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The Big Polluters with Patricia Espinosa, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change


interview

The Big Polluters with Patricia Espinosa, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), faces her greatest challenge: implementing the ambitious Paris Agreement in the fight against global warming.

Marta Gil, Euronews:
“The fight against climate change … a race against time?”

Patricia Espinosa:
“I would say it is a struggle that needs urgent action. This does not mean that it is a process in which we will see immediate results. If we consider that the current target is that for the second half of this century we’ll have a stabilising of greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, we understand that we’re talking about a long-term process, however, we won’t see these changes unless we take urgent action.”

Euronews:
“In fact, it took nearly 20 years to reach a global agreement to fight climate change and less than a year for it to come into force, the eve of the next climate summit in Marrakesh, the second week of November …

“This is a comprehensive agreement, unlike the Kyoto Protocol, which allowed countries the freedom to choose climate change policies. A double-edged sword, perhaps? I mean, how do we ensure now that countries reach their objectives in time to keep global warming below 2 degrees, which is stipulated in the Paris Agreement?”

Patricia Espinosa:
“The Paris Agreement is a built on a common basis that all countries in the world accept responsibility in the fight against climate change. At the same time the Paris Agreement stipulates that countries can increase their measures, but its not possible to reduce them.”

Euronews:
“But there is no penalty if they do not reduce or do not achieve these goals … what happens?”

Patricia Espinosa:
“Many of the rules governing international coexistence are rules based on the goodwill and the common interest of governments to build an international environment. I think the strength of the Paris Agreement is the great mobilization that fuels a level of society in general, private companies, scientists … in other words, it’s a movement that will reach beyond governments.”

Euronews:
“But, the basis of this agreement is the willingness of the parties…”

Patricia Espinosa:
“It’s true, it’s true, but again, I would stress this point. The UN Charter of Human Rights, fundamental human rights … all these instruments that the international community has built for harmonious coexistence is based on the will, but also on the conviction of each country that these rules are necessary.”

Euronews:
“Then talk specifically about the main polluters. The United States. In the US the Obama Clean Energy Act is in a kind of legal vacuum until after the November 8 elections .The Senate is in Republican hands, the Congress remains to be determined, and the presidency … What if the United States fails to achieve its objectives, even if they decide to leave the Paris agreement?”

Patricia Espinosa:
“Seven out of ten Americans are in favour of their country taking action against climate change, and many US companies are already trying to be more efficient and move towards activities which guarantee durable sustainability.”

Euronews:
“Yes, but … the answer depends on the government ….”

Patricia Espinosa:
“Not just because the government is accountable to its citizens.”

Euronews:
“The possibility that a party may leave the agreement was considered?”

Patricia Espinosa:
“This possibility is of course the sovereign right of any state, any country can do it and this is what happened with the Kyoto Protocol, if we remember. But what I see is rather a movement in the opposite direction: in addition to the Paris agreement, this year we signed two key agreements that have a direct impact on this issue. One is with the International Civil Aviation Organization to reduce emissions from the aviation sector, the other, under the Montreal Protocol, to eliminate hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), the gases that cause global warming.”

Euronews:
“And what about China? China, the world’s largest producer of carbon monoxide, says its emissions will continue to increase until 2030 before they start to reduce. Other countries have already set targets for 2020. How compatible are these two policies with the Paris agreement?”

Patricia Espinosa:
“The agreement recognises that there are different realities between countries. China, with its population, its economic configuration, must define what is really feasible. Today, there is a great appreciation for the Chinese government and Chinese society, because they’re trying hard to switch from a very carbon-intense economy to a low carbon one. For a country the size of China and its characteristics, its goals are ambitious.”

Euronews:
“The Paris Agreement is surrounded by skepticism and in particular is criticized for not setting a date for the abandonment of fossil fuels, not to mention renewable energy, not to establish the plan to fund the 100 billion which must be collected by 2020 to help developing countries …
Will the next climate summit in Marrakech provide answers to all these questions left up in the air?”

Patricia Espinosa:
“The Marrakesh Conference will focus on implementation and action.
As part of the funding, we now see a very specific approach, very clear on the part of developed countries. We’ve just had a preparatory meeting of the Marrakech conference and we see that we are already very close to the target. With a conservative approach it is estimated that today we can already foresee a scenario where there would almost 94 billion dollars available for 2020.

“The Paris Agreement holds a key role in new and renewable energy and the need to eliminate subsidies for fossil fuels and move toward low-carbon economies. This means that, given the importance of the energy sector in any economy means we must abandon fossil fuels for energy to move us towards renewable sources.”

Euronews:
“So we have a statement of good intentions based on the goodwill of the parties…”

Patricia Espinosa:
“But there is an agreement … I would like to emphasize that the Paris Agreement is legally binding, it is compulsory for states. Of course, there is no court to accurately monitor the implementation of the agreement. We all share the responsibility; all states will monitor each other to evaluate progress. But, I insist, this is a legally binding framework.”

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