Legally-Binding Global Agreement Is Most Effective Way to Tackle Man-Made Climate Change

Today, across the world, the embassies of the U.K. and Germany are joining with the EU delegation and other countries to highlight the challenge we all face – climate change.

Together with the French presidency of the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) due to take place in Paris, we are committed to achieving a binding international agreement to address this challenge in 2015 and encourage other countries to take action. The agreement has to be ambitious, well balanced and in compliance with the agreed-upon objective that the increase in global temperature should be no more than plus 2 degrees. In our interconnected world of the 21st century, climate change affects us all. So it will take global action to successfully counter it.

Our governments and the EU are convinced that climate change is a real and urgent threat.  The overwhelming scientific consensus and body of evidence on climate change is clear about the severe consequences for mankind if no action is taken.

The world’s climate is already changing. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is at its highest level in 800,000 years. Global temperatures are rising – by over half a degree in the last 50 years. The impact of this climate change is already being felt. Arctic ice is melting and it is getting thinner. Sea levels are rising and weather patterns are changing. Earlier this year the U.K. experienced its worst floods in hundreds of years, with devastating consequences. Germany saw catastrophic floods in 2002, 2006 and 2013, which used to happen only once a century.

So what is being done to tackle climate change? The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was established to consider how to tackle man-made climate change. It is clear that the most effective way to achieve this is through a legally-binding global agreement in which all major emitters are bound into mitigation commitments and developing countries are supported to take mitigation action and adaptation measures against climate change.

But the global action being taken is not only limited to negotiations. That is why we are taking a leading role in working with partner countries worldwide to implement climate-friendly solutions to make ourselves fit for tackling climate change.

Recently the U.K. Department for Energy and Climate Change reiterated an emissions reduction target for the U.K. of 34 percent by 2020. This will ensure the U.K. meets its climate change target of a 50 percent reduction in emissions by 2030. The U.K. is also committed to providing climate finance to developing countries to follow low carbon-development pathways, to adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change and to protect the world’s forests. Overall, the U.K.’s International Climate Fund provides £2.9 billion (US$4.7 billion) in assistance to help to do this work. Much of that money is already at work in projects running across the world, including Kazakhstan, where US$24 million has been allocated through the Clean Technologies Fund to finance various green projects.

The development of renewable energy, an increase in energy efficiency, the exit from nuclear energy and an emissions reduction target of 40 percent between 1990 and 2020 are the cornerstones of Energiewende, the German concept for a transition towards a new low-carbon energy system.

With the Petersberg Climate Dialogue, an annual high-level conference for decision makers in the field of climate policy which took place for the fifth time in July 2014, Germany contributes to the political push towards a global climate agreement in 2015.

Kazakhstan and Germany have already been cooperating successfully, e.g. in the fields of energy efficiency and emissions trading. Germany is ready to increase joint efforts in this regard.

The EU adopted an Energy-climate package under the French presidency in 2008 and continues to be a world leader in tackling climate change and low carbon development.In the climate and energy policy framework for 2030, the European Commission proposes that the EU set itself a target of reducing emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. The EU Emissions TradingSystem has become the EU’s key tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from industry. The EU has also initiated legislation to raise the share of energy consumption produced from renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and biomass to 20 percent by 2020.

The fight against climate change is increasingly reflected in other policy areas, such as security, transportation and sustainable agriculture. To further advance this process, the EU has agreed that at least 20 percent of its €960 billion (US$1.2 trillion) budget for the period 2014-2020 should be spent on climate change-related action. This is on top of climate finance from individual EU member states. This budget marks a major step forward in transforming Europe into a clean and competitive low-carbon economy.

We support Kazakhstan’s own efforts to tackle climate change through its strategy to transition to a green economy. The renewable energy sector is being developed with implementation of legislation and regulation policy. There are many public and private initiatives in the power, construction and agricultural sectors. We hope that broader action will also be taken by the government of Kazakhstan in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to develop a national emissions trading scheme.

We welcome Kazakhstan’s active role in global climate negotiations and commitments taken for the second period of the Kyoto Protocol. As we said at the outset, global action is necessary to address the global challenge of climate change. We look forward to continuing to work with Kazakhstan and others to ensure action is taken.

The authors are Ambassador of Germany to Kazakhstan Dr. Guido Herz, the Head of the EU Delegation to Kazakhstan Ambassador Aurelia Bouchez, British Ambassador to Kazakhstan Dr. Carolyn Browne and Ambassador of France to Kazakhstan Francis Etienne.  

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