Europe must keep up climate momentum, says Minister

European Union/Environment Council/COP21 – Communiqué issued by Ministry of the Environment, Energy and Marine Affairs

Paris, 4 March 2016

The European Union played a fundamental role in achieving COP21’s ambitious result. It was able to build alliances and speak with one voice. We must now keep up the momentum of ambition in the crucial phase of implementing the Paris results.

As President of COP21, I would like to thank you once again and pass on four messages – the four proofs of success.

1/ Making the signature and ratification of the Paris Agreement a reality

The first sign of our credibility and success will be the signature ceremony in New York on 22 April, on the invitation of Ban Ki-moon, who has invited all heads of state and government and has high expectations when it comes to Europe mobilizing.

For France, I have initiated the national ratification procedure and I shall present the bill to the Council of Ministers on Wednesday 9 March, with the aim of completing our procedures this summer. It would be a fine symbol for all the ratification procedures to be initiated in March, in order to announce it in New York, because we shall have to be in a position to present, all together and as soon as possible, our instruments of ratification jointly with that of the European Union.

Europe was strong and ambitious at the COP. We must maintain this trend and signal political will.

2/ Taking effective decisions without delay

We must take action at European level and in each country to apply the decisions of the European Council of October 2014. The international community included in the Paris Agreement the goal of limiting the temperature rise to 1.5ºC. So our actions must be in line with that goal. The revision of the [EU] ETS Directive must take this into account. We have pledged to carry out a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of “at least 40%”.

The European Council of 17 and 18 March has COP21 on its agenda. The French President will be spurring his counterparts into action. Civil society and the partner countries are expecting European leadership on the climate ambition, and a clear indication about the timetable for adoption of the Paris Agreement. Europe, which is undergoing many ordeals, has an opportunity on the climate issue to show its strength and unity. It is all the more motivating because we now know that what is good for the climate is good for businesses and employment.

I thank the Commission for having already put its proposal for reform of the carbon market (ETS) on the table, and the Dutch presidency for having started negotiations without delay. The Commission must present, as quickly as possible, all the other proposals on our emissions reduction efforts, not only in sectors outside the carbon market (construction, transport, agriculture) but also in relation to energy union (renewable energy directives, energy efficiency, buildings’ energy performance etc.). In all these areas, evidence-based policies are expected from Europe.

Europe must take action to bring to a conclusion the negotiations at the IMO and the ICAO on maritime and air transport emissions. The work on HFC refrigerant gases, in the framework of the Montreal Protocol, will also have to move forward.

3/ Putting Europe at the forefront of the carbon pricing coalition launched at COP21

In New York on 22 April, as has been my wish as COP President, the World Bank will convene the high-level Carbon Pricing Panel.

At European level, proposals are on the table – particularly the creation of a European carbon price band – to encourage low-carbon industrial investments and reduce the cost of supporting renewable energy. We must also combat business relocations and, along with them, emissions (carbon leakage), while ensuring that free quotas are reserved for the most highly-rated and the most exposed sectors.

4/ Strengthening the Lima-Paris Action Agenda

In New York, the focus will not be on the Paris Agreement alone. Europe will again have to show it is a driving force for the Lima-Paris Action Agenda. Seventy coalitions were created at the Paris Conference, bringing together countries, cities and regions, businesses, NGOs and citizens. These coalitions are grouped together around 12 Action Day themes. I’d like the afternoon of 22 April to be an action day: water, forests, agriculture, renewable energy, resilience, oceans, buildings, transport, sustainable cities, carbon pricing, and the research and innovation coalition.

With €15 billion last year, Europe is the world’s main provider of climate finance. There are high expectations that we will continue this commitment. Our development assistance has a leading role to play, particularly to support vulnerable countries and help implement the INDCs. We have a duty to ensure the climate and the SDGs are interlinked. I am thinking in particular of Africa and the Renewable Energy Initiative, which is one of my priorities as COP President, because taking action for climate justice also means taking action for stability, by reducing climate migration thanks to access to development and to food and health security.

We must support the deployment of renewable energy for Africa – I have just come back from there – in order to realize the financial commitments made in Paris for the 10 gigawatts of additional renewable energy in 2020, just like the drive on water, a priority for Morocco in 2016. We must also strengthen our support for innovation, as several of us pledged at the COP, and the release of private finance.

Some areas, like energy efficiency, deserve to be handled better. The EU should be the leader on this issue and encourage – including financially – coalitions that propose concrete action in terms of building, electrical devices, lighting and heat networks.

Lastly, some areas are not yet covered: I am thinking of waste and the circular economy, and public mobilization – areas where Europe is ahead. Finally, it is essential to continue encouraging all businesses, banks and regions to commit to climate action./.

Published on 26/10/2016

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