Why the European Union is forging ahead with the Paris Agreement
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With the Paris Agreement, the world decided to take responsibility for its present and its future, by committing to preserve the very source of life: our planet and its environment.  

The climate change deal is an unprecedented multilateral partnership between nearly 200 countries, supported by companies and communities across the world, to address a problem facing all of us. It's a challenge we can only tackle together and, since the beginning, Europe has been at the forefront of this collective engagement.

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There is a growing acknowledgment that there is no other way than acting together. Today, more than ever, Europe stands by this landmark agreement and leads the way on its implementation, through effective climate policies and strengthened cooperation to build strong partnerships.

 

It also strengthened support for the poorest and most vulnerable. We see more and more people on the move, or exposed to extreme poverty, due to droughts or floods linked to climate change. For Europe, dealing with climate change is a matter of political responsibility and multilateral engagement, and a matter of security, prevention of conflicts and even radicalization. 

That is why the European Union will not renegotiate the 2015 Paris Agreement. We have spent 20 years negotiating. Now it is time for action, the world's priority is implementation. 

And as we address climate change with an eye on the future, we create countless opportunities for the present by setting up new and better ways to produce and consume, invest and trade and protect lives — for the benefit of all people as well as the planet.

To accelerate the global transition to a low-emission, climate-resilient future, we have started to strengthen our existing partnerships and seek new alliances, from the world's largest economies to the most vulnerable island states. From the Arctic to the Sahel, climate change is a reality today, not a remote concept of the future.

 We expect all countries to uphold the Paris Agreement and put words into action by implementing their national climate plans and strengthening their efforts over time. Plans must be turned into concrete, actionable policies and measures — now.

The EU is already working towards completion of the legislative and regulatory framework necessary to deliver on our goals: to reduce emissions by at least 40 percent by 2030 compared to 1990. Our legislative actions cover all sectors of the economy. We are putting energy efficiency first and boosting uptake of renewable energy across the board.

Taking action on climate change goes hand-in-hand with economic growth. Take the EU's case: our emissions have fallen by 22 percent since 1990, while total EU GDP has grown by 50 percent. During this period, we have created new jobs, businesses and technologies. We are preparing our economies for the future and, at the same time, investing in making our societies more resilient to climate change, to reduce current and future risks.

We have more than two decades of experience in developing and implementing ambitious climate policies. We are ready to share our experiences and lessons learned. It's not by chance that we have already established extensive climate policy cooperation with key partners across the globe. We will also continue to provide substantial funding to support climate action in partner countries. In 2015 alone, EU support totaled 17.6 billion euros.

This November, countries will gather in Bonn for the next UN climate conference — COP23 — to continue to flesh out the work program for implementing the Paris Agreement. Next year, the UN climate process will be the first opportunity since Paris to look at our collective efforts to limit global warming and assess what we have done concretely to deliver on our commitments. These are key steps for turning the political agreement reached in Paris into reality.

Yet this is a challenge we can only overcome though the greatest possible involvement from the public, businesses, local communities and cities in parallel. And we are seeing an unprecedented breadth and scale of action by all of these actors. As institutions, we can plan and support the strategies needed to save our environment, but it is they that have the crucial role of turning policies into action and results on the ground. 

Our new EU Consensus on Development actively promotes this role. Both enhanced cooperation and coordination among all stakeholders will be key.

Only by working together will we be able to live up to the level of ambition we have set ourselves and reap the many benefits of concerted action: lower emissions, greater energy security and efficiency, innovation-driven growth, job creation, more resilient societies and a better environment. 

Paris was a defining moment in the global challenge to safeguard the planet for present and future generations. The EU is determined to not only implement the Paris Agreement, but also build strong global partnerships to ensure that diplomacy and multilateralism bring real, tangible results for our people. The world, the planet, can count on the European Union.

Federica Mogherini is the European Union’s chief diplomat, serving as high representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and vice-president. Miguel Arias Cañete is the EU’scommissioner for Climate Action and Energy.


 The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.