International Partnerships

Climate Action

The 13th Sustainable Development Goal (SDG13) aims at addressing the global and urgent challenge of climate change, notably by making sure that all countries of the world:

  • strengthen their resilience and adaptation to climate change, with extra attention to the small island developing States (SIDS) and least developed countries (LDCs), as well as the communities most vulnerable to and affected by climate change
  • mainstream climate change in global and national policies, strategies, and planning to ensure coherent, efficient, and quick actions
  • raise awareness and educate people about the climate challenge and actions to take

Climate change is affecting us all, no country is immune. It is disrupting economies and impacting people’s lives. Sea levels are rising, weather patterns and temperatures are changing, , and the number of climate-related natural hazards seem to be more frequent and more severe. According to the UN, if we do not address climate change, the average global temperatures could rise beyond 3°C. Between 1901 and 2010, the global average sea level rose by 19 cm. The Artic Sea ice is shrinking by 1.07 million km 2 every decade. Global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) have increased by almost 50% since 1990.

Achieving SDG13 is one of our priorities because climate change is a defining issue of our time and climate action is essential to sustainable development. The EU has been at the forefront of international efforts to fight climate change and we are the biggest supporter of our partner countries’ efforts to address climate change.

Our international commitment

The EU has been a leading force towards the adoption of the Paris Agreement at the COP21 conference in 2015.

By ratifying the Paris Agreement (2016), 185 countries have so far committed to:

  • keep the global temperature rise below 2°C above pre-industrial levels
  • pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5°C

In their nationally determined contributions (NDCs), countries which signed the Paris Agreement are asked to spell out the actions they intend to take to:

  • reduce greenhouse gas emissions (mitigation efforts)
  • increase their resilience to climate change (adaptation efforts)

The Paris Agreement work programme, agreed on at the COP24 conference in 2018, will enter into force in 2020 and facilitate the operationalisation of the Paris Agreement. All countries need to follow common rules and track their progress as regards their NDCs and the support they provide or receive, with a bit more flexibility foreseen for SIDS and LDCs.

As of January 2019, 181 countries have submitted their NDCs. However, current NDCs won’t suffice to meet the 2°C target of the Paris Agreement, as shown by the IPCC special report ‘Global warming of 1.5°C’. We therefore need to urgently step up mitigation actions, while strengthening adaptation actions in the most vulnerable countries.

The Paris Agreement and the UN 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development are mutually reinforcing: each is key to implement the other. There can be no sustainable development without climate action, and vice-versa. Both call for a cross-sectoral approach, which is why NDCs foresee parallel actions in energy, agriculture, transport, industry, urban development, forestry, natural resources management etc., reaching through a wide range of SDGs, not just SDG13.

Our action

The EU’s domestic commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions is reflected in its external action.

We help our partner countries transition to a low-carbon sustainable development, notably by:

  • providing them technical assistance to formulate and implement their NDCs, notably through the Global climate change alliance plus (GCCA+) initiative which covers actions in more than 60 partner countries and already contributed to the implementation of over 50 national climate change strategies
  • funding dedicated projects in our partner countries, mainly under the Neighbourhood, Development, and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI)
  • de-risking investments in the renewable energy sector through innovative financial tools, such as the Electrification Financing Initiative (ElectriFI)
  • helping them mainstream climate change and environmental considerations in their policies, strategies, and actions in other sectors

Our investment in climate

In 2014-2017, the EU has allocated 20% of its budget to climate action and this share is likely to reach at least 25% as of 2021, which confirms the growing importance of climate action in the EU agenda.

As regards development cooperation, the share of climate-related spending grew from 10.3% of total commitments in 2014 to 25.5% in 2017. After a step back in 2018, we plan to increase our climate-related spending again in 2019-2020.

However, public funding alone cannot solve climate change. According to an OECD study, developed countries’ public funding will not meet the global objective of mobilising $100 billion/year in climate finance by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries. The private sector will therefore need to be increasingly involved, notably via the External Investment Plan (EIP).