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EU at the UN

The EU's commitment to effective multilateralism, with the UN at its core, is a central element of its external action. As a UN observer with enhanced status, the EU delegation coordinates with its 28 Member States to speak with one voice. The EU also works closely with the UN secretariat and its agencies, funds & programmes, partnering on a range of global issues and challenges.

Madame President,

The Candidate Countries Croatia* and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Montenegro and Serbia, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Armenia align themselves with this declaration.

Dealing with climate change poses one of humanities’ greatest challenges for this century. Human activities have been and are unambiguously changing our Earth’s temperature at a rate which poses severe environmental, economic and security threats to all regions and countries. It is one of the major hindrances to the accomplishment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Without adequate global action, climate change will increasingly hamper countries, especially the most vulnerable, in meeting national and international development goals and could become a menace to international security.

Climate Change has finally received the political attention it deserves. The UN’ GA focus on this global challenge is much welcomed by the European Union, together with the Secretary-General’s priority to climate change and his initiative for a High Level Event on September 24 to give political impetus to the preparations of the next UN Climate Change Conference in Bali, in December.

The world’s Heads of State and Government and peoples are increasingly realizing that such a global threat requires more effective global solutions.

Indeed, the scale of the challenge and the urgency to address it call for unprecedented international co-operation, involving all countries in a global effort to halt climate change, based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities of countries. Negotiations on a global and comprehensive post-2012 agreement to bring about the necessary emission reductions, while supporting sustainable development and poverty reduction, need to be launched at the end of 2007 and completed by 2009 in order to prevent a gap between the first and second commitment periods under the Kyoto Protocol.

Such an international effort will require strong action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, adapting to the impacts of climate change, fostering the development, deployment, diffusion and transfer of low carbon technologies and addressing emissions from deforestation.

We are thus hopeful this informal thematic debate of the 61st UN’ GA will contribute to raising the awareness of the urgency of dealing with climate change and will express the need for considering further and stronger international action to tackle it, while highlighting the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol as the centerpiece of multilateral response to the global fight against climate change. The European Union is very much looking forward to the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali, in December and to the Vienna Climate Change Talks at the end of this month of August.

The European Union is fully committed to deliver its share of the international effort with ambitious emissions reductions from its part, and by working with international partners towards a low carbon future, inter alia through expanding its strategic partnerships and bilateral activities with third countries, in particular in relation to energy efficiency and renewable energy, as well as to emerging technologies, such as carbon capture and environmentally safe sequestration and to engaging more closely with international financial institutions and the private sector.

The European Union has put in place a set of comprehensive measures to deliver on its Kyoto Protocol targets, notably through the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (European Union ETS) with links to the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Joint Implementation (JI). With the implementation of planned additional policies and measures and the use of the Kyoto Mechanisms, the European Union remains on course to meet its targets by 2012.

The European Union is committed to more ambitious action in tackling climate change in the medium and longer term. Indeed, European leaders agreed ambitious commitments in March which send a strong signal to the international community about their resolve in the fight against climate change by taking on the following commitments with a view to kick-starting the negotiations on a global post-2012 agreement that builds upon and broadens the Kyoto Protocol architecture:

    – Until such an agreement is reached the European Union is taking a firm independent commitment to achieve at least a 20% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 compared to 1990 levels;

    – The European Union is willing to commit to a reduction of as much as 30% if other developed countries make comparable reductions and economically more advanced developing countries contribute adequately; and

    – The European Union has also called for a global emission reductions of up to 50% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels.

Such an agreement should be guided by a shared vision to reach the ultimate objective of the UNFCCC. Elements of such an agreement include agreeing on deeper absolute emission reduction commitments by developed countries, facilitating further aid and effective contributions by other countries, extending the carbon market, increasing cooperation on technology research, development, diffusion, deployment and transfer, enhancing efforts to address adaptation, addressing emissions from international aviation and maritime transport, and reducing emissions from deforestation.

By taking on these commitments, the European Union also wanted to send a clear long-term signal on the continuity of the flexible mechanisms, in particular emissions trading and the Clean Development Mechanism, beyond 2012 as important tools to reduce carbon emissions and foster sustainable development.

Madam President,

The European Union is of the view that in order to avoid dangerous climate change impacts – such as an irreversible melting of ice caps, the disruption of key ecosystems, the loss of food security due to reduced agricultural productivity, and the displacement of millions of people due to the loss of secure habitats – overall global mean surface temperature increase should not exceed 2°C above pre-industrial levels. Above such threshold climate change impacts and adaptation costs escalate. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has recently underlined that the window of opportunity for doing so is closing rapidly and that global emissions must peak within less than 15 years and then start decreasing.

There is an increasing body of scientific, technical and socioeconomic evidence that shows that it is technically feasible to meet the 2 ºC objective through ambitious strategies to transform our currently unsustainable economies into low carbon economies on the basis of current and emerging technologies and at moderate overall cost, in the order of a few percent of global GDP, when timely action is taken.

Meeting this objective requires swift global action and unprecedented international co-operation to tackle greenhouse gas emissions.

The European Union believes it is high time to start considering the steps to take after 2012 and how to achieve a global, comprehensive approach to climate change.

In this context, the European Union confirms its view that absolute emission reduction commitments are the backbone of a global carbon market, that developed countries should continue to take the lead by committing to collectively reducing their emissions of greenhouse gases in the order of 30% by 2020 compared to 1990 with a view to collectively reducing their emissions by 60 to 80% by 2050 compared to 1990. The European Union recognises that developing countries are already taking action to tackle climate change.

At the recent G8 Summit in Germany new momentum was injected in the international climate change process with clear commitment to the UN climate change process as the appropriate forum for negotiating future global action. The Heiligendamm Summit reaffirmed that future action needs to be based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. To contribute to a global agreement under the UNFCCC by 2009, the G8 have underlined the need that major economies agree on a detailed contribution for a new global framework by the end of 2008.

The UN Climate Change Conference in Bali later this year is an opportunity for advancing current negotiations with a view to agreeing a new multilateral regime by 2009.

We need to strike the right balance between addressing the different interests and concerns of all Parties – bringing us all closer in this shared endeavour. But we need to do this in a way that reflects the urgency and nature of the climate change challenge.

Development assistance can contribute to tackling the impact of climate change for vulnerable population groups. In this respect, it is essential to identify the primarily affected regions and populations and respond to their most pressing needs by targeting development assistance towards the promotion of sustainable development and capacity building in the vulnerable regions. Raising awareness, both in donor and developing countries, on the impact of climate change, especially as far as vulnerable population groups are concerned, is equally important.

As the World’s largest donor of development assistance, the European Union is strongly committed to supporting developing countries in the fight against poverty, the fulfillment of the UN Millennium Development Goals and the promotion of sustainable development. Combating climate change forms an integral part of this agenda.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol (KP) and institutions linked to them such as the Global Environment Facility (GEF) – and established funds such as the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) and Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) – are naturally among the main channels through which the European Union provides general support and financial assistance on climate change to developing countries. The European Union also provides significant support through other multilateral and bilateral channels.

The European Union was instrumental in the 2001 Bonn political declaration on Climate Change funding for Developing Countries, and since 2005 European Union Member States are providing the $ 369 million promised annually. The European Union is a major backer of the KP’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). The European Union also fully supports the operationalisation of an Adaptation Fund to be financed mainly from a share of CDM revenues.

In 2004 the European Union further underlined its commitment to help developing countries tackle climate change by adopting an Action Plan on Climate Change in the Context of Development Cooperation for the period up to 2008. This Action Plan reaffirms the commitment made in 2001 to deliver $369 million annually (from 2005) for climate change funding for developing countries.

The European Union remains committed to support developing countries in tackling the challenges of climate change, both in adapting to climate change as well as in making the transition to a more resource efficient and low-carbon intensive economic development through ODA, contributions to the established funds, international financing frameworks, and the further development of carbon market based financing mechanisms.

This spring, the European Union provided leadership for our global efforts to deal with climate change. Our Heads of State and Government emphasized that climate change is a major challenge our societies face in this century. Recognizing the urgency of tackling this challenge the European Union stands ready to take more ambitious next steps that to put us on a path towards a sustainable use of energy and natural resources. These next steps will require unprecedented international co-operation in a path that must truly be walked together by the international community.

Again, Madam President, the European Union very much welcomes this thematic debate and the priority the UN has put to fighting climate change.

Thank you very much.

* Croatia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.


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