The OpEd from Ambassador HE Carl Hartzell, the new Head of Delegation of the European Union to Georgia.
A crucial year for fighting climate change: The EU steps up international cooperation on Paris Agreement implementation
Thursday, September 27
The scale of the climate challenges we face today and in the future is clear. The adverse effects of climate change are already being felt around the world and pose a great threat to our planet and its people.
The Paris Agreement on climate change – the landmark global agreement adopted by almost 200 countries in 2015 – sets out an action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change. It has set the direction of travel for the global transition to low-emission, climate-resilient economies and societies.
However, we already know that the emissions reduction targets put forward by countries in Paris will not be enough to reach our common objective of limiting global warming to well below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels, let alone 1.5°C. The upcoming special report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will unfortunately show that the window to stay within these limits is closing very fast. This is why we must continue to raise our collective ambition and speed up the implementation and operationalisation of the Paris Agreement.
This year, governments and stakeholders from around the world are getting together to assess how far we have come since Paris and to look at solutions and possibilities to enhance action under the ‘Talanoa Dialogue’. Taking place throughout 2018, this facilitation process is the first opportunity since Paris to look comprehensively at our collective efforts so far, as well as at opportunities to increase global ambition.
The EU sees the Talanoa Dialogue as a key moment. A meaningful political outcome of the Talanoa discussions should be a commitment by all governments to reflect on their level of ambition in light of 1.5C and to accelerate the pace of collective action. The EU organized an ‘EU for Talanoa’ event in Brussels on 13 June 2018, with broad participation of policymakers and stakeholders. The event confirmed that our stakeholders' community is equally committed towards looking into the long term perspective.
Another important deliverable for the international community this year is adopting the Paris Agreement work programme. Adopting this “rulebook” at the next UN climate conference (COP24) in December in Katowice, Poland, is vital. A clear and comprehensive set of transparency rules will enable us to track and demonstrate progress being made around the world and give all sides – developed and developing countries alike – a shared framework to deliver on our shared vision.
The EU is well-advanced in putting in place its domestic legislative framework for delivering its target of cutting domestic greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. This includes, for example, revising the EU emissions trading system for the period after 2020, setting national emissions reduction targets for sectors not covered by emissions trading, and integrating land use in our climate legislation. These key pieces of legislation were all recently adopted, and further proposals on clean energy and mobility are underway. Initial calculations indicate that with the agreed legislation fully implemented, the EU will be in the position to report reductions quite a bit higher than 40%.
In parallel, we are looking beyond 2030. In March 2018, EU leaders asked the European Commission to present, within 12 months, a proposal for a strategy for long-term EU greenhouse gas emissions reduction, following a similar request from the European Parliament. It will provide a clear vision of how to have a truly decarbonised economy and will give a clear direction of travel to ensure we have the right investments in place. The Commission is determined to involve all stakeholders in drafting this vision and will make its proposal ahead of COP24 to provide a solid foundation for an EU-wide debate.
Simultaneously, the EU is stepping up international cooperation and support to partners outside the EU, for example through policy dialogues, capacity-building projects and climate finance.
While the EU has more than two decades of experience in developing and implementing ambitious climate policies, we know that many of our partners, including Georgia, are doing so for the first time. We stand ready to share our experiences and lessons learned.
Georgia is already a partner when it comes to pursuing climate related goals. We are also encouraged by the Government's commitment to fostering sustainable economic growth and are ready to support Georgia's transition to a low-carbon climate-resilient economy. Our assistance will next focus primarily on energy efficiency and sustainable management of natural resources, as well as to support the implementation of commitments stemming from the Association Agreement, the Energy Community Treaty and the Paris Agreement.
In addition to our current projects focused on the limitation of industrial pollution, improvement of waste management, and sustainable management of forests, the EU will also soon launch a new regional EU4Climate project. This project will support the development and implementation of climate-related policies in Georgia, which will contribute to low-emission and climate-resilient development and to meeting Georgia's Paris commitments.
While the Paris Agreement sets the direction of travel, the journey has only just begun. Going forward, all countries will need to the foster the right political environment to allow this transformation to continue, supporting a long-term structural change in energy systems worldwide and shifting and scaling up investments that contribute to it.
Concluding the Paris Rulebook and Talanoa at COP24 would be important stepping-stones towards delivering the Paris commitments and providing evidence to the broader public about our collective progress to address climate change.
Low-emission and climate-resilient growth is possible for countries at all levels of income and brings multiple and tangible benefits for the wellbeing and health of people, the economy and the environment. The EU is committed to work with Georgia and its other global partners to continue this journey together!