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Andris Piebalgs

European Commissioner for Development

Climate change and access to Energy: a priority for EU development policy

Informal Ministerial Roundtable on Climate Change

Brussels, 08 May 2012

Ministers, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,


I am delighted to see that this discussion has brought together so many decision-makers from around the world. It bodes well for our potential to work together in order to follow our commitment to sustainability issues through with real action.

What we have done

You already know that the EU is a strong supporter of climate action in developing countries. Since 2002 the EU has steadily increased climate finance for developing countries. Between 2002 and 2010 the Commission alone provided 3.3 billion euro for climate-relevant projects through traditional official development assistance.

As always, we want to make sure the funding we provide is as targeted, policy-coherent and results-oriented as possible. That is why, to ensure that our funding really delivers, we have adopted a two-pronged approach.

On the one hand, we have brought climate change considerations into regular EU development aid. The EU has developed a set of guidelines and tools for this, which we have shared with our partners though regular capacity-building events and workshops.

On the other, we are also supporting specific climate-related actions. One such initiative of which we are proud to be a part is the Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA).

Another example is the support we are providing to the Pacific region. EU-Pacific cooperation on climate change has grown since the 2008 Joint EU-Pacific Islands Forum Declaration and the 2010 Joint Initiative. By 2012, all Pacific ACP countries will have benefited from additional EU funding for climate change, notably with 38.3 million euro from the EU’s Global Climate Change Alliance, on top of the regular 2008-2013 EDF allocations.

In addition, we are working with Pacific partners on a further financial package to support a "Joint Plan of Action on climate change" focusing on three crucial areas: disaster risk reduction; renewable energy and energy efficiency; and community resilience to climate change.

Finally over the last two years the EU has set up specific climate-change "windows" in all its regional investment facilities. These "windows" cover public and private investments and allow transparent tracking of climate change projects in strategic areas like transport, energy, environment, water, sanitation, forests and support for the private sector, mainly SMEs.

These windows will also facilitate the blending of grants and loans to reduce interest rates and leverage investments in climate-relevant infrastructures such as energy and transport. Blending is an area in which we work hand in hand with the EIB, European development banks and other international finance institutions, and which we see as a promising avenue to pursue going forward.

In the EU’s regional investment facilities 760 million euro in EU grants have been committed to projects supporting EU development policy objectives. EU grant contributions have leveraged around 10 billion euro in loans by European Finance Institutions, unlocking total project financing of at least 26 billion euro. More than 50 percent of EU grant contributions in the facilities support climate change-related projects.

Between now and the end of 2013 about 1 billion euro in additional grants open to climate financing should become available via the facilities.

The future

Climate change, green economy and sustainability are at the core of our new blueprint to guide our development policy, our so-called Agenda for Change. Sustainability is a recurring theme in the Agenda for Change and will help us set about meeting the challenges we face as we seek to make EU development cooperation deliver more and better results. In the Agenda for Change we have identified two areas for intensified cooperation, because of the challenge they represent for developing countries, but also because of their potential as catalysts for sustainable growth. Moreover, both areas have implications for climate change.

The first area is agriculture. Agriculture can be deeply affected by climate change; this represents an additional challenge for our partners, not only in terms of food and nutrition security but also as regards efficient management of precious natural resources or even sometimes conflict prevention. Adaptation to climate change in the agriculture sector and efforts to secure a sustainable path for agriculture are therefore crucial.

Looked at the other way round, agriculture also has the potential to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Good practices can contribute to higher carbon stocks and lower emissions. We will therefore ensure that agriculture receives greater attention in future strategies.

The second area is energy. Energy is key to enabling people to pull themselves out of poverty. In short, the link between energy access and development is undeniable. That is one basic reason why the EU has fully signed up to the UN Secretary-General's Sustainable Energy for All initiative, and hope to see it fully endorsed by the Rio+20 Summit.


But there is another reason: namely our belief that the EU has a huge contribution to make in bringing the Sustainable Energy for All initiative to life. With this in mind, along with the Danish Presidency of the EU, on 16 April the Commission successfully organised the EU Sustainable Energy for All Summit in Brussels to mobilise stakeholder support around the initiative in the run-up to Rio+20 and beyond. The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and EU Commission's President Barroso were present, as were UNIDO Director-General Kandeh Yumkella and UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet.

Mr Ban has called on governments, donors, businesses and civil society partners to meet three targets by 2030. They are:

• to ensure universal access to modern energy services;

• to double the rate of improvement in energy efficiency; and

• to double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

These targets are bold – but they are certainly achievable if we can manage to build a large coalition of stakeholders to support them. That was the aim of the summit on 16 April – and I believe it achieved its aim.

So the EU stands squarely behind the initiative. This is reflected in our new Energising Development Initiative, through which we will seek to provide access to sustainable energy services to 500 million people in developing countries by 2030. For the more immediate term – 2012 and 2013 – the Commission is establishing a 50 million euro plus technical facility to provide countries with the help they need to develop their own National Energy Access Strategies.

Furthermore, the Commission will commit hundreds of millions of euro in additional funds for innovative financial instruments to attract the private investment we will surely need to help us get the job done. To make Sustainable Energy for All a success, we will have to engage the private sector to a far greater extent than today.

The emphasis on sustainability, efficiency and renewable in so much of our energy funding is of direct relevance to our efforts to combat climate change.


Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Future EU development policy will strive to boost sustainability and climate change action worldwide.

I look forward to hear your suggestions and to discuss with you how we can ensure sustainable energy for all.

Thank you.

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