Climate Talks – Pre COP27 – UNRC TPs
Talking points by Francoise Jacob, UN Resident Coordinator in Serbia at Pre-COP27 Climate Talks held today in Belgrade.
Dobro jutro, dobro dosli and thank you for inviting me to share some opening remarks.
Madame la ministre de l’Environnement, Irena Vukovic, Mr l’Ambassadeur de l’Union Européenne, Dear Ambassador of Egypt, excellencies and colleagues,
First, I want to congratulate the minister for her re-appointment to the post of minister for environment. It gives all of us the possibility to continue and expand the joint work without disruption, with good understanding of each other, and a shared desire for achieving greater ambitions. Then, I want to thank the Ambassador of Egypt for his enthusiastic support to preparing this special event. All eyes will be on Egypt in one week exactly, and this COP27 will be one of the most challenging ever, considering it takes place in a context of multiple crisis, with a global temptation to pause on earlier commitments to reduce carbon emissions. UNEP Emissions Gap Report, 2022) issued just a few days ago shows once again that at the current rate, we will see an increase of 2.5 C by the end of the century, and we remain way off our first target in 8 years. Expectations at the COP27 are once again very high, with a focus on keeping the 1.5-degree goal within reach, fast tracking implementation of both mitigation and adaptation strategies, and delivering on the promised $100 billion a year for climate action and in support of loss & damage.
Since we have a new government, let me start by saying that Fighting Climate Change must be at the center of all actions, above & much beyond responding to the present energy crisis. In particular, this means that the majority of the resources that we are currently investing to address this energy crisis should be shaped as investments for the future – with the exception of increased cash transfers for the most vulnerable households. Subsidies, loans and private investments must support the country long term ambitions for reduction of emissions, energy transition, energy efficiency, reduction of pollution, job creation and reskilling.
Now, we planted some good seeds in the past 2 years, through the actions of many people present in this room. The legislative and regulatory framework has expanded – along with international and national financing frameworks. For the UN, most importantly, the concept of Just Transition is finally becoming mainstreamed in strategies on the energy transition. This was one of my key asks in last year event, and I can only tell you that I am thrilled that we are moving on that path. I am thinking of the UNDP project of course, but I am also hoping that the just transition and the leave no one behind approach will be adopted in much of the future investments. Climate action as you know is also about Fighting inequalities. So big thanks to those of you who have made this possible: my colleagues from UNDP & ILO, the EU, SIDA, EIB, SDC, 3 core ministries: environment, energy, agriculture.
We are still going too slow. So I will share 4 points today on the UN call for Climate Action:
1. We must accelerate and upscale all actions, in both mitigation and adaptation, across all public and private sectors. The EU estimates that over the 2010-2019 period, GHG emissions in Serbia were reduced by just 2.6 %. The country needs to augment these reductions by at least four times over the next 8 years, to reach its own goal. It means that beyond the Ministry of Energy & Mining, key economic ministries have a essential role to play to implement the climate agenda: i) agriculture, ii) industries, iii) construction, transport, urban development, iv) trade, and of course vi) environment (waste) and vii) interior (on all matters related to preparedness), and viii) Health. This whole of government approach is absolutely key to see faster progress, this is not a side agenda for one department of each ministry. Another way to put it is that we need to instill a greater sense of urgency and commitment in our daily work, and in all our teams and partners. We don’t have time any longer.
2. Accelerating and upscaling will only be possible when economic sectors closely coordinate and converge with each other. And when all stakeholders, many in this room today, push forward in same direction, no matter our differences and our temptation to compete. So this is a call for a greater sectoral integration, and I am glad to know that several of these ministries will participate to the panels today. Equally important is the direct involvement and empowerment of cities and local governments, as well as the private sector, to champion the transformation. They, along with national institutions, are also accountable for ensuring the change.
From the UN Side: some of the recent global initiatives are a great way to frame cross sectoral approaches – sustainable food system (FAO/MINAGRIC), urban development (UNHAB/WUF). Other agencies are intimately involved in these initiatives such as UNWomen, UNOPS, UNDRR, WHO, UNEP or UNICEF.
3. The 2 previous points need to be backed and supported by a more strategic and ambitious communication, engagement and outreach to the multiple communities out there, citizens, the youth, the media. We need to communicate with clarity and transparency on the need for change, on opportunities, on science and knowledge, on solutions, results, on the links between climate change and health, climate change and pollution, circular economy and so much more. Many of these links are not understood. I believe that knowledge sharing is a fundamental requirement to get a wider momentum among decision makers and financers, and maybe we need to think of large-scale outreach & training initiatives across institutions and society.
We should also transform a narrative from one of threat to one of opportunity, one of crisis that we suffer from, to one of future that we create, where citizens can participate. This is one of the most recurrent questions I get from young people, and it is great to know that they are represented here. I also think we have to work with the media differently, to really expand the knowledge and interest of a greater audience. Maybe next time we have such event we should do it in a university.
4. My last point is on an aspect that we don’t talk much about - the inherent resistance to change, of individuals, organisations and systems. We need to understand better why some subsidy schemes work better than others, which incentives work for who, what additional incentives or targeted support is needed to address gender in energy poverty, or to get a faster shift from households. We need to understand why some cities perform better than others, what governance models are more effective to support change, who are the early adopters in the private sector and take the successful stories to emulate others. We have to continue the work to inform the political narrative at all levels, find champions, develop skills for the workforce to take up the new jobs arising from the energy transition, and most importantly, get the whole education sector involved.
I will conclude by saying that A Net-Zero world is possible, if we have meaningful convergence and commitment between diplomatic, political, economic, and technological resources – encapsulated in a political vision. Decarbonization that spurs technological, social and governance innovation and investments, should be seen as one of the greatest economic opportunities of our time. It would also place Serbia on a trajectory towards greener investments and a more prosperous future, acting as a flagship for the region.
Now is the time to act and move forward in a systematic and decisive manner. We want to ensure that, beyond laws and policies, the private sector and all citizens become agents of change, as part of a inclusive platform of action that includes and works for the youth, women, and the most marginalized. This is a beautiful and powerful stream of work under Agenda 2030. I wish all of us good luck and lots of inspiration. Hvala.