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“Fundamental And Disruptive” Low-Carbon Transition Now “Irreversible And Unstoppable” Says EU Energy Chief

EU Commission vice-president Maroš Šefčovič at the Paris Agreement signing in New York. Photo: @MarosSefcovic / Twitter
EU Commission vice-president Maroš Šefčovič at the Paris Agreement signing in New York. Photo: @MarosSefcovic / Twitter

Europe has signed up to “a fundamental and disruptive transition to a low-carbon economy and society,” EU Commission vice-president Maroš Šefčovič says as the continent prepares to implement the Paris Agreement.

Šefčovič, in charge of the transformation of Europe’s energy supply as well as space policy, was in New York last week (22 April) to sign the global climate change agreement on behalf of the European Commission, the EU’s executive. Dutch climate change minister Sharon Dijksma signed on behalf of the union’s 28 member states.

In advance of the ceremony, Šefčovič said Europe is signing up to a transition that is now “irreversible and unstoppable.” The agreement commits the world to keep global temperature rise “well” below 2 degrees Celsius.

Fast-Tracking The Agreement

At least 55 countries accounting for at least 55 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions will now need to ratify the agreement nationally, for the agreement to take effect.

EU national leaders have already said they want to ratify the Paris Agreement “as soon as possible and on time.” The agreement was originally scheduled to enter into force by 2020, but momentum seems to be building for a start date as early as late 2016.

Countries including China and the United Sates have announced they will ratify this year. EU climate change commissioner Arias Cañete said Europe “will ratify the Paris Agreement by securing the support of our 29 parliaments,” in reference to the legislatures in Brussels and Europe’s national capitals.

Ramping up Preparations

Across Europe, governments and businesses are ramping up their efforts to prepare for the implementation of the Paris Agreement. “At the global level, we are seeing the winds of change. Europe is part of this and will continue to be a driving force,” Šefčovič said.

Just yesterday (26 April), it was announced that Climate-KIC is in talks with the European Union’s Earth observation programme Copernicus to look at how to accelerate the use of satellite data and information by entrepreneurs, universities, cities, regions and other stakeholders.

The ability to monitor and predict climate change and greenhouse gasses with Earth observation satellites is a crucial development for those looking to produce solutions. The two organisations are now looking at how to get the best data to the right people faster.

The plans were unveiled in Budapest at the at the annual pan-European innovation summit InnovEIT organised by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT).

Cities And Regions Join Forces

It was also announced that more European cities and regions will join forces in search for climate change solutions.

Climate-KIC already works with a broad coalition of cities, regions and its network of business and academic partners to test and scale-up greenhouse gas curbing solutions – and to train local students and entrepreneurs.

The EU initiative’s public-private innovation model is now set to reach more areas with the launch of calls for organisations from additional regions to participate in its Smart Sustainable Districts (SSD) and Regional Innovation Scheme (RIS) programmes.

In his statement about the signing ceremony in New York Cañete said: “In Europe, we have already started our homework of implementing the Paris Agreement and we will continue to lead the global low-carbon economy transition.”

Is your organisation ready for the Paris Agreement? Find out if it could join Smart Sustainable Districts or the Regional Innovation Scheme.

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