Any action, however small, can help achieve the bigger goal of a low-carbon and climate resilient economy – this must be the basic rule for making the Paris Agreement work and deliver, said Thomasz Chruszczow, High-Level Climate Champion, who is tasked by the UN to promote a wider engagement of civil society, local and regional authorities in the achievement of the Paris Agreement.
The Marrakech Partnership is an example of how bottom-up initiatives can help achieve top-down goals.
Opening the event, which had been organised jointly by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) and the Climate Chance Association, EESC Vice-President, Isabel Caño Aguilar, underlined the importance of the climate coalition which the EESC had established to mobilise, promote and support non-state climate actors:
The coalition aims to identify the barriers that limit non-state actors' role in climate change mitigation with the aim to propose policies and measures for an effective enabling framework.
Ronan Dantec said that synergies between state and non-state actors were needed. He continued:
It must be clear that non-state actors are not merely an adjunct. We are not here only to provide assistance. Non-state actors must be seen as equal partners to the state representatives.
EESC Member Mindaugas Maciulevicius referred to the large number of successful projects undertaken by SMEs, farmers, cooperatives, communities and civil society in general.
It is important to make the projects known, but also to spread knowledge in order to encourage more citizens to follow in the pioneers' footsteps he said.
I am counting in particular on young people. Youth buy-in and education are key to the transformation of our economy into a sustainable one.
CoR member Toby Biwer, Vice-Chair of the Commission for Environment, Climate Change and Energy of the European Committee of the Regions, issued the following warning:
We must reach the climate goals. This is not a question of choice, but a question of necessity. He called for progressive change, specifically in the area of financial instruments.
Yvon Slingenberg, Director International, Mainstreaming & Policy Coordination, gave her support to the actions undertaken by the EESC and announced that there will be a second part of the Talanoa Dialogue, which DG Clima will organise on 13 June 2018 with the participation of the Energy and Climate EC Commissioner, Mr Arias Cañete.
In the course of five different interactive workshops, participants discussed the following topics: assessment and tracking of non-state climate action; recognition of non-state climate action; improvement of governance; enabling conditions for action; the need to facilitate access to finance.
Summarising the conclusions of the different participatory workshops, EESC member Cillian Lohan said
The conclusion of today is that these small projects need more support - not only as regards financing - and today's event was a major step towards more citizen engagement in the fight against climate change. We will now summarize all the valuable proposals that have been worked out today and present this proposal at the COP24 in Katowice.
According to the EU-funded Toward European Societal Sustainability (TESS) project, if only 5% of EU citizens were engaged in effective community-led climate mitigation initiatives, the carbon savings would be sufficient for the EU-28 countries to achieve nearly 85% of their agreed 2020 emissions reductions targets.