No time to lose in climate change fight

As the clock ticks on climate change, European Union ambassadors make a joint call to action to accelerate the transition to climate-neutral economies

#ClimateStrike - the global youth movement for climate action - is a sign of the growing awareness in our societies that climate change is a pressing reality today. It is time to respond to this call to action.

Last year’s IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °C warns us about the serious and partly irreversible consequences that will arise from exceeding this threshold. It is just half a degree away from where we are now, yet we are headed for much higher temperature increase. This is well past what the ecosystems and humanity can tolerate and would eventually leave vast parts of our planet uninhabitable.

Climate change acts as a threat multiplier by increasing extreme weather events such as droughts and floods, fuelling instability through food insecurity, economic weaknesses, or disaster-related displacements. This has serious implications for livelihoods, peace and security across the globe – sparing no country or region, from Europe to Antarctica to the Pacific, and with the poorest and the most vulnerable populations being the most affected.

New Zealand’s geographical location and make-up means it will see the effects of climate change first-hand. A rise in sea levels will increase the risk of erosion and overall need for coastal protection. Higher temperatures will lead to more frequent intense winter rainfalls, increasing the likelihood of flooding. Longer summers with higher temperatures and lower rainfall will force changes to agriculture and alter habitats that are critical to some species.

For New Zealand’s neighbours in the Pacific, the situation is undeniably more grave. To Pacific peoples, climate change today constitutes the single greatest threat to their livelihoods, security and wellbeing. As a consequence of climate change, the incidence of cyclones, serious floods and droughts, and ocean acidification is escalating. The sea level is rising and some islands are now only 1-3 metres above usual high tide. These pressures affect agriculture, fisheries, coastal zones, water resources, ecosystems and human health, exposing communities and economies to significant risk.

The EU and New Zealand share closely aligning values and goals when it comes to climate action. Both focus on ambitious climate action and strive towards a low-carbon economy. Working together with all partners, the EU is determined to help raise global ambition in tackling climate change and lead the way on accelerated action on all fronts.

Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, countries have set out their climate action plans. We call on all countries to continue to work on domestic policies for the full implementation of their contributions. Much still remains to be done. Here, the Zero Carbon Bill will not be the end of climate action in New Zealand. Countries need to respond to the existing ambition gap and the latest scientific conclusions, and prepare long-term strategies coherent with the objectives of the Paris Agreement. One active example is the strong collaboration between the EU and New Zealand on Emissions Trading Schemes, a key component to achieve the commitments made in Paris.

Tackling climate change is inextricably linked to achieving the full set of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Climate action is closely-related to multiple global goals: on energy, water and peace. Only by working together can we effectively address these challenges and reap the benefits.

Europe began cutting emissions and still continuing economic growth in the 1990s. Our green transition goes hand-in-hand with job creation, food security, protection of biodiversity and public health, offering ample opportunities for economic development.

We - the EU and member states - are willing to share our experiences to help accelerate global action towards our common goals. We are already doing this through multilateral and bilateral policy dialogues in major economies and developing countries, capacity-building projects and climate finance.

Not only is the European Union the world's leading donor of development assistance, it is also the world's biggest climate finance donor. Providing over 40 percent of the world's public climate finance, the European Union and its member states’ contributions have more than doubled since 2013, exceeding €20 billion annually.

The European Union is working with the region in the Joint Pacific Initiative for biodiversity, climate change and resilience. Another programme, the EU's Global Climate Change Alliance+, provides a platform for dialogue, cooperation, technical and financial support to small island developing States across the world; including in the Pacific. Currently the EU has pledged over €200 million in funding.

New Zealand has long been invested in development programmes in the Pacific region and recent surges in climate action have seen increased collaboration between New Zealand and the EU. We have joint renewable energy projects in Samoa, Kiribati, Cook Islands and Tuvalu.

The rapidly-changing climate is a global problem and it calls for global responsibility. No matter how much we have done so far, and how much we have strengthened our ambition and speeded up our efforts in these past few years, last week's Climate Summit in New York could only conclude that more is needed.

As the EU, we are global leaders at the state level. But business and people also need to stand up. The clock is ticking. Let’s work together to accelerate the transition to climate-neutral economies and resilient communities worldwide. We are ready. Let's be #United4Climate.

- Signed by the Heads of Mission of the European Union Member States resident in New Zealand and the EU Ambassador to New Zealand.

H.E. Mrs Sylvaine Carta-Le Vert, Ambassador of France

HE Mr Stefan Krawielicki, Ambassador of Germany

H.E. Mr László Zsolt Szabó, Ambassador of Hungary

H.E. Mr Peter Ryan, Ambassador of Ireland

H.E. Mr Fabrizio Marcelli, Ambassador of Italy

H.E. Ms Mira Woldberg, Ambassador of the Netherlands

H.E. Mr Zbigniew Gniatkowski, Ambassador of Poland

H.E. Mr Fernando Curcio Ruigómez, Ambassador

H.E. Ms Laura Clarke, High Commissioner of the United Kingdom

H.E. Mr Bernard Savage, Ambassador of the European Union

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