COP21 - Carole Dieschbourg and Miguel Arias Cañete review the draft agreement adopted by 196 parties one week before the end of the conference

COP21One week after the start of negotiations as part of COP21, the Minister for the Environment, Carole Dieschbourg, who is representing the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of the EU, and the European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete, gave a joint press conference on 5 December 2015 in Paris to outline the EU perspective on the situation, soon after negotiators from the 196 parties had adopted a draft of the world agreement to keep global warming below 2°C.

The objective of the 21st Conference on Climate Change (COP21), which is being hosted in Paris from 30 November to 11 December, is to achieve, for the first time in more than 20 years of negotiations in the United Nations, a universally binding agreement on the climate, involving all parties and aiming to keep global warming below 2°C. The agreement will succeed the Kyoto agreement from 2020.

Carole Dieschbourg welcomed the progress made during the first week's negotiations but warned against a draft agreement that is still too complex

Minister Dieschbourg began by highlighting "some progress made during the first week" which has enabled us to produce a bridging text which is "slightly shorter and clearer". "But the draft is still too complex and has many options", she said, reaffirming her belief that it will be possible to make a "solid and ambitious deal with the political involvement of everyone" and reminded the parties that there were only seven days to go in which to strike a deal.

The Minister said that the fact that the rules for the second commitment period of the Kyoto protocol had been approved the day before was "a good sign". She was also pleased that "good progress" has been made on several relevant aspects for the new agreement, such as boosting capacity-building for developing countries.

But Carole Dieschbourg was "concerned" by the fact that the scientific review of the temperature goal to limit global warming (between 1.5° and 2°C) has been blocked by a small number of parties. In this context, she reminded those present that the European Union was working "in close cooperation" with vulnerable countries to find solutions.

Regarding the indispensable parts of the agreement, the Luxembourg Minister stressed the "determination" of the EU and Member States to obtain a global agreement on climate that would be "legally binding". She emphasised three particular elements.

First of all, an agreed long-term operational goal that can show a roadmap for businesses, investors and the broader public to follow will need to be foundshe said.

Second, she emphasised the need to agree on a dynamic process for reviewing and strengthening ambition for the agreement over time. "This is all the more important as commitments (INDCs - Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) that we have on the table to date are not enough to fulfil our goal of keeping global warming below 2°C", she said.

The Minister was keen to stress however that the INDCs of 185 countries covering more than 95% of total global emissions get us "a long way towards our target".

Third, Carole Dieschbourg called on the need to have clear and common rules to ensure that the parties respect their commitments. "Without this, it will not be possible to track collective progress towards long-term goals", she said, stressing the fact that transparency is the key to reaching a credible agreement.

In this context, the Minister reiterated that the EU was a "solid and reliable" partner, which is committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions to less than 40% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. The EU will continue to work hard with its partners to find solutions based on trust, and alliances that go to show true progress and ambition, she said.

"The world urgently needs a new global climate deal", she concluded, emphasising the " historic responsibility" and the need for an agreement that will stand the test of time, achieve compromise and reflect current economic and geopolitical realities.

Action Day

Carole Dieschbourg then made a point of saying a few words about Action Day which took place on 5 December. She welcomed the successful events that took place during the first week of the conference, on the sidelines of the negotiations. More particularly, she congratulated the meeting of some 700 mayors who had come to Paris from all over the world on 2 December to announce their commitment to using 100% renewable energy by 2050 and slash their CO2 emissions by 80%. "Non-state stakeholders are a key piece to finding solutions to combat climate change", she said, calling on the non-state action to be recognised in the Paris agreement.

Miguel Arias Cañete stresses the need for an ambitious agreement in all areas

The message from Miguel Arias Cañete, the European Commissioner heading Climate Action and Energy, was equally clear: "We only have a week left to seal the deal for the century to come. We are on the point of putting a framework in place that will transform the lives and economies in every country across the world", he said. For him, world leaders are all focused on the same priorities. "This is not about them and us, but all of us", he insisted.

However, the Commissioner said that, "if we want to succeed, the Paris agreement should be ambitious in all areas, in terms of cutting emissions, mitigation, adaptation and the means for its implementation, including financing. "Climate finance is, in his view, "a critical element", as some of our partners will need support to be able to participate in the global effort, he said. "Here the European Union is fully committed to playing its part", added the Commissioner, who dismissed accusations which "couldn't be further from the truth".

"The EU is the biggest provider of climate finance as well as for official development assistance in the world", said Miguel Arias Cañete, who gave a short review of the EU's efforts. The EU and its Member States have provided more than half of the 120 billion dollars spent annually on climate finance. In 2014 Member States had provided over 14.5 billion euros to developing countries to combat climate change, a sum which is equivalent to 80% of the finance to the Least Developed Countries Fund and the Special Climate Change Fund, and over 90% to the Adaptation Fund. The lion's share of these amounts is grant finance, particularly in the case of the Adaptation Fund in the poorer and more vulnerable countries. In two years, Adaptation Fund grants rose from 334 million euros to 559 million euros. All in all, 800 million euros in aid was granted per year for climate financing.    

As for future action, Miguel Arias Cañete stated that 20% of the EU budget will be earmarked for action against climate change up to 2020. Fourteen billion will go to developing countries, averaging more than 2 billion in aid per year. The more donors there are, the more likely it will be to help, he believed. "South-South cooperation is already a reality", he pointed out.

On the subject of EU ambitions, the Commissioner stated that it would be "easier to reach a weak agreement than a strong one". And he added: "but we haven't come here to reach a weak agreement. That would be worse than no deal at all".  Since the conference delegates share a vision and recognise that an agreement must be reached by the weekend, he believed "we came to find an ambitious, fair, sustainable and dynamic deal that will put us on a low carbon climate path and make us more resilient in order to prevent dangerous climate change. This is the only deal that will be acceptable".

Asked about the concept of a "legally binding" agreement on commitments to take carbon reduction measures, the Commissioner emphasised that this was the mandate of the EU and COP21, and that he wasn't alone in supporting this approach. Knowing that the USA does not want to tie their carbon reduction commitments to a legally binding agreement, Miguel Arias Cañete said that the EU was ready to discuss "alternatives", on the condition that a strong, sustainable and global agreement can be reached. If the USA wouldn't accept the idea of a "legally binding" agreement, they should accept language elements that provide the confidence that everyone will deliver on the terms of their commitments. "We want the USA on board. We do not want a repeat of Kyoto. The agreement must be universal", he concluded.

The Ministers for the Environment and Climate representing 196 parties will step in on 7 December in order to broker a final agreement on 11 December.

  • Updated 05-12-2015