During the Parliament Plenary session in Strasbourg, Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President at the European Commission presented the opening remarks on the outcome of COP26 in Glasgow. 

‘COP26 did not solve the climate crisis but that was also not the purpose of COP26. It had to bring the objectives of the Paris Agreement within reach and allow us to start implementing this deal. This it did’ introduces Mr Timmermands. ‘This COP sharpened our focus and gave us momentum. I believe it does represent clear progress. I believe we’re now travelling in the right direction, a direction set two years ago by the European Union’.

Mr Timmermans continues the speech, ‘The Glasgow COP embraced the highest level of ambition of the Paris Agreements as our common target. We now have a global consensus on the need to limit climate change to 1.5 degrees. Ten days after COP26 this almost seems like a given but ten days before we began, the mantra was still below two degrees, and some countries even challenged the fact that Paris ever spoke of 1.5’.

‘In addition, countries that do not have nationally determined contributions in line with this 1.5-degree target will have to come back next year to deliver the required update. For the first time, the parties of COP26 agreed to phase down coal and fossil fuel subsidies. Whatever you may think about the precise language that was necessary to get the whole package over the finish line, this is a big win. Of course, if you compare the phase down with the initial formulation to phase out, you’re disappointed. But as Greenpeace said in Glasgow, changing a word doesn’t change the signal’.

The era of coal is ending!

‘Before Glasgow, the commission set three objectives. One to push for emission cuts that bring us within Paris territory with NDCs that keep global warming well below two degrees while aiming for 1.5. Second, to close the gap on the $100 billion climate finance goal, while ramping up support for adaptation. And third, to complete the Paris rulebook so that we can keep track of progress and hold countries to account. The Paris rulebook, which seems like an esoteric subject sometimes, but it’s essential to have carbon markets actually function in a way we want them to function. On all these three issues, we saw clear progress’.

‘We went into the COP on track for 2.7 degrees, way too much, but a lot less than three or four degrees we were headed for in Paris. And after COP for the very first time, we have a shot at staying below two degrees now. We will see in the coming weeks what the actual number is, but we still have a shot at staying below two degrees. I will not take into my narrative the 1.8 mentioned by the International Energy Agency, let’s see in the coming weeks when we do the calculation where we are, but we have a chance of staying below two degrees’.

‘Heading into the COP there was still a gap of about $20 billion on the developed world’s commitment towards the developing world. This is why in this house the President of the Commission committed an additional €4 billion to climate finance. It pressured others to do the same or follow suit. Shortly after our commitment, the United States announced their own $11.4 billion commitment’.

‘During Glasgow, other donors added to this to bring us closer to this goal and we may reach it next year instead of 2023. We also started to look beyond 2025 and long-term needs. Adaptation finance will at least double, and we will start a dialogue to discuss finance for loss and damage’.

‘So what does this mean for the EU? Glasgow confirmed that the EU is a global leader and a necessary bridge builder. Our climate diplomacy, supported by credible policies and commitments, our carefully nurtured climate dialogues with countries like Japan, China, Turkey our outreach to others like India, Brazil, Indonesia, have helped to push all major emitters to step up their ambition. Each of these countries will roll out and accelerate its own green transition’.

Closing remarks

‘Honourable members, let me react to some of the things that were said. First, the mythical cost of the transition, and that climate policy is ideological. I think by now we can agree that denying the climate crisis is ideological. Science is clear. The evidence is clear. One would have to be blind not to see what is happening in our natural environment, globally, everywhere. One would have to be blind not to want to read the report of the Global Climate Panel, which is so clear. And the only reason we made such progress in Glasgow is that all countries on Earth have now seen the devastating effect of a 1.1-degree increase in temperature in relation to pre-industrial levels’.

‘That is why we now have the 1.5 enshrined in our decisions and that we have to insist on updating the NDCs for next year. I would implore, I would ask all of you, wherever you’re from if you talk about the cost of the transition in the same breath look at the cost of non-transition, which is so much higher. Not just in financial terms, but in human terms’.

‘The second point I wanted to make is about the other countries. Two years ago it was a lonely position to be in as European Union. The US had as leader a climate denier. China didn’t want to do anything. Look at where we are now. They’re all declaring carbon-neutral, climate-neutral goals. Even Russia has done that. Russia is even introducing the first pricing of carbon, which would have been unthinkable a year ago’.

‘So the world is moving. And you are absolutely right. On our own, we will not get there, but our example is being followed. China is introducing an emissions trading system based on our emissions trading system. Other major economies know they will all have to put a price on carbon, so they will all be faced with a risk of carbon leakage, so they’re all looking at systems such as CBAM and comparable systems to avoid carbon leakage’.

‘We will have to look at many other measures to keep the developing world on our side. We need to look at the IMF what we can do with SDRs to mobilize them to help climate finance. Wonderful leaders such as the prime minister of Barbados, Mia Motley has given us the direction where we need to go. We need to listen to them, we need to make sure we give them, we amplify their voice, and we give them the solutions they need’.

Read the full speech here.

Source: European Parliament