Paris Agreement architect: ‘Carbon neutrality is the target to go for

    According to European leaders are expected to talk about climate change at the next European Council meeting (where Brexit will dominate) scheduled 17-18 October, following the UN Climate Action Summit and ahead of the Climate Conference in Santiago de Chile in December.

    But inner battles prevail among member states that see Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic holding out against a 2050 net-zero target while Slovakia, Poland and the Czech Republic are pushing back against a more ambitious 2030 target.

    These tensions prevented the European Union to present a more ambitious climate package at the recent UN Climate Action Summit (23 September) in New York, thus preventing the block to fill the void left by the United States and take the lead on climate action.

    In an interview with EURACTIV, Paris Agreement key architect Laurence Tubiana gives her take-away from the UN Climate Action Summit and the role of the European Union.

    Laurence Tubiana is the CEO of the European Climate Foundation (ECF), the Chair of the Board of Governors at the French Development Agency (AFD) and France’s former Climate Change Ambassador and Special Representative for COP21. In 2018, President Macron appointed her to France’s High Council for Climate Action.

    Critics say that the most economically advanced countries have not responded to the climate call with the expected ambition. Do you share this analysis?

    The United Nations Secretary-General set the bar where it needs to be ahead of this Climate Summit, and G20 countries’ response to his call was definitely disappointing. Some good announcements were made, but not from most advanced economies, with most of the ambition actually coming from small developing countries.

    Major G20 countries such as the USA, Brazil, Canada, Australia, Argentina or Mexico didn’t even come or present any commitments. Others made announcements that remain too incremental and insufficient to address the challenge ahead.

    In her speech, the young activist Greta Thunberg said “this is where we draw the line”.[1] The distinction is now clear between the countries that are taking the lead and those lagging behind, simply not hearing the anger from the youth on the streets or the dire warnings of scientists, and their demands for action.

    It is clear that we need to keep the pressure up and push large economies, including the European Union, to show more ambition and take the lead in coming months in line with the objectives set by the Secretary General Antonio Guterres on submitting renewed and more ambitious commitments by 2020 (both nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and long-term strategies), stopping new coal projects and mobilising the required finance.

    Paris Agreement architect: ‘Carbon neutrality is the target to go for’