the objectives of the Paris Agreement are fully reached.
Our efforts in this direction will continue well beyond our borders. The European Union and its Member States remain the largest contributor of public climate finance to developing countries, including to the multilateral climate funds, and have contributed EUR 21.7 billion in climate finance for 2018. This is double the level of 2013.
Yet we all know that public finance alone will be insufficient to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. Therefore, it is crucial to make swift and ambitious progress to make all finance flows consistent with the Paris Agreement. To this end, following its Action Plan on Financing Sustainable Growth, the Commission launched in October the International Platform for Sustainable Finance in order to deepen international cooperation and, where appropriate, coordination on sustainability approaches and initiatives for the capital markets.
At the same time, we will continue to mainstream climate policies in all our international relations and in our development cooperation. We will continue to persuade others to follow the path of climate neutrality as soon as possible in the 2nd half of this century, as science incites all of us to do, and we will offer all our partners dialogue, cooperation and support in doing so.
Let me conclude by saying that we should all offer our strong support to the Chilean COP25 Presidency with a view to a successful outcome in Madrid.
At the end of this session, let me take the opportunity to thank you for your exceptional collaboration over the last years. It has been an honour to serve in the Juncker Commission, and a special privilege to work with such dedicated parliamentarians here in the European Parliament. I am at the same time humbled by all that we have achieved in these past five years, and proud of the leadership that the European Union and its Institutions have shown, at home and abroad, and in multilateral fora.
Together we have achieved historic milestones. From the adoption and ratification of the Paris Agreement, through to the conclusion of a comprehensive legal framework on climate and energy in the form of the 2030 legislation and the Clean Energy Package. All that with exceptional political consensus and support in both the European Parliament and in the Council of Ministers. This is exactly the European Union at its best, an excellent example of the European Union added value for our citizens.
What we have achieved puts in place a solid foundation for the next decades; to enable us to go further and faster, as demanded by our European citizens.
Because all we have done is alone, it’s not enough. And again, Europe and its Institutions must take the lead in going forward.
I will remain your strongest supporter as you embark on this important task in the years ahead.