The evidence is clear. In August this year, the world’s scientists concluded once again that immediate action is required. Climate change is uncomfortably close to all our daily realities no matter where in the world we live. Already it is triggering the kind of climate disasters we saw this summer, putting the survival of many species at risk and soon rendering certain parts of the Earth uninhabitable to humans.
As climate scientist Prof Kimberly Nicholas framed it, “It’s warming. It’s us. We’re sure. It’s bad. But we can fix it.” In Paris, five years ago, the international community finally agreed to embark upon an ambitious journey: to limit global warming to between 1.5 and 2°C. While such levels of warming might seem manageable, the difference could be existential. For the human body, the difference between 40 and 42°C is the difference between life and death. Containing the temperature increase means limiting climate disruption and reducing the chance of natural disasters.
Yet the news is not all grim - science also tells us that a zero-carbon society is possible – a society of new green jobs and growth that can limit warming to 1.5°C. The European Union has already shown that it is feasible to decouple growth from CO2 emissions (since 1990, our GDP has grown by over 60% while net greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by a quarter). In July 2021, we have released our legislative package to implement the European Green Deal and deliver a 55% net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 on the path to climate neutrality by 2050. This transition of how we generate and use energy, move around, build & heat houses and use the land is designed in the fairest way possible, ensuring no one is left behind. Otherwise, it won’t work.
But obviously, the EU cannot manage alone as we only emit 8% of global CO2 emissions. We have to inspire others - even the most reluctant partners to join the path to climate neutrality. When the EU committed to climate neutrality by 2050 two years ago, few believed Japan, the USA, South Korea and even China would follow. When we launched the EU Green Deal, few imagined the EU would borrow for a green recovery to finance the most ambitious climate neutrality plan in the world. We set up the first Green Alliance for climate neutrality, starting with Japan on 27 May 2021, and we pushed for the G7 to commit to climate neutrality in June. Now we are pushing the G20 to follow suit. And we will never stop pushing for progress.
We invite all partners to strengthen their climate mitigation and adaptation plans. We are ready to offer technical and financial support, and are walking the talk with our own Climate law, 2030 package and Adaptation Strategy. We are among the world’s biggest providers of climate finance, releasing EUR 22 billion (USD 26 billion) in 2019 representing more than a third of the total effort by developed countries and we are committed to scaling up this amount further in the years to come, as can, for instance, be seen by European Commission President Von der Leyen’s recent announcement of an overall EUR 4 billion top-up under the EU’s core budget over the 2021-2027 period.
But we need others to do more also to meet the commitment by developed countries to provide USD 100 billion per year for climate action in developing countries. Mobilising more private finance will also be important in this regard.
We must work hard to keep the Paris Agreement alive. After the negotiating, the time for climate action is here. Each State must increase its ambition to cut global emissions. This is why we have proposed a flexible carbon border adjustment mechanism to use only if partners are not ambitious enough on climate action. Putting a price on carbon is essential, one way or another. It is a proven way to the price signal that triggers change. We want to lead by example and engage with partners, but we are prepared to take more action, if necessary.
If we close the gaps in financing and ambition, if all countries commit to doing more, then we can still keep the climate crisis under control. Based on science, realists today know the cost of inaction is immeasurable. It’s a fantasy to believe we could afford not to act.
We now need a systemic and exponential change away from fossil fuels. It is good for our health, our households, our crops, our water, our jobs and our economies. This will require the support of world leaders and pressure from citizens. Every action counts: how we vote, what we eat, how we travel. Just how damaging climate change will be is in our hands.
The EU strives to take a leading role in climate action, but we want to do more with Namibia, where the EU has been already engaged in the national efforts of mitigation, adaptation and resilience to climate change impact. As an example, the EU is currently supporting the country’s efforts to implement its ambitious Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) made under the Paris Climate Agreement, and transitioning to climate-resilient, low-carbon sustainable green economy, through the Global Climate Change Alliance Plus (GCCA+) programme. The EU’s contribution amounts to EUR 3.67 million, out of the total GCCA+ budget of EUR 4.5 million.
The EU also supports Namibia’s smallholder livestock farmers to become resilient to climate change, through the Support to the Livestock sector in the Northern Communal Areas (NCAs) of Namibia. The main objective of the programme is to strengthen livestock value chain in communal areas of northern Namibia, leading to sustainable farming, improved livelihoods and employment opportunities for primary producers and other actors in the chain. One of the main results to be achieved by this programme is improved livestock production systems and resilience to climate change. The total cost of the Livestock Programme is EUR 22.125 million, with the EU contributing EUR 20 million.
In the period 2015-2018, the EU provided support towards Namibia’s climate action through a project aiming at strengthening the capacity of farmers to manage climate-related risks in Northern Namibia. This project was centred around the promotion of Conservation Agriculture (CA) and complementary Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) as an adaptation strategy to lower the vulnerability of small-scale farmers to the potential negative impacts of climate change. The EU contribution towards this action was EUR 1 million, which is 80% of the total budget of EUR 1.25 million.
Another ongoing EU contribution supporting Namibia’s climate action is the Communal Land Development Programme, aiming at improved land based rural livelihoods through the development of communal lands and the integration of rural communities into the mainstream economy. Through securing land rights by individuals, investments are made in farm infrastructure to provide an improved physical environment for beneficiaries. The advisory services would then contribute towards development of economically viable farming practices by enhancing technical capacities of beneficiaries. This in return should increase farm productivity, strengthen market orientation of agricultural production and assist farmers to adopt sustainable land management practices, ultimately aiming at sustainable livelihoods and resilient farming communities.
The total cost of this Programme is EUR 29.05 million, with the EU contributing EUR 17.2 million.
Additionally, the EU provides further support towards Namibia’s climate action through the Promotion of Sustainable Forestry Management (SFM) in the Kavango-Zambezi (KAZA) region Project implemented by the Hans Seidel Foundation. The action aims to raise awareness, sensitise, support communication and build capacities among communities and various stakeholders on the importance of forestry resources in order to promote sustainable forestry management. The project idea emerged against the backdrop of unsustainable harvest of timber resources and rapid deforestation leading to accelerated destruction of forests in the northeast regions of Namibia in recent years. A standing forest acts as a carbon sink, as approximately 2.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, one-third of the CO2 released from burning fossil fuels, is absorbed by forests every year. Forests are a stabilising force for the climate. The implementation of SFM does not only combat the destruction of forestry resources; their loss also represents a massive loss of income for local communities. The total cost of this action is EUR 633 040, with the EU contributing EUR 506 000.
Please feel free to challenge us and go even further than us. Climate action can take place anywhere, at any level. There is no time left for inaction - the time for practical solutions is now, from the most basic to the most innovative.
*Sinikka Antila is the EU Ambassador to Namibia.