Last December, 195 countries gathered in Paris to negotiate a new global climate agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The result – the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate deal – sets out a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2oC. To further underline their determination countries also agreed to pursue efforts to limit temperature increase to 1,5oC. Now, ten months on from that historic outcome, the European Union (EU) remains proud of the ambitious Paris Agreement and Botswana should be as well. However, there is no room for complacency after the success of the Paris Conference; in order for the vision of a global low emissions future to materialise, our attention needs to turn to putting our words into action.
Already this year, we have seen encouraging signs that our partners around the world are keen to maintain the unprecedented political momentum in support of climate action. More than 180 countries have now signed the Paris Agreement and 26 have completed their domestic ratification procedures and become Parties to the Agreement. We are happy that Botswana is making progress towards ratifying and encourage Botswana and all the SADC countries to ratify as soon as possible. Ratification is an important step towards the implementation of the Paris Agreement but ratifying the agreement on its own will not deliver the necessary greenhouse gas reductions, adaptation action and financing. Equally important are the steps countries will take to meet the commitments made in Paris, starting with the policy and legislative frameworks required to develop robust national climate plans and international approaches. The EU and its Member States are taking concrete implementation very seriously. We are moving forward with our ambitious domestic climate policies, with new proposals that will help us meet our emissions reduction target of at least 40% by 2030 and further drive the transition to a low-carbon economy. We hear and understand concerns that taking action against climate change can affect economic growth. But we have found that the opposite is true: our emissions have decreased by 23% since 1990, while GDP has grown by 46% in the same period. During these years we have created new jobs, businesses, technologies and competitive advantages that prepare us better for the new climate compatible economy.
The EU and its Member States have more than two decades of experience in developing and implementing an ambitious climate policy, but we know that many of our partners are doing so for the first time. We stand ready to share our experience and lessons learned for the benefit of others – in fact we already have extensive climate policy co-operation with some of our key partners. We are committed to supporting Botswana and other climate-vulnerable nations to develop national climate plans and make the transition to low-carbon climate-resilient economies. The EU is already providing 5 million Euro (nearly 60 million Pula) assistance to Botswana through the Department of Meteorological Services under the Monitoring of the Environment for Security in Africa (MESA) project. Using earth observation and satellite technologies, this project aims to monitor the weather and environmental situation in Southern Africa. This project helps SADC countries including Botswana more quickly react to droughts, floods, or bush fire in order to minimize their effects and put in place mitigating measures. We are furthermore in dialogue with the government to see how we can best help Botswana implement its climate plan.
In addition, EU Member States continue to support Botswana, other countries in the region and SADC as a regional organization in their endeavors to reduce greenhouse gases and to cope with the effects of climate change or strengthen their resilience thereto. As well as developing long-term climate strategies, there are actions we all need to take now. In just a few months, countries will gather in Marrakech (Morocco) to start to add the technical detail to the breakthrough political agreement in Paris. Building capacity to act, addressing loss and damage associated with climate change and setting out a roadmap to reach climate finance targets are just some of the issues on the table. Before then, countries will also aim to reach multilateral agreements on limiting aviation emissions and phasing out highly climate warming gasses used in refrigeration and air conditioning. And it is not just governments taking action. Businesses, cities and civil society all have a crucial role to play in delivering the action on the ground that will really make a difference. For example, the Botswana Climate Change Network in their 'greening the young minds' project is working with schools to convert from liquid propane gas to climate-friendlier biogas. The Network is also engaging women farmers in identifying climate resilient tools and technologies for adaption. Paris was a defining moment in the safeguarding of the planet for future generations. We must maintain that momentum in the months and years ahead, because the prize is worth it: lower emissions, greater energy security and energy efficiency, innovation-driven growth. There is lots of work to do, and we look forward to continued partnership with Botswana and the SADC region.
Co-signed by the resident European Union Heads of Mission in Botswana