"The EU will not relent in its effort to implement the Paris Agreement"
There has been a lot of talks about the last COP23 meeting in Bonn. Regarding the Paris agreement, many issues remained unsaid. What are the main concerns for the European Union?
The last COP in Bonn was particularly difficult because it was the first meeting following President Donald Trump's announcement of his intention to abandon the Paris Agreement. However, it was also a good opportunity to confirm the commitment of the rest of the countries to the Agreement and their willingness to move forward with its implementation as soon as possible.
One of the major priorities of the European Union at present is the future meeting of the COP24 in Katowice. This conference, the third since the historic Paris Agreement was negotiated, will be of special importance, given that the parties will have to adopt the "Paris Rule Book", the rules of implementation of the Agreement and will try to reach a consensus regarding the foundership.
The second challenge is about climate finance. In this sense we have two important tasks to solve. On the one hand, we have the need to find the necessary financing for the budget hole left by the exit of the United States from the Green Climate Fund. The EU is studying ways to deal with this hole in the budget. The second task is an even greater challenge that the European Union cannot face on its own. It is about finding a way to finance the 100 billion euros needed by 2020 to help developing countries achieve the emissions reduction targets agreed in Paris. The EU is willing to lead the funding efforts but cannot face this challenge alone.
The departure of the United States from the Paris agreement is a great damage to the fight against climate change. What do you think about Trump’s decision? Can the European Union take over the leadership and push forward these global commitments without a giant like the US?
The Paris agreement was a great success for the international community, after several failed attempts to reach a global climate agreement. Paris was the result of many years of hard negotiations and hard work by countless people around the world. However, one thing is to adopt the agreement, another to implement it. The EU and the United States played a key role in intermediating the Paris agreement and, at least from the EU, we are fully committed to doing our part.
From the EU we deeply regret the withdrawal of the United States from the agreement. However, this decision has had a galvanizing effect on the rest of the world: countries around the world, large and small, have declared their firm commitment to remain in the agreement and to fulfill their objectives.
Although we deeply regret the decision of the United States, the European Union will not cease in its effort to implement the Paris Agreement. And for that, in recent months we have increased our diplomatic efforts with our international partners to advance negotiations and close an ambitious agreement at the COP24 in Katowice.
By 2020, the developed countries have committed to invest 100 billion euros in aid for developing countries. However, in Bonn, funding was the focus of intense discussions. Does the EU have a clear position in this regard? Will this commitment be fulfilled?
The position of the EU in this respect is clear and unanimous. The European Union will continue its efforts to obtain financing of 100 billion euros by 2020. In this regard, both the Union and the Member States have substantially increased public funding for climate in recent years, from 9.6 billion euros in 2013 to 20.2 billion in 2016, which accounts for half of global climate finance. In addition, the EU is the largest contributor to the Green Climate Fund with a total of 4,700 million euros.
The European Union has presented an action plan to boost the role of finance in supporting the EU program on climate and sustainable development, outlining specific actions that cover all relevant actors in the financial system. The planned actions could also be applied by other countries. However, it is essential to remove barriers and improve the conditions to attract private investment to sustainable development, as well as to integrate environmental concerns into decision-making processes in developing countries.
Three years after the encyclical Laudato Si’ by Pope Francis, on the care of the planet, what are the commitments that the Catholic Church should take?
The reflections of his Holiness contributed enormously to create the necessary impulse to face climate change. His Encyclical Laudato Si’ has been a key element to mobilize the world population to take climate action seriously and get down to work.
It is an undeniable fact that climate change is one of the most important challenges facing our societies in the 21st century. For this reason, I would like to remind here one of the reflections of His Holiness Pope Francis when he pointed out that: "Climate is a common good, of all and for all." This thought brilliantly summarizes the responsibility that each one of us has, since only by joining our efforts we can implement effective climate action policies.
Europe is a good example in this exercise. Our unity and solidarity has led us to the forefront of the fight against climate change. His Holiness Pope Francis encouraged the countries of the world to present policies to reduce emissions. Europe is already ahead of many in this effort. We started working on this long before the historic Paris Agreement to fulfill our commitment to reduce EU emissions by at least 40% by 2030.
The role of the Catholic Church can once again be decisive in making an appeal to the world once again to seek dialogue and agreement to achieve, in the words of His Holiness, "a world with a common plan."
The interview was conducted by Jaime Camacho García
The views expressed in europeinfos are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the position of COMECE and the Jesuit European Social Centre.