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Ministry for Ecological Transition steps up cooperation with France to fight climate change and improve air quality

Monday 9 September 2019

The visit comes two weeks before the Climate Action Summit convened by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, in New York on 23 September, which seeks to send out clear signals to the markets and policy makers to increase their ambition in the fight against climate change.

Coalition for Social and Political Drivers

Spain, together with Peru, has been commissioned by the UN to head up one of the new key initiatives for this summit, the so-called Coalition for Social and Political Drivers, which seeks commitments from both public authorities and civil society in three areas: air quality, the just transition and gender.

During the meeting at the City Council of Paris, Anne Hidalgo and Teresa Ribera exchanged impressions on the role of Spanish and French cities in the Cities Climate Leadership Group, the so-called C40, and on how to join forces to help the Secretary-General of the United Nations achieve the goals in the three aforesaid areas.

30 countries and more than 60 cities from around the world have signed up to the initiative to attain healthy air quality by 2030, in line with the guidelines set by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which undertakes to develop sustainable mobility plans or low emission zones, and to perform ongoing monitoring of the measures to achieve fully healthy air within a decade.

Just transition

In the field of the just transition regarding workers and regions affected by the change of model towards low carbon development, the Coalition invites States to draw up National Plans for Just Transition, Decent Work and Green Jobs.

This affects countries from all regions and all levels of development that undertake to create inclusive social dialogue mechanisms to forge a strong social consensus that allows a transforming change without major social and economic disruptions.

The signatory countries will evaluate the impact on employment of the ecological transition and the potential to create green jobs, and will design innovative social protection policies to protect workers who may be affected by more ambitious climate mitigation and adaptation strategies.

Spain has been a pioneering country in its approval of a National Just Transition Strategy, in line with the guidelines set by the International Labour Organization (ILO), which is why it was designated as one of the driver nations of the Coalition, which has already been signed up to by close to 30 countries and some 30 companies.

Gender

As regards gender, the coalition calls on all countries to commit to achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls as an essential component of the actions to fight climate change; to improving data and assessing progress in this area; and to supporting initiatives that boost the participation and leadership of women and girls in the field of mitigation and adaptation to climate change. To date, more than 30 countries have signed up to the initiative.

Climate ambition

The Climate Action Summit in New York and the annual climate summit, which will be held at the end of the year in Chile (COP25), must lay the foundations so that in 2020 countries can present their contributions in the fight against climate change under the Paris Agreement that are more ambitious than at present, as well as their decarbonisation strategies for achieving climate neutrality by 2050.

Along this line, the Ministers for Ecological Transition of France, Elisabeth Borne, and of Spain, Teresa Ribera, agreed that the EU must head up the debate on climate ambition, and continue to work to update Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) under the Paris Agreement in 2020, rising from the current commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% in 2030 compared with 1990 levels, to a 55% reduction commitment, as well as to propose achieving climate neutrality in the region as a whole by 2050.

In addition, they agree that the mandate of the new European Commission is a great opportunity to develop the European 'Green New Deal'.

Cooperation on bio-diversity

The ministers also spoke about the upcoming International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress, which will be held in Marseille in June 2020, which Spain is very actively collaborating on in its preparation. This event, held every four years, is the most important international conservation event, will adopt new goals to halt the loss of species and eco-systems, and will also serve to prepare the UN Bio-Diversity Summit (COP15), which will be held in China in the autumn of next year.

With a view to the motions to be addressed at the IUCN Congress, under the slogan of "Nature, Our Future", the Spanish Ministry for Ecological Transition has presented an initiative to "Boost a Just Ecological Transition to eliminate the underlying causes of the loss of bio-diversity and climate change", while backing several motions presented by France focused on strengthening ties between bio-diversity, climate change, reforestation, and cities and nature, as well as of other member organisations of the IUCN, such as SEO/BirdLife, the European Bureau for Conservation and Development (EBCD) and the Secretariat of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species.

Responsible funding

In addition, Teresa Ribera gave a masterly talk on investment for the ecological transition within the framework of the Congress on Responsible Investment held on Monday in Paris by the International Investors Network that works to implement the six Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) promoted by the United Nations.

Teresa Ribera stated that a commitment to the principles for responsible investment highlights the importance of financing flows being at the service of climate, with investments geared towards moving in the right direction, and not the opposite. In this regard, she pointed to the importance of "a future raft of stimuli associated with the Green New Deal", and the important role that the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the European Investment Bank may play in accompanying this transformation, in the same way as "more governments are becoming increasingly involved in facilitating this transformation and accompanying it with social policies".

The Acting Minister for Ecological Transition also underlined in her speech that dialogue between regulators and policy makers is fundamental for facilitating the right investment decisions that are coherent with low carbon economic development that we are aiming for, as was also stressed in the presentation speeches of both the future President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and of the European Central Bank (ECB), Christine Lagarde.

Non official translation