The deal was only possible thanks to national negotiators, businesses, and citizens, and in particular the diplomatic leadership of France. For its part, the European Union brought crucial ideas to the table such as the five-yearly reviews. We also saw striking leadership from the private sector.
We are now in the ‘honeymoon phase’, because with this Paris Accord the job is far from complete; it is an agreement but it is an agreement to do more.
Financing the deal
The question on everyone’s lips is: how will we pay for it? Achieving the grand ambitions set out in Paris will require huge changes over the next few decades in the energy sources we use for transport, heating, lighting and the provision of goods and services.
Progress will depend on financial incentives to wean the world economy off fossil fuels, combined with intensive research and development of non-carbon energy sources. The challenge is to find a way to mobilise the considerable additional resources needed, much of it from the private sector.
The European Investment Bank (EIB), the Bank of the European Union, is the world’s largest lender for renewable energy and, increasingly, other climate-related investment. It has mainstreamed climate considerations into decision-making across its entire portfolio and has for some years respected a target that at least 25% of its aggregate activity should be climate-related. It pioneered Green Bonds in 2007 and, over the next five years, the EIB expects to provide around EUR 100 billion for investment in climate projects around the world.
At the beginning of the Paris conference, EIB President Werner Hoyer participated in a joint Heads of Multilateral Development Banks (MDB) event to launch a Joint Statement announcing significant commitments to scale up climate action financing by 2020, which is the year of the entry into force of the new climate agreement.
In the run-up to Paris the MDBs also reached out to the commercial banking sector to agree on basic principles for setting climate targets and mainstreaming climate considerations in their activities. These Principles, together with a more detailed practices document, were launched at a side-event in Paris with participation of EIB Vice President Jonathan Taylor. Up to the start of COP 21, 26 financial institutions had joined the initiative which remains open for new supporting organisations.
Earlier this year, the EIB announced a new climate lending strategy and agreed that by 2020, 35% of its activity aimed at poorer nations will be climate related to help them cut emissions and cope with the effects of extreme weather. The strategy places greater focus on adaptation measures for those already affected by climate change and on the so called "mainstreaming" of climate action.
The EIB therefore stands ready to build on our unique project experience and strong financial track record with a firm commitment to support climate finance both across Europe and in developing countries around the world.
Over recent months the “Road to Paris” has been a rallying call in Addis Ababa, New York, Lima and at our EIB headquarters in Luxembourg. The climate deal finally reached was the culmination not only of a fortnight of talks, but of more than 23 years of international attempts under the UN to forge collective action on this global problem.
European climate policies therefore need to reflect that the future lies firmly in a low carbon economy, and specifically in projects that support renewable energy, energy efficiency and measures to protect vulnerable countries from the effects of climate change.
Next year the COP 22 will take place in Marrakech, Morocco to discuss the necessary actions to turn the Paris agreement into reality. Clearly most of the work still lies ahead of us and the EU Bank stands ready to play its part.
Mikolaj Dowgielewicz, Director General, EIB Permanent Representative in Brussels and a trustee of Friends of Europe.
IMAGE CREDIT: CC / FLICKR – European Parliament