A Sting Exclusive: “Global Climate: Our Common Responsibility”, S&P MEP Miriam Dalli underlines from Brussels

Miriam Dalli European Parliament

Mrs Miriam Dalli, Member of the European Parliament at the S&D party.

This article was exclusively written by Mrs Miriam Dalli, Member of the European Parliament at the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament (S&D).

Climate change poses an unprecedented threat to the future of our planet. Equity, solidarity and responsibility are the main principles that should guide our actions. We have a moral duty towards ourselves, our children and grandchildren, to take urgent action at a global level. Ultimately, this is our common responsibility.

In this article I will be focusing on the different aspects of this common responsibility, on the approaches taken by the major economies, namely the US, China and the EU, and on the extraordinary contribution of Pope Francis to the whole climate change discussion.

This June, leaders of the seven leading high-income countries, the G7, made a call to drastically cut fossil fuel pollution by 40-70% by 2050 whilst boosting the transition towards resilient, low-carbon societies and economies for achieving a zero-net-emissions economy by 2100.

We have heard similar commitments for nearly a quarter of a century, and yet we saw rising flows of global emissions and rising stocks of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Many times we are very critical of the level of ambition that the EU shows, however it needs to be emphasised that the European Union made significant steps ahead, and it has been particularly successful in decoupling economic growth and greenhouse gas emissions. The EU is on track to meet its 2020 target for reducing greenhouse emissions by 20% below the 1990 level. According to recent estimates, in 2014 total EU greenhouse gas emissions covered by the 2020 Climate and Energy Package were 23% below the 1990 level. At the same time the EU’s GDP grew by more than 44% over the same period. But this is far from being enough since what we are dealing with is a global phenomenon.

However, certain recent key moves have significantly stimulated actions on a global scale. Pope Francis and the leaders of China and the United States have lined up to call for global action on climate change, buoying expectations that a robust accord will be reached at the UN’s climate summit in Paris this December.

The papal encyclical of this May focused on the moral imperative to act. In the document, Pope Francis linked global warming to the overarching theme of his papacy, fighting inequality and global poverty. “The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth” wrote the Pope, blaming a toxic cocktail of overconsumption, consumerism and dependence on fossil fuels. He described an urgent situation on our planet where our atmosphere and environment is filled with more methane and carbon dioxide, with the acidification of oceans and the crippling of the global food supply.

I believe that the encyclical has the strength and authority to galvanise the global community into laying the foundations for an ambitious global agreement as well as highlighting a new path for economic growth, which respects both human dignity and the natural environment.

Extremely interesting is the new political alliance built by the United States and China. The two largest polluters have made some unprecedented emission reduction commitments. The United States’ offer for the Paris agreement is based on measures the White House has already set in place, such as fuel economy standards and rules for cleaner power plants. While, China announced to launch a national scheme putting price on greenhouse gas pollution in 2017 and also pledged to provide 3.1 billion USD to help developing countries to tackle climate change; two moves that could bring the world closer to a meaningful deal on climate change.

In the meantime, we must emphasise the key role the EU played in this process. Europe has already delivered positive results, as it has been the most successful region in determining climate policies, setting binding targets and showing real results through falling CO2 emissions and rising share of renewables. The EU 2020 and 2030 climate and energy targets are impressive and important beyond Europe, too. The EU’s renewed leadership could entail a willingness to explore fresh ways to increase ambition and to demonstrate the benefits of decarbonisation, also in the developing world.

The European Union has a hugely important international role to play; especially, when it comes to building strong alliances. A deal with Africa and with the world’s most vulnerable countries was already reached in 2011 in the Durban climate conference, but now, in Paris it must be re-established and enlarged to include countries of Latin America and Asia that really want an international agreement. A successful EU climate pledge must therefore look beyond emissions within Europe, towards a collaborative approach with developing nations.

The nature of climate change means that new policies need to transcend geographic borders. No nation and no region can afford to be inward-looking. Countries’ individual initiatives are just simply virtually ineffective if taken in isolation. The abatement measures taken so far by individual nations will not achieve the necessary reduction of the effects of climate change, and there is a fear that climate change will bring with it enormous costs for our planet, not only environmental costs but also societal and economic ones. Therefore, there is a strong need to shift the environmental focus away from the national to the international and from the individual to the collective. This is our common responsibility.

I believe that we have to reach a new level of partnership: head of governments from every region, working constructively alongside the private sector and civil society to address an enormous challenge that no one nation or indeed region is capable of solving alone. The stakes are very high for all of us.  We have to act together, all of us individually and collectively, both at national and at international level.

About the author

Miriam Dalli European Parliament

Miriam Dalli was elected to the European Parliament in May 2014. She currently sits as a full member on the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, the Committee on Petitions and on the Delegation for relations with the Maghreb countries and the Arab Maghreb Union. She is a substitute member on the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and Delegation to the EU-Armenia, EU-Azerbaijan and EU-Georgia Parliamentary Cooperation.

Miriam Dalli successfully completed her Doctorate of Law at the University of Malta. Her thesis which focuses on the financial services sector is entitled ‘Investment Advisors: Legal Obligations towards Investors’. Miriam Dalli obtained a first class degree in her LL.B. course which leads to the conferment of Bachelor of Laws. She is a Communications graduate (University of Malta, 1998) and she obtained an MA in European Studies (University of Malta, 2003) and an MBA (University of Malta, 2001).

With over 15 years of experience in the Communications sector Miriam Dalli was the first female news editor on the Islands heading a TV and Radio newsroom. She established herself as one of the main television journalists in Malta and worked as a journalist with ONE TV and ONE Radio. 

During her tenure as Head of News, ONE TV and ONE Radio registered the highest audience shares and her investigative journalism programmes were distinctly acclaimed on a national level. Miriam Dalli was a contributor for a number of newspapers and local magazines and she has been producing and hosting political and journalism programmes for over 10 years. Her valid contribution to journalism in Malta, in particular her news and current affairs programmes and her investigative journalism programmes, were recognized on various occasions.

Miriam Dalli is currently involved in the drafting of a number of new EU policies including the European Energy Security Strategy, the new policy on pollutant emissions from road vehicles, Innovation in the Blue Economy, the European Fund for Strategic Investment, changes to FRONTEX and most recently on the revision of the Dublin rules.

Miriam Dalli is married and has a son.

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