Climate, Environment & Energy
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Video message from the HR/VP Josep Borrell
Acting now is acting for the next generation. It will save many lives around the world. It is the best investment in a green, healthy and prosperous future. It is still within our reach.
- EU High Representative Josep Borrell
The EU is a climate leader: guided by science, it has stepped up its domestic commitments, adopting the objective of climate-neutrality by 2050, and enhancing its short-term GHG emission reduction target, and thus the EU’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), to at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990.
The EU contributes to fighting climate change at global level through both domestic action and international cooperation.
Domestic policies, legislation and initiatives include:
- carbon pricing
- energy transition towards renewables,
- low-emissions and no-emissions transport options
- more environmentally-friendly land-use and agriculture
- more sustainable cities
- climate-resilient communities,
- fewer emissions from all sectors of our economy.
EU energy diplomacy aims to accelerate the global energy transition, promoting energy efficiency and renewable technologies, amongst other things. At the same time, the EU’s energy diplomacy will discourage further investments into fossil-fuel-based infrastructure projects in third countries, unless they are aligned with an ambitious climate neutrality pathway, and will support international efforts to reduce the environmental and greenhouse gas impact of existing fossil fuel infrastructure.
EU environmental strategies and action plans aim to contribute to the objectives of the European Green Deal. The EU's Biodiversity Strategy sets out specific actions and commitments aimed at reversing the degradation of ecosystems and put Europe's biodiversity on a path to recovery by 2030. The Action Plan ‘For a cleaner and more competitive Europe’ is the roadmap towards achieving a circular economy in the EU and in the world.
The concept of food system includes every step of food lifecycle, notably production, transport, transformation, commercialisation and consumption.
The transition towards sustainable food systems is therefore a key component of the green transition, ensuring social, environmental and economic sustainability (healthy people, healthy societies and a healthy planet). Food systems are globally responsible for around one third of greenhouse gases emissions.
It is also a contribution to the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development, in particular the “zero hunger” and “good health” objectives.
The Farm to Fork Strategy is the main EU contribution in this field, combining new standards for EU production and consumption, as well as promotion of these standards towards partner countries and relevant international organisations.
International Ocean Governance
International Ocean Governance (IOG) plays a crucial role in fostering healthy oceans, halting the loss of biodiversity and fighting climate change. In 2016, the EU was the first economy in the world to develop an IOG agenda and commit to a safe, secure, clean, healthy and sustainably managed ocean. On 24 June 2022 a new IOG agenda was launched, addressing the points below, among others:
- Fighting climate change and environmental degradation are among the top EU political priorities. The ocean is embedded in the European Green Deal and in the vision for a stronger Europe in the world and is a global issue requiring a multilateral response.
- The decline of the ocean is accelerating as unsustainable human activities and their harmful impact continue to degrade the ocean leading to profound changes with the risk of reaching tipping points. The ocean’s state of emergency is echoed in the limited delivery of relevant global commitments, notably the Aichi Targets under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goal 14.
- The ocean is amongst the world’s foremost geopolitical arenas as shown by the recent increase in tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean and the South China Sea, with Member States calling for respecting territorial integrity and navigational rights as well as for a peaceful dispute settlement. Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine is affecting the global stability and the security of the Black Sea region and is raising concerns about its maritime implications.
- The ocean has gained political traction at the global level and 2022 is a pivotal year for the ocean with several key negotiations and ocean conferences taking place. The ocean has become more prominent in international debates on climate and biodiversity as well as the seafarer crisis, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which highlighted the importance of the social dimension, of decent working and living conditions for seafarers.
With the largest combined Exclusive Economic Zone in the world and considering the above-mentioned developments, it was essential for the EU and its Member States to reaffirm and update their commitment towards an improved ocean governance.
Tensions and conflicts over access to water continue to rise, as the world’s water resources and ecosystems deteriorate, and the threat of water scarcity spreads. Water has thus become a foreign policy issue, as recognised in the EU by the 2013 Foreign Ministers Conclusions. On 19 November 2021, the Foreign Affairs Council adopted Conclusions on EU Water Diplomacy. The Council made the case for making the link between water, security and peace, including the potential of transboundary water cooperation as an instrument for peace.
The Council Conclusions on Water in the EU’s external action adopted on 19 November 2021 seek to develop an approach to water which reflects increasing challenges (such as climate change or growing water insecurity) and the impact on EU water diplomacy of both the UN 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The Council Conclusions recognise the potential for water to affect international peace and security and stress the importance of transboundary water cooperation and governance. The Council Conclusions also highlight the EU's commitment to the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, as components of the right to an adequate standard of living. The Council Conclusions welcomes the UN 2023 Water Conference and underlines the urgent need globally for more inclusivity, concrete actions and commitments within cross-sectoral approaches in order to achieve water-related targets and goals.