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European Commission - Speech - [Check Against Delivery]

Speech by Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete at the 46th Pacific Islands Forum Plenary Session

9 September 2015

Papua New Guinea


Your excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to be here with you.

I would like to speak today about a topic of vital importance to all of us – climate change and the urgent collective action we must take to fight it.

The devastation caused by Cyclone Pam in March demonstrated once again how vulnerable this region is to natural disasters that are likely to become more frequent and intense in the future.

The daily lives and livelihoods of your citizens are already impacted by floods, droughts and rising oceans – the new reality of a warming world.

The EU and the Pacific Small Island States are long-standing allies.

We share a lot of common ground – respect for science, equity, and the multilateral rules-based approach.

Four years ago at the UN climate conference in Durban, we showed what this cooperation can achieve.

By working together, we got the conference to agree to launch negotiations on a new global climate deal to be adopted in 2015, as well as a process to raise the level of global ambition over the rest of this decade.

Today, we are less than 3 months away from the crucial Paris conference. Joining forces is more important than ever.

Let me focus on two areas in my speech today:

  • First, how we can ensure that in Paris we are ready to conclude an ambitious agreement capable of limiting global warming to below 1.5 or 2 degrees.
  • Second, key areas the Paris agreement will need to address to effectively shape the global response to climate change.



Getting ready for Paris

Overthe past months, we have seen growing global momentum for an ambitious deal at the highest levels.

This can only be achieved through a truly collective effort.

That's why our immediate priority is to secure a critical mass of proposed contributions, so called INDCs, well ahead of Paris.

The EU was the first major economy to submit its contribution last March – a binding domestic emissions reduction target of at least 40% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.

So far, 59 countries accounting for around 61% of global emissions, including some of the most vulnerable nations, have come forward with their contributions.

I particularly welcome the leadership shown by the Republic of the Marshall Islands in becoming the first small island state from the Pacific to submit its INDC.

I hope that all Pacific island countries will follow suit as soon as possible and inspire others to do the same.

The EU is supporting Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu in preparing their INDCs, and providing technical assistance to the Alliance of Small Island States.

On 12 and 13 October, Morocco and the European Commission will co-host a forum in Rabat to look at the aggregate level of ambition of the INDCs. Before we meet in Paris, we must have a clear idea of the adequacy of our collective effort against our below 1.5 or 2 degrees objective so that we will be able to respond swiftly and adequately.


Key elements of the agreement

Let me briefly outline five key elements ensuring that Paris delivers an agreement capable of keeping us on track to achieve the below 1.5 or 2 degrees objective.

Firstly, the Paris Agreement must be internationally legally binding and applicable to all. The EU would like to see the Agreement to be in the form of a Protocol.

Secondly, a long-term goal in the Paris Agreement will set the "direction of travel" guiding the process of strengthening commitments over time. The EU considers this one of the central features of the Agreement. I would like to see the Paris Agreement both reaffirm the objective of limiting global temperature rise to below 1.5 or 2 degrees, and call on all Parties to collectively reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by at least 60% by 2050 compared to 2010 and be near zero or below by 2100.

Thirdly, the Paris Agreement must include a five-year review to regularly take stock of whether we are delivering on what we have been committing, and whether we are collectively on track with the latest science, and to strengthen countries' targets over time.

Fourthly, we will have to intensify our collaboration before 2020 and reduce even more emissions. Many opportunities exist today, like for instance in deploying renewable energy technologies. I am happy that I could sign four/six sustainable energy agreements at this PIF.

Fifthly, nationally determined targets must be backed by multilaterally agreed and robust rules on transparency and accountability.

With these five elements, I am confident, the new agreement will be capable of keeping us on track to achieve the below 1.5 or 2 degrees objective.

The focus of the Paris Agreement must be about mitigation. However, and let me assure you, that for the EU, adaptation and loss and damage needs to be treated with the same priority and urgency as mitigation.

All countries across the world will need to prepare for dealing with the adverse effects of climate change.

The EU is very aware that loss and damage is a very important issue for the Small Island States and Least Developed Countries. Together, we will have to find a practical way forward on this crucial issue in the Paris outcome. With great interest, I have read the Small Island States’ Port Moresby Declaration on Climate Change.

It is clear that making the transition to low emissions and climate resilience of our economies and societies will be a huge challenge. This will require adequate funding.

We are ready to do our part in this. The EU is the biggest donor of international climate finance. In 2013 alone, we delivered €9.5 billion to support climate action in developing countries. I have listened carefully to many of you over the last two days, and I will continue to work closely with you to identify viable project pipelines in order to further scale up public climate finance and to mobilise private climate finance.

For this to work, all countries need to improve their enabling environments for climate-friendly investments, for example by introducing carbon pricing and phasing out fossil fuel subsidies.



Closing remarks

Ladies and gentlemen,

In 81 days, we will meet again in Paris.

Our citizens expect us to seal an effective deal that will put us on a safe and sustainable development path.

We must rise to this challenge.

This means Europe and the Pacific must work together hand in glove.

And it means continuing our joint efforts on the ground and sharing experience on the challenges and solutions of the transition to low carbon and climate resilience.

I am very thankful that I was able to share views with all of you at this Pacific Islands Forum. A long journey – I admit – but worth taking it!

SPEECH/15/5613

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