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European Commission

Connie Hedegaard

European Commissioner for Climate Action

Climate change: our common challenge, our common opportunity

AMCEN Ministerial meeting in Arusha (Tanzania)

Arusha, 14 September 2012

Thank you to Minister Terezya Huvisa for inviting me to the AMCEN meeting. Thank you to Tanzania for providing this excellent setting. And thank you for allowing me to address this distinguished group of African Ministers.

The EU and AMCEN are strong partners in pursuit of our common goals on environment and climate change. I know you look to the EU to take the lead on climate action. Particularly, following a successful COP on African soil, we look to you for leadership as well.

I am not saying we are in full agreement on all issues, but there is more that unites us than divides us. What united us in Durban was the desire to re-establish the sense of urgency, to increase the level of ambition, and to increase the participation. These are all preconditions for meeting the future challenges on adaptation, mitigation and finance.

Durban marked a significant step forward. I thank South Africa for bringing the Durban Platform to life.

The close cooperation in Durban between many developing countries and the EU helped to push the negotiations to a successful conclusion. That is a model for the future.

Doha is about implementation of what we agreed in Durban: both in relation to the new institutions, and not least in the continuation of the Durban Platform towards a new, global, legally binding agreement in 2015.

When we leave Doha, it must be credible to our citizens that we can and will agree to a new climate regime in 2015. Citizens are getting impatient.

Adaptation

On Adaptation we made huge progress in Durban. But the issue must stay on the agenda and our minds. We must give the institutions we created, like the Adaptation Committee and the Green Climate Fund, the opportunity to deliver.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak to some of you and I heard about the presentations by others. I was encouraged to hear how climate change is integrated into the core of the economic strategies.

Mitigation

On the broader climate agenda, we must maintain what we agreed in Cancun and confirmed in Durban: global temperature rise must not exceed 2 degrees.

Goals and targets matter. In the current economic crisis in Europe, the European countries have set stringent targets for their national economies. These targets are seen as the only way to overcome the crisis. If we have a challenge to meet, the solution is not to weaken, but to strengthen our actions.

Many African countries, including our host Tanzania, are in the process of making climate action plans. Here, I see no fear of commitment. This is the kind of spirit we need internationally.

The EU supports the principle of common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities. But it must never be an excuse for inaction. The climate change challenge can only be met if all contribute to the best of their abilities. In the 21st century, we are all interdependent, and we all need to contribute to the common challenges.

The EU represents only 11 per cent of global emissions and cannot alone make the necessary impact. Let us work together in bringing more big economies on board.

I know there is one big question on your minds. Will the EU really commit to a second commitment period [under the Kyoto Protocol]? The answer is clear and simple: Yes we will.

We will confirm this in Doha as part of the package we agreed in Durban. Doha must deliver progress on all tracks. We need to close the LCA [Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action] and make substantive progress with a work plan for the Durban Platform. I think we can achieve this.

Let us avoid procedural technicalities taking a good outcome hostage. We need to focus on what moves the climate agenda forward. For the length of the second commitment period, the EU supports eight years. The EU has already adopted policies and individual national targets that will deliver at least 20 per cent in 2020. A five-year commitment period would not add to the ambition, and it would create an unfortunate gap until 2020, when the new regime will enter into force. As I argued in Durban, there must be synergy between the end of the second commitment period and the start of the new regime.

Finance

Another issue I know is high on your agenda is climate finance. Europe remains committed to the Copenhagen target of mobilizing USD 100 billion a year of public and private finance by 2020. 

Despite the economic downturn, Europe fully expects to fulfil its commitments as regards fast start climate finance, and is particularly proud to have delivered a balanced allocation to adaptation and mitigation from new and additional resources.

The EU and its Member States committed to provide EUR 7.2 billion in fast start finance over 2010-2012, almost one-third of the total pledged by developed countries.

Currently, a total of EUR 4.59 billion in fast start finance has been mobilised and this money is being spent on concrete climate actions in developing countries. Of this, a substantial amount (EUR 714 million) has been targeted towards Africa.

The Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA) targets 14 countries and several organisations in Africa. With EUR 210 million spent, it is significant.

This financial support comes on top of a significant effort within the Commission and many member states to mainstream climate change mitigation and adaptation into European development portfolios.

Realistically, however, meeting the demands from climate change will also depend heavily on the innovations in leveraging private finance, developing access to innovative funding mechanisms like CDM [the United Nation's Clean Development Mechanism], public-private partnerships and blending of grant and loan facilities.

The Green Climate Fund will be an important mechanism in mobilising these funds of which Africa will be a principal beneficiary.

Green economy

Let me finish with a few words on the Rio+20 conference and the green economy. It is really good to see how Africa has embraced the green economy paradigm with resource efficiency and low carbon development at its core. This is the most intelligent growth and development strategy for the 21st century. Business as usual is not an option.

At different stages of economic development, the green economy offers opportunities for all of us. Also Europe has taken it to heart. This is not only good for the climate and the environment, but essential for reinventing our economies and creating new jobs.

It will be important to foster the synergies between the Rio+20 processes and climate action. Climate change is an overarching challenge, and, if not controlled, it will cause serious threats to poverty eradication, food security, economic development and sustainable development.

In Europe we have bailed out banks, but there is no such thing as bailing out climate change.

Therefore, as we approach Doha and as we continue to discuss green economy and new, global goals, I hope Europe and Africa together can promote the necessary policies to achieve a sustainable future.


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