EU confronts environmental threats as global leaders attempt to revive the global sentiment at NYC climate week

Visit by Miguel Arias Cañete, Member of the EC, to Portugal
Date: 27/07/2018 Location:Portugal, Lisbon
© European Union , 2018. Source: EC – Audiovisual Service

The climate week has kicked off with UN officials, businesspeople and global leaders to participate in a series of events from September 24-30 in New York. Patricia Espinosa together with UN Environment Executive Director Erik Solheim discussed yesterday about the financing of climate change measures and how infrastructure investments can be raised.

The European Commission suggested an increase of the EU emissions reduction goal at 45% by 2030; 5% more than what was set back in 2014. Furthermore, the EC proposed to aid 14 EU member states to meet their 50% waste recycling target by 2020. Such measures are necessary in order to reverse the ongoing situation where record high temperatures and extreme weather events take place across the globe.

Climate: UN top priority

Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General, launched his plan to finance the 2030 Agenda which consists of actions for people, planet and prosperity. The urgent action on climate change is among the high priorities of the UN agenda in order to support the needs of the present and future generations.

Ten days ago, at the Global Climate Action Summit, it was estimated that new UN-backed commitments to deal with the harmful effects of climate change might result in 26 trillion dollars in economic benefits worldwide and help create 65 million new “low-carbon jobs” by 2030.

However, public and private investments are still below the 2030 targets despite the fact that it is an enormous opportunity and the flow of capital can be increased consequentially, allocated into climate action and leading to a more sustainable economy.

Biggest climate week event

The 10th year of Climate Week has already started this week in New York city signalling the time and place where world leaders and businessmen gather and have the chance to discuss more about how to accelerate climate action. Among the government leaders will be Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, President Hilda C. Heine of the Marshall Islands, President Martín Vizcarra of Peru, President Jovenel Moïse of the Republic of Haiti and California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. Moreover, some of the top business figures who participate in this event are Brad Smith, President and CLO of Microsoft,Stephen Badger, Chairman of Mars, Paul Coster, Executive Director of JP Morgan, Robin Chase, Co-founder of Zipcar and Tony Milikin, Chief Procurement and Sustainability Officer for Anheuser-Busch InBev.

Climate Week NYC is organized in coordination with the United Nations and the City of New York and takes place during the United Nations General Assembly. Despite the fact that US President Donald Trump is going to withdraw from the Paris agreement, there are people in the US such as Mayor of New York City who are still willing to support this agreement and the battle against climate change. More specifically, Mayor Bill de Blasio mentioned earlier this month: “Here in New York, we’re taking bold action on climate. Through our ground breaking OneNYC strategy and our ambitious 1.5˚C Plan, we’ve committed our city to hit the highest goals of the Paris climate agreement. We’re divesting from fossil fuels, mandating that our largest buildings cut their emissions, and investing in electric vehicles. Through investments in resiliency and sustainability, we are building a fairer city for all.”

US to lose

According to a new report, US is going to be hit more severely compared to almost any other country in the world. The findings of this report are based on measuring the social cost of carbon, in an attempt to understand how much is lost through climate emissions.

Can this change US President’s mind regarding his controversial decision to drop from the Paris agreement and stop global support against climate change? There is only a tiny chance that Donald Trump would be affected by such reports that could reverse his futile MAGA (Make America Great Again) route.

EC to support climate change actions

The Commission has been very helpful in the implementation of the climate goals but there are still several gaps to be addressed. The executive body of the EU will visit 14 member states, which are currently at risk of not meeting the 2020 municipal waste targets, in order to provide technical assistance in finding out how to deal with this challenge together with national authorities.

As stated by European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, the EU has the chance of becoming “the global front-runner for modern waste management and further develop its circular economy”.

Even if the EU has so far decreased the amount of greenhouse gas emissions by more than 20% compared to 1990 levels, there is still a long way to go and it is imperative that EU’s 2030 targets and its 2050 strategy are tightened up in order to deal with climate change in the long run.

All in all, it seems that the momentum is now to speed up the process of finalizing the Paris rulebook ahead of COP24 which will take place in Katowice, Poland, in December.

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