COP23: It's time for Europe to lead by example

Written by Adina-Ioana Vălean on 6 November 2017 in Opinion
Opinion

COP23 is more than just an opportunity for the EU to show climate leadership, says Adina-Ioana Vălean.

Adina-Ioana Vălean | Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual


Parliament will soon head to Bonn on an official mission to COP 23. This delegation, which I will lead as the Chair of the environment, public health and food safety committee, will participate in the negotiations and contribute to the solutions for designing the facilitative dialogue and securing more climate finance.

Stakeholders and the public are very eager to grasp what will actually be decided in Bonn and what the EU will do in order to achieve its objectives in this changing global landscape. 

Their expectations are legitimate given the climate of uncertainty regarding the future of COP and the level of involvement of certain parties. Europe has continued to deplore the unfortunate decision by the US to pull out of the Paris agreement.


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The environment committee - and Parliament as a whole - have voiced their regret through the joint declaration that President Antonio Tajani and I issued on the day of the US announcement.

I believe that it is ‘time up’ for regrets. We now need to focus on what we want for Europe and on how we want to build a fully sustainable world economy. The US decision has had a significant impact, but it is one that still needs years before it will produce any legal effects. 

Our job as Europeans is not to substitute the ambition of any global actor, but to find ways to fulfil our goals and convince others that our strategies, policies and standards are worth following.

Leading by example means leading by demonstrating success. This needs to be our mantra from now on if we want to our actions to followed by as many parties as possible in shaping a truly integrated global mechanism against climate change. 

For this, I am very proud that the environment committee is contributing with a wide and consistent package of legislation, including the emissions trading scheme, the land use change and forestry emissions regulation, and the effort-sharing regulation, as well as the clean energy package. 

The core philosophy of all this legislation is to lower emissions while maintaining the competitiveness of the EU’s industry at home and abroad.

If we create laws to lower emissions, we should stop subsidising heavily polluting fossil fuels, such as coal, and just let them compete in the free market. The industry needs clarity when they decide where they wish to invest, therefore we need to put our policies where our mouth is.

This COP will however be more than an opportunity to show leadership in terms of legislation. We also have to devote our efforts to reaching an agreement on the design of the facilitative dialogue, now called the Talanoa dialogue. 

It is our aim to make this tool fully functional before COP24 and focus it towards a direct exchange of planning and updates of all parties’ nationally determined contributions (NDCs).

Moreover, we also want to open up this dialogue mechanism to non-party stakeholders such as businesses and cities, as it is they that will actually bear the greatest burden of lowering emissions over the years.

This brings us to our third main topic in COP23: reinforcing climate finance. The transition to a low emitting global economy faces significant hurdles in developing countries. That is why developed countries have agreed to jointly allocate $100bn per year by 2020 to address those needs.

The EU continues to be the world’s leading climate finance donor with over $20.2bn allocated in 2016 alone. Nevertheless, we are still falling short of reaching the $100bn total. 

Therefore, we have chosen to tailor our side event around the increased role of non-state actors in closing this financing gap. 

We will be talking to the EIB, the Green Climate Fund and the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy about creating a market-based environment around climate finance, in order to attract private financial resources.

In this context, there is a great deal of discussion about the impact of the US withdrawal on climate finance, since they had pledged to contribute with $3bn to this fund. We must not forget that the US remains, to date, the single largest contributor with $1bn paid before announcing their withdrawal.

This context should make us even more determined to ensure pledges made in Paris by EU member states will be fulfilled. Keeping our promises is the only way to maintain the credibility of the $100bn initiative and attract international financial institutions and private investors such as pensions and insurance funds.

With all this in mind, I invite interested stakeholders to visit the EU Pavilion in Bonn to follow our press points we will be having throughout our mission and, of course, to attend our side event.

 

About the author

Adina-Ioana Vălean (EPP, RO) is Chair of Parliament’s environment, public health and food safety committee

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