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EU Commissioner for Development
Working together to deliver progress in the fight against climate change in Latin America & the Caribbean
The roundtable on “Engaging with Latin America & the Caribbean on Climate Change” / Brussels
17 October 2013
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to see that climate change and sustainable development are able to gather so many policy-makers from Latin America, the Caribbean and the EU.
EU-LAC climate change context
I also welcome the timing of this meeting because, quite frankly, the stakes for our planet are high ever. The recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Climate Change 2013, confirms human’s influence on the climate system. A further, faster rise in the global average sea level would particularly affect Latin America and the Caribbean, where more than 65% of the population lives in urban coastal areas along 72 thousand kilometres of shoreline. So the stakes are high for you, too.
Climate change can bring about an unprecedented reversal in the progress towards poverty eradication and undermine efforts towards sustainable and inclusive development. It is a high priority for Latin America and the Caribbean. This message has come through loud and clear during my recent visits to the Caribbean and South and Central America. Your governments have highlighted the importance of tackling climate change and are looking to the EU for support on climate change adaptation in the years to come. Furthermore, we are aware of a lot of good work on low-emission development strategies and mitigation actions in Latin America and the Caribbean.
For example, Mexico adopted a target to reduce emissions by 30% by 2020. The Dominican Republic has made a voluntary pledge to reduce 25% of emissions by 2030, while promoting green growth and creating “green jobs” in agriculture and tourism. And Brazil has set itself an ambitious greenhouse gas reduction target of at least 36% below projected emissions for 2020.
Meanwhile, the European Union has taken its own ambitious decisions, designed to tackle climate change, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase resilience. The bold targets in our 20-20-20 package will see us strive for a 20% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, compared with 1990 levels; a 20% increase in the share of renewables in the energy mix; and a 20% cut in energy consumption.
From policy dialogue/commitments to development cooperation
Collectively, the EU and its Member States are the world’s largest provider of development aid.
More than that, as strong supporters of climate action in partner countries, we are together the biggest global provider of aid for climate action. We have fully delivered on – and, indeed, exceeded – our Fast Start Finance Pledge of providing 7.2 billion euro in climate finance from 2010 to 2012. This is helping developing countries implement immediate and urgent action to tackle climate change.
The Commission is determined that these targets should not just be figures on a piece of paper. That’s why we have proposed making 20% of our overall budget “climate-relevant”, so that climate change considerations feature in country and regional policy dialogues and are fully included within development cooperation programmes.
To provide targeted, policy-coherent and results-oriented funding that 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.
On the other, we are also backing specific climate-related actions, such as the EUROCLIMA regional programme for Latin America and support for the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, under the Global Climate Change Alliance, or GCCA.
The EUROCLIMA programme, launched in 2010, seeks to work with Latin America on joint climate change solutions for the region, so as to reduce vulnerability and increase resilience.
Thanks to the programme, more than 700 Latin American government officials and scientists have attended training in innovative techniques for research on climate change scenarios.
EUROCLIMA has supported the preparation of guidelines on adaptation and mitigation policies and plans of action, and studies on the social and economic impacts of climate change, including fiscal policies and public finance.
GCCA regional programme
I would like to say a few words on the GCCA regional programme, implemented with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, or 5Cs. The programme will boost local, national and regional capacities and resilience in ways that link sustainable development, risk management and adaptation in a “win-win-win” situation. It will thus improve regional capacities for climate monitoring, modelling, and vulnerability assessments.
It will use local experiences to upscale and implement adaptation actions. And it will target mitigation by increasing local capacities for carbon finance access.
To increase support for climate action and its impact, the EU is also committed to strengthening innovative aid modalities such as blending, thereby leveraging additional resources. To this end, the European Commission has established the Latin America Investment Facility and the Caribbean Investment Facility to facilitate access to financing from European Public Finance Institutions, regional development banks and even unlock private financing for infrastructure investment in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The Latin America Investment Facility put 156.8 million euro into 19 climate change adaptation or mitigation projects between 2010 and 2012. For example, infrastructure projects based on clean technologies have been financed together with SMEs. A future project in Peru will target better social services infrastructure and seek ways of tackling climate change in the Peruvian coastal desert.
When it comes to long-term partnerships, EU development cooperation will encourage the inclusion of climate change issues, with a sharper focus on policy dialogue, capacity development, South-South cooperation, innovative initiatives and technology transfer between the European Union and Latin America and the Caribbean.
The EU’s budget for 2014 to 2020 will definitely take sustainable development and climate change into account. As Commissioner for development, I have made sure that this ambition is reflected in our concrete programmes. As a result, we will provide more assistance to our partners so they can step up the fight against climate change and implement climate actions in their policies and strategies. The budget for regional programmes is proposed to be 340M€ for Caribbean and 1,1 Bn€ for Latin America, subject to the completion of current European budget negotiations.
In our cooperation with Latin America and the Caribbean, regional programmes in particular will be tailored to promote climate policy dialogue between our regions – with support both for frontrunners and for countries catching up – and to boost investment in infrastructures dealing with climate change challenges.
Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Climate change is not just a threat. It is also an opportunity for us all to make the transition to a greener and more sustainable economy, with all the advantages that this can bring. Advantages in terms of green job creation, improved health and living standards, increased resource efficiency, biodiversity and ecosystem protection.
Low-emission and climate-resilient development and growth will take us towards better livelihoods for all.
That’s why, in its new development policy and in its vision for a post-2015 global development framework leading to a decent life for all, the European Union has advocated the need for poverty eradication and sustainable development efforts to go hand in hand.
Some still maintain that we should do nothing to combat climate change. They are missing the point. Just as development cooperation is about investing now for a better future for us all, so the cost of non-action on climate change will be higher than the cost of investing in adaptation and mitigation now.
This is true for all of us – even for countries in Latin America and the Caribbean that are producing low levels of emissions in global terms.
That’s why this kind of fruitful and stimulating debate on climate change between practitioners and negotiators from the Latin America, the Caribbean and the EU is so important. Together, we can take great strides towards achieving a positive outcome from COP19 in Warsaw and, beyond that, from COP20 in Lima next year.
COP20 will be a crucial step towards an agreement in 2015, to become effective in 2020. The choice of Peru as its venue shows just how relevant Latin America and the Caribbean are in the global climate negotiations.
The region will now have a chance to show that it backs a consensus on a new legally binding agreement.
In short, in international climate politics, Latin America and the Caribbean matter. Rest assured that the EU will be your closest partner in delivering real global progress on climate change.