EU Foreign Ministers call for strengthened climate fight

EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET

(L-R) Foreign Ministers of Spain, Josep Borrel, Luxembourg’s Jean Asselborn, and France’s Jean-Yves Le Drian chat during an European Foreign Affairs Council meeting, in Brussels, Belgium, February 18, 2019.

European Council warns action to stem climate change remains insufficient.


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The European Council on February 18 adopted conclusions on climate diplomacy after the EU’s foreign affairs ministers welcomed the Commission’s strategic long-term vision for a climate neutral Europe.

The ministers also called for urgent and decisive action to strengthen the global response on climate change and restated the EU’s determination to lead the way on accelerated climate action on all fronts.

Acknowledging “the direct and existential threat” of climate change and reaffirming its steadfast commitment to the Paris Agreement, the Council warned, “action to stem it remains insufficient.” The Council then recalled, “2019 is a critical year for accelerating domestic climate action and raising global ambition in the context of the pursuit of sustainable development, with leadership from the United Nations.”

EU Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete said COP24 was a success for multilateralism, with the milestone agreement on common rules for all countries to put the Paris Agreement into practice. “Now we should all move focus to accelerate the implementation of our commitments and raising ambition. I am particularly glad that EU foreign affairs chiefs have endorsed the Commission´s climate neutral strategy. This sends a strong signal to all global stakeholders on the need to urgently accelerate the move towards a climate-neutral economy,” Cañete said.

In its conclusions, the Foreign Affairs Council stressed the severe implications that climate change poses to international security and stability, recognising that climate change acts as a threat multiplier and increasingly as a threat in its own right. The impacts will spare no country, and the poorest and most vulnerable will be the most affected.

In July, the annual United Nations High-Level Political Forum will provide the impetus for countries to show progress on the implementation of the sustainable development goals, including goal 13 on climate action.

The EU also calls on all partners to join in making a substantive and positive contribution to the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit in September, which aims to mobilise the political will to raise global climate ambition and move towards a climate-neutral economy.

In this context, EU Foreign Affairs Ministers welcomed the European Commission’s strategic long-term vision for a climate-neutral Europe by 2050, published on November 28, 2018. According to the Commission, they also underlined the need for the EU’s international partners, in particular, G20 economies, which account for some 80% of global emissions, to show leadership and come forward with their own ambitious long-term strategies in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

In reaction to the ministers’ public debate, Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, noted that there is a growing awareness among Europe’s political and business leaders that the much-needed shift to a net zero emission economy is an opportunity to strengthen Europe’s competitiveness. “Reducing emissions to net zero, preferably by 2040, and scaling up emission cuts by 2030, will help the European industry to become a leader in an increasingly important global market that will trigger massive investments in the coming decades,” Trio said.

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