• The EU negotiators have arrived in Dubai: the European Commissioner for Climate Action and the Spanish Minister for Ecological Transition (as Spain is currently the president of the Council of the EU)
  • On mitigation, Hoekstra surprises even the sceptics, stating that COP28 must phase out fossil fuels
  • Ribera focuses on adaptation and on the resources for climate finance, expanded to the countries that nowadays have the financial capability

“We need to look further ahead and prepare the ground for the next round of NDCs and get to the heart of the matter: the thing we are all obviously talking about is phase out. Let me again be clear about the EU position: this COP must mark the beginning of the end of fossil fuels. This is a key part of the EU mandate, of our negotiating mandates, which means that all 27 European Member States want this to be part of the outcome of the negotiations. And I will negotiate, together with Teresa Ribera (Spanish Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Ecological Transition, representing Spain’s rotating presidency of the Council of the EU) on their behalf to ensure that this outcome is secured: quite simply, we have to get rid of fossil fuels.”

The EU Commissioner for Climate Action, Wopke Hoekstra, shows up in Dubai with a determined and expeditious approach to decarbonisation. He surprised even those sceptical about his role since he was appointed last summer, receiving the tasks previously of former Vice-President Frans Timmermans. And, if this is to be his attitude and action in the negotiations on behalf of the Union and the 27 Member States, he will certainly not make his compatriot’s frown regret.

“Ever since the Paris Agreement – Hoekstra adds – we have had a goal: not to exceed a temperature limit in order to safeguard our lives and also the lives of future generations. We have a lot of work ahead of us in the coming days, and COP28 is the time to take stock of the Paris Agreement, and the science is very clear. We have no alternative but to follow what the scientists are telling us: we are simply not on track. They are telling us that we must accelerate the reduction of our emissions and we must do it during this decade.

The European Union is here to negotiate a Global Stocktake outcome that sets a higher level. We know what is needed and we know that we have to move faster: the world has to peak emissions by 2025 at the latest and achieve a 43% reduction by 2030.”

Everyone in the world is experiencing the effects of climate change, this means the transition must happen now and it must happen faster. The Global Stocktake must recognise the science and stay in line with a 1.5°C future, so that is our task.”

Teresa Ribera (Spanish Vice-Premier and Minister of Ecological Transition, representing Spain’s rotating presidency of the Council of the EU) will lead the negotiations for the EU together with Commissioner Hoekstra, “to ensure that the EU facilitates what the President said in this very critical decade from a historical point of view. This means that we can ensure that we can stay within the 1.5°C pathway if there is a strong decrease in emissions and guaranteed action for sustainable investments worldwide”.

“We must also achieve results on adaptation – says the Spanish Minister of Ecological Transition – security on access to fresh water, response to health challenges, preservation of biodiversity. Furthermore, results on resilience, especially for children and young people, in a world with a changing climate. These are also critical points in a 1.5°C scenario to discover our ambition on climate change. It is also worth thinking about what climate finance means: the 100 billion pledge was the starting point, but Paris envisaged much more on this issue. We will not reach 1.5 degrees if all financial flows are not climate-proofed”.

At the end of his speech, almost as if it were not to be noticed, Ribera states one of the positions that has always been the most debated and that has become decisive in recent editions and will certainly be so at COP28, namely who should finance the fight against climate change.

“To make this possible, we need a lot of work, beyond this platform. But it is time to start this conversation: we need to invest in resilience architecture, we need to invest in resilience infrastructure. We need to decarbonise industry and energy systems to make this future possible. The EU will continue to provide financial assistance to the most vulnerable countries, but we need to broaden the base of contributors and change the logic applied so far. All principles could be important in these discussions: historical responsibilities, but also up-to-date financial capacity. We will work hard together to secure these results and look forward, that is our commitment”.

Article by Paolo della Ventura, Italian Climate Network Volunteer

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