Keynote Speech EVP Timmermans for the World Sustainable Development Summit
Thank you for inviting me to speak to you today on multilateralism and our road to COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh.
At the end of this year, the world will again gather in response to a crisis that threatens our very existence. The climate crisis is already wreaking havoc in each and every one of our countries.
We can tackle it, but only if we all work together in close cooperation. Because a planetary emergency needs a global response.
Just a few months ago, all nations agreed to keep temperature rise at 1.5 degrees and we concluded the rules that allow us to implement the Paris Agreement. In many ways, COP26 was the moment where the world started to move from ambition to action.
We got there thanks to multilateralism, thanks to the stubborn commitment of almost 200 countries who worked hard to find agreement. And we found it.
We came to an agenda that has given me hope. Hope that I can tell my kids, my grandson and soon my granddaughter: ‘we are doing this, for you, and we can actually achieve it.’
I think that Glasgow also proved that the multilateral system works. That this is the way to build stronger, more diverse and more inclusive partnerships. The way to provide a joint response to the challenges of today and those of tomorrow.
Now, this is not to say that the multilateral system works flawlessly. We all know that there are areas where the system is not or no longer ‘fit for purpose’.
This is why the European Union continues to support reform efforts. We will promote the modernisation of the World Health Organisation and the World Trade Organisation and other key institutions. We will also push for the development of new global norms and cooperation platforms on taxation, circular economy, Artificial Intelligence.
Looking back at COP26, I think it was a clear success for the global community. We agreed to end coal and fossil fuel subsidies, we put in place clear rules for transparent reporting of emissions and carbon markets. and we committed to increase our work on adaptation and adaptation finance.
Developed nations failed to mobilise the 100 billion dollars in climate finance that was committed. We are however on track to reach that goal by next year and I want to work to actually meet it this year. The EU has been a consistent donor and we will continue talking to other donors to meet this figure as soon as possible.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, COP26 gave us a shot at keeping global warming well below 2°C. And, if all pledges are fully implemented, the path could even bring us to 1.8°C.
But 1.8°C is not 1.5°C. There is still a lot of work ahead to keep the commitment we made in Glasgow: We need to aim higher. So, our task is to continue working together to implement concrete domestic policies, and ensure that every party submits an NDC that is in line with the 1.5°C target.
I think that in many ways India was also a key player at COP26. Prime Minister Modi’s announcement of a 2070 net zero target was very positive and very welcome. This target will help to steer India’s own green transition, and in the context of COP26, it was this announcement that helped to bring the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement within reach.
India has always walked the talk and we are therefore looking forward to the further plans for your green transition. Submitting an updated Nationally Determined Contribution and a long-term strategy would enable India to take a leading role in the delivery of the Glasgow agreement, and make your country a global example. On several areas, India is already there. The commitment to install 500GW of renewable energy by 2030 is a prime example of India’s global leadership.
The European Union and India are already working together for the green transition and we are eager to continue and expand that work. The International Solar Alliance and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure are two excellent examples of our cooperation so far.
Over the coming months, I also hope to continue the discussion started at COP26 on phasing out coal and ensuring a just transition. We are likewise looking forward to expanding our cooperation on green hydrogen, including by organising a first EU-India Hydrogen Forum.
Inside the EU, in 2022, ambitious climate action will continue to be at the top of our political agenda. We are currently working with our Member States and the European Parliament to negotiate the new legislation to cut emissions by at least 55% by 2030 as compared to 1990. In this global fight, the EU is committed to doing our part, and to deliver at home what we agreed in Paris and Glasgow.
In the run-up to COP27, the EU will continue reaching out either bilaterally or through the G7, the G20, MOCA and the High Ambition Coalition. I will again travel and listen to our partners’ concerns, challenges, and discuss opportunities for a just transition. The better we know and understand each other’s circumstances, the better our response and the easier it will be to ensure the right support flows, whether it’s climate finance, technology or know-how.
Before I close, please allow me to briefly address another COP that will also take place this year. Because there is another crisis for which the world will gather to find a common response. This is the biodiversity crisis.
The biodiversity crisis and the climate crisis are closely interlinked and humanity is slowly but surely grasping the magnitude of these crises. The good news is that our answers to the climate crisis, whether in mitigation or in adaptation, can also help to restore biodiversity.
When we protect and restore wetlands, peatlands, coastal and marine ecosystems, when we develop urban green spaces and install green roofs, when we manage forests and farmland in a sustainable way, we adapt to climate change but we also ensure clean water, healthy soils, and space for nature to flourish.
That is why the Glasgow Climate Agreement also underlines the importance of nature-based solutions.
During COP15, the European Union will push to protect 30% of all land and 30% of all sea by 2030. Nature is our biggest ally in the fight against the climate crisis, and instead of making it pay the price for our pollution, we need to protect nature so it can protect us.
Let me conclude here and thank you very much for your attention. Let’s all remember that the fight against the climate and biodiversity crises is a fight for our common future. In this fight, the EU and India will be close partners, I am sure. So let’s continue our work, and let’s keep remembering why we do it: so that our children and grandchildren can still live happy, healthy lives on this planet we share.