Statement by President von der Leyen ahead of the G20 Summit and the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26)

Statement by President von der Leyen ahead of the G20 Summit and the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26)

Good afternoon,

Indeed, we have two very important summits ahead of us. As you know, the G20 Summit in Rome this weekend and then back-to-back COP26. And I would like to report how we are seeing the development of these two Summits and what our position is there. So let me start with the G20. The G20 is the meeting of the 20 largest, most advanced economies in the world. So in general, we will have a 360 degree view on the world but I want to focus on the three main topics, where the most discussion will be on. And that is the pandemic, or how to end the pandemic; that is the question of global economic recovery; and that is the question of climate change.

So first of all, on tackling the pandemic: Here, I think, the main deliverable at the beginning, to set the stage, is the fact that the G20 will commit to the goal that we want to have 70% of the global population fully vaccinated by mid-next year. This is an ambitious goal, but we fully support this goal. If you look at the European Union’s side, what we are contributing, we have so far in the last 11 months exported over 1.2 billion doses of vaccines to 150 countries and we have delivered close to 880 million doses to the European people. So we have made good on the promise that at least every second dose that is produced in the Europe Union will be shipped abroad. It is even more if you see 1.2 billion doses exported and 880 million doses delivered to the European people. And we will keep on going with that export.

We have looked into the next year and we expect more than 3.5 billion doses of vaccines to be produced in the Europe Union. And of course, a majority of those will be shipped abroad. On top of the exports, we will, as a European Union, as Team Europe – the European Commission and the Member States – donate more than 500 million doses of vaccines, until mid-next year. I expect more pledges from the Member States to come. I am also aware that the Member States have faced some obstacles what the delivery of these pledged doses is concerned. We are trying to address the issues with the Member States and of course with the vaccine producers to speed up the deliveries. This is the first: The vaccines, the exports, the donations.

Then, there is a second topic, underpinning our goal that we want to get better in vaccinating the world, and this is the mid and long term. The G20 leaders will call for increasing manufacturing capacities in developing countries, and here the focus is on the mRNA technology. As you know, this is a project that is very dear to my heart. Europe is investing more than EUR 1 billion in Africa for exactly this purpose. Our common goal is that we really bring the mRNA technology to the African continent so that it is being produced there.

For that, with our African partners, we are convening the pharmaceutical companies, of course, but also foundations, the private sector. We are working on the conducive regulatory environment with the African CDC, building up an African Medicines Agency, and of course with the financial institutions, like the European Investment Bank. And so far, we have made good progress with Senegal, Rwanda and South Africa. Indeed, I think, it is two days ago now that BioNTech signed an agreement with Rwanda and Senegal. So this is moving forward quite nicely. And we are now considering to also have such a cooperation with other African countries like Ghana, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria or Kenya. This is nothing for the very short term, this is more for the mid and long term. But I fully support the goal that the African countries do have, and that is to be more independent in producing their own vaccines. As of today, it is so that, if you look at all the vaccines that are administered in Africa – I am not only speaking of COVID-19, but also of the other vaccines – only 1% is produced in Africa, 99% are imported. The goal is – that Africa sets itself – to have, in 2040, 60% of the vaccines administered in Africa also produced in Africa. And I think that this is feasible.

Now, besides the vaccines, my second point on health in the G20 is: pandemic preparedness. As you know, we took important commitments in May at the Global Health Summit. What we do need is a strong WHO to better prepare the world for potentially a next pandemic. And we need to move away from the ad-hoc responses we have right now to more structural responses that are more permanent to establish. And this needs leader’s attention. Therefore, one important aspect is to bridge the gap that we see between finance and health. That is, in the G20, to bring together Finance Ministers and Health Ministers. And of course, that requires adequate funding, so to underpin that structure with the necessary funding, so that we can prepare the world better for future cross-border health threats, and also mainly to strengthen healthcare systems that have proven not to have enough resilience during this pandemic. I must say: We are not there yet in the negotiations to G20. There are different views on how to do this. But I hope that we will find an agreement mainly with the background of the experience of the pandemic we have right now. So far, for the health part in the G20.

The second subject we will discuss in Rome will be the global recovery. Given that the largest economies sit around the table, this is also the place to discuss how we can ensure a robust economic recovery. We will also discuss how supply chains in the global economy have been struggling to keep up with the rapidly rising demand. And in addition, I believe that we will discuss how the high energy prices, if sustained, could pose a threat to the global economic recovery and what measures could be taken.

And finally, on the recovery part, G20 is of course also the place to discuss the global minimum tax. When we are repairing our economies right now and when we are investing in the recovery, we will and have to  pay attention to fairness. And the global tax agreement we have found does exactly that. The G20 will agree on a global tax reform. I think that this is historical. And afterwards, it is going to be about implementation. We stand ready to implement it quickly. From the EU’s side, we will already make a proposal for implementation on the minimum effective tax rate, before the end of this year. We expect the system to be globally in place by 2022.

The third topic that we will discuss at the G20 with a lot of emphasis will be climate change. As I said, we have the 20 most advanced economies around the table. These 20 largest economies also represent 80% of the emissions worldwide. And therefore, we have a special responsibility to act. The commitments that will be taken in Rome on climate change will somehow be also of course a pace-maker for the COP26. What we need is, first of all, leadership. We need leadership for credible commitments for decarbonisation to reach the goal of net zero by mid-century, but we also need sufficient commitments to really cut the emissions this decade. Science is very clear on that. Science tells us that it is urgent. We are not yet on track right now. Climate change is man-made, so because it is man-made we can do something. But we have to act, we have to better deliver, and only that would enable us to keep within the goal to limit the global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The second important topic – not only in G20 but then also in COP26 – will be climate finance. As you know, we have promised to deliver, year by year, USD 100 billion to the least developed and most vulnerable countries concerning climate change, adaptation and mitigation. And we need to deliver that. There are, if we look at the statistics, now finally encouraging developments. According to the latest report by the German and the Canadian governments, we will exceed the USD 100 billion target in 2023. So we are making progress, but I think that we have to try harder. We should look at providing the USD 100 billion already next year. There is still a small gap and I think that we should put a lot of emphasis and try to close that gap. As you know, the European Union and its Member States are already the largest contributor to climate finance, with more than USD 25 billion per year. I also expect this number to go up in the next days. And I pledged, on top, a top-up of USD 5 billion until 2027, expecting others also to increase their ambition.  

And this leads me directly, finally, to COP26. Indeed, COP26 is mainly resting on three pillars. The first pillar is about ambition. So the big question is: Do we get significant commitments to cut the emissions to actually allow us to stay well below 2 degrees Celsius, and close to 1.5 degrees Celsius of global warming? If we look at the latest UN Emissions Gap Report, that shows that currently the NDCs do not meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, and thus we are still on a very dangerous course of more than 2 degrees Celsius of global warming. This is worrisome and we have to get better there. The second pillar is about climate finance – I was just referring to that. And the third pillar is about the rulebook on international carbon markets.

So, we need to make progress on these three points mainly during COP26: It is the ambition of cutting more emissions now; it is the climate finance for the least developed and most vulnerable countries; and it is completing the rulebook. And I expect the negotiators to do their outmost, that we really advance in those three topics.  

Finally, a look on Europe: Europe is on track to become the first climate neutral continent in the world by 2050. We have a new number that shows something interesting because we have already reduced our emissions by more than 31% compared to 1990, while growing our economy by 60%. And I think that this is an encouraging message that shows that you can cut emissions and prosper; you can reduce the greenhouse gas emissions, you can produce in a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable way, while growing your economy. And this is exactly what we have to show to the world and that we have to show to our people. And our people are expecting us to progress on that.

It is good to see that many more countries have signed up to net zero by mid-century. But what we also need now are not only targets, but we need very concrete plans and immediate action on the ground really to show in detail how we are going to get to reach those targets within this decade. The longer we wait, the more expensive it will become. And therefore, it is about action now.

Finally, as always, we will launch a number of new actions at COP26. Together with President Biden, I will launch the Global Methane Pledge. Under this Pledge, we commit to reducing methane emissions by at least 30% by 2030. If you look at the greenhouse gas emissions, methane is the lowest-hanging fruit. It is 80 times more warming than CO2, so there is an urgent need to do something, and there is a lot we can do. And therefore, I am glad that, by now, 60 countries joined us so far. And of course, we are encouraging others to join this ambition.

The second initiative will be that I will announce a financial contribution of EUR 1 billion to the Global Forest Pledge. That includes EUR 250 million to the Congo Basin. You know that protecting our forests worldwide is a priority for the European Union. Forests are our best allies in fighting climate change, so we really need to protect them.

The third initiative we will launch is on innovation. Innovation is key to fight climate change and to progress into a circular economy with clean producing procedures and more sustainable consumption.  And therefore, future technologies will be the key to help cut emissions. We want to demonstrate – and this is the core of this initiative – that investment in green innovations pays off. So in Glasgow, I will launch a partnership, together with Bill Gates and his programme ‘Breakthrough Energy Catalyst’. We join forces there. The aim is to prove that if you have a breakthrough innovation, of course at the very beginning it is a bit more expensive. But, if we release that green premium, we help this innovation to be faster and to be market-feasible and to better scale up at the markets, such as, for example, innovation in clean hydrogen, sustainable aviation fuels, carbon storage, carbon capture and the energy storage – just to name the four fields where we will be investing in.

Last but not least, fourth initiative that we will presumably start – we are still working on it –, that is joining the US, the UK, Germany, France and the European Union, to launch, together with South Africa, a Just Energy Transition Partnership. The idea is that the countries support South Africa to phase out of coal faster, and to go earlier and faster into developing renewables. We are still working on that but I am confident that we are going to launch this new proposal and then this partnership could become a template on how to support just transitions around the globe, with sponsoring countries and countries that have to move on faster in the just transition.

That was quite a bit. Sorry for being a bit long but there are important four days ahead of us.

Source: Statement by the President ahead of the G20 Summit and COP26 (europa.eu)

Photo Credit : https://pixabay.com/nl/illustrations/klimaatverandering-2063240/

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