The overriding need is to shift the environmental frame to an international level


Climate, Energy & Sustainability

Picture of Miriam Dalli
Miriam Dalli

Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Sustainable Development in Malta and Trustee of Friends of Europe

Climate change is an area where no nation can afford to be inward-looking. Noble though they may be, countries’ individual initiatives are virtually ineffective if taken in isolation. The abatement measures taken so far by individual nations will not achieve the policy-based 2°C goal needed to just reduce the effects of climate change. In contrast to the Kyoto Protocol, the aim should therefore be to include all major “economies and economic sectors” in an international climate change agreement with legally binding emission reductions.

All the world’s major economies, including Brazil, China, India and the U.S., but far from them alone, should set legally binding goals on emissions reduction in the medium and long term to relieve the problem of carbon leakage and open up new cost-effective reductions.

Fundamental to climate change mitigation is education

An international commitment of this sort would filter down to regions, cities and even individual industrial sectors, and ensure they all play a proactive role in the future. The submission of ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contributions’ by individual countries as a bottom-up approach that includes robust compliance and enforcement would then have to follow. Such a system should ensure that all countries in the climate change agreement comply with their commitments; support should be given where needed, but all countries should be held accountable for non-compliance.

For the international negotiations on the 2015 agreement to succeed, the financing of climate mitigation and adaptation in developing countries is key. Disadvantaged states have in the past rightly voiced their concern about the lack of financial help from industrialised countries, yet the reality is that modern economies do indeed ‘exploit’ their natural and human resources, and one of the main victims of this has been the environment.

A two-pronged approach is needed when helping under-developed nations. The first is cleaner extraction at source, and the second is financial aid for cleaner energy. At the Cancún conference back in 2010, the EU and other developed countries said they would mobilise $100bn every year by 2020. However, since then progress on this has been slow if not non-existent. Those negotiations mainly revolved around the structure of the Green Climate Fund, a new multilateral fund meant to channel climate finance to developing countries.

For the international negotiations on the 2015 agreement to succeed, the financing of climate mitigation and adaptation in developing countries is key

The need to shift the environmental focus away from the national to the international – from the individual to the collective – is now overriding. The nature of climate change means new policies needs to transcend geographic borders. Fundamental to climate change mitigation is education, and although some commendable educational efforts are being made the focus must shift to moving away from traditional concepts of outreach. A holistic approach is needed to bring together community and business leaders, and of course the younger generations.

What we Europeans should be creating is a profound dialogue with developing countries that addresses the negative connotations of climate change. A successful EU climate pledge must therefore look beyond emissions within Europe, towards a collaborative approach with developing nations.

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