A lack of ambition means a climate tax will be levied by climate change itself, a tax that is bad for everyone, paid for with destruction, and without any upside for society. This is why we have proposed a flexible carbon border adjustment mechanism to use only if partners are not ambitious enough on climate action
The evidence is clear. In August, the world's scientists concluded once again that immediate action is needed. Climate change is uncomfortably close to all our daily realities no matter where in the world we live. Already it is triggering the kind of climate disasters we saw this summer, putting the survival of many species at risk and soon rendering certain parts of the Earth uninhabitable to humans.
As climate scientist Prof Kimberly Nicholas framed it, "It's warming. It's us. We're sure. It's bad. But we can fix it." In Paris, five years ago, the international community finally agreed to embark upon an ambitious journey: to limit global warming to between 1.5 and 2°C. While such levels of warming might seem manageable, the difference could be existential. For the human body, the difference between 40 and 42°C is the difference between life and death. Containing the temperature increase means limiting climate disruption and reducing the chance of natural disasters.
Yet the news is not all grim – science also tells us that a zero-carbon society is possible – a society of new green jobs and growth that can limit warming to 1.5°C. The European Union has already shown that it is feasible to decouple growth from CO2 emissions (since 1990, our GDP has grown by over 60% while net greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by a quarter). In July we released our legislative package to implement the European Green Deal and deliver a 55 per cent net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 on the path to climate neutrality by 2050. This transition of how we generate and use energy, move around, build and heat houses and use the land is designed in the fairest way possible, ensuring no one is left behind. Otherwise, it won't work. obviously, the EU cannot manage alone as we only emit 8 per cent of global CO2 emissions. We have to inspire others – even the most reluctant partners – to join the path to climate neutrality. When the EU committed to climate neutrality by 2050 two years ago, few believed Japan, USA, South Korea and even China would follow. When we launched the EU Green Deal, few imagined the EU would borrow for a green recovery to finance the most ambitious climate neutrality plan in the world. We set up the first Green Alliance for climate neutrality, starting with Japan on 27 May, and we pushed for the G7 to commit to climate neutrality in June. Now we are pushing the G20 to follow suit.
We invite all partners to strengthen their climate mitigation and adaptation plans. We are ready to offer technical and financial support, and are walking the talk with our own Climate law, 2030 package and Adaptation Strategy.
We are among the world's biggest providers of climate finance, releasing EUR 22 billion (USD 26 billion) in 2019, representing more than a third of the total effort by developed countries And we are committed to scaling up this amount further in the years to come, as can for instance be seen by European Commission President Von der Leyen's recent announcement of an overall 4 billion top-up under the EU's core budget over the 2021-2027 period.
But we need others to do more also to meet the commitment by developed countries to provide USD 100 billion per year for climate action in developing countries.
The EU has fought hard to keep the Paris Agreement alive. After negotiating, the time for climate action is here. Each State must increase its ambition to cut global emissions, but the UNFCCC just released a disheartening report. Under current commitment, global temperature would rise by an unacceptable 2.7°C by 2100 – a gloomy outlook to say the least.
A lack of ambition means a climate tax will be levied by climate change itself, a tax that is bad for everyone, paid for with destruction, and without any upside for society. This is why we have proposed a flexible carbon border adjustment mechanism to use only if partners are not ambitious enough on climate action.
Putting a price on carbon is essential, one way or another.
We want to lead by example and engage with partners, but we are prepared to take more action, if necessary.
If we close the gaps in financing and ambition, if all countries commit to doing more, then we can still keep the climate crisis under control.
We now need a systemic and exponential change away from fossil fuels. It is good for our health, our households, our crops, our water, our jobs and our economies. This will require the support of world leaders and pressure from citizens. Every action counts: how we vote, what we eat, how we travel. Just how damaging climate change will be is in our hands.
On 24 September, the Government of Nepal and development partners endorsed the landmark 'Kathmandu Declaration' to develop a strategic action plan for Nepal towards Green, Resilient, and Inclusive Development (GRID).
The government and development partners intend to scale up support for such areas as sustainable tourism, renewable energy, cleaner transport and resilient roads, integrated solid waste management, sustainable forest management, watershed protection and water supply, biodiversity conservation, adaptive social protection, climate-smart agriculture, and sustainable cities.
Partnerships and opportunities will be sought with the private sector to increase green investment and support job-creating small and medium enterprises and businesses in these and other areas.
Nepal's GRID vision also emphasises inclusion to enable women, indigenous groups, and vulnerable and marginalised communities to realise the benefits of a green, resilient recovery.
This includes skills training and education opportunities to help citizens prepare for an evolving job market in a new green economy with greater opportunities for all Nepalis.
There is no time left for inaction – the time for practical solutions is now, from the most basic to the most innovative.
Deprez is Ambassador and Head of EU Delegation to Nepal
A version of this article appears in the print on October 11, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.