COP 26 event on The Power of Localizing Collaborative Climate Action

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Dear Participants,

I would like to warmly welcome you to this side event that gathers the members of the Coalition on Multi-level and Multi-Stakeholder Climate Governance. It is always a pleasure to work with our colleagues and partners from Comité21, European Committee of the Regions, ECOLISE, ICLEI & OECD. I also take the advantage to thank the OECD and in particular Ms. Aziza Akhmouch for hosting all of us in the OECD COP26 Virtual Pavilion.

At the start of our coalition, around 2015, we agreed that the effectiveness of climate action is much higher when we act together. We worked on improving the cooperation and its output. We gave the cooperation sufficient means to deliver. We gathered and connected the right skills, and activated the right levers to amplify the efforts. That was key to implement climate action.

We agreed, it's essential to bring together all local actors willing to positively contribute to fight climate change. That includes businesses, workers, farmers, NGOs and citizens. To really join forces with all relevant partners, cooperation with public actors, notably the cities, regions and central governments is a must.

This cooperation is reflected in the name of our coalition.

Europe must and can set the example. However, climate change can only be successfully tackled if the rest of the world is joining us in our efforts.

Here I want to stress the top 20 emitters of CO2 are responsible for 78% of total global emissions.  Recent Climate Transparency Report says that CO2 will go up by 4% across the G20 group this year, having dropped 6% in 2020 due to the pandemic.  Looking at the countries China is the largest emitter of CO2 in the world responsible for 28% of the world’s total emissions. It is followed by the United States responsible for about 14% of the total global emissions.

Worrying trend is that use of coal across the G20 is projected to rise by 5% this year. China, India and the United States are all expected to show significant double digits rises in coal-fired generation in 2021.

This clearly demonstrate, we need to also engage the rest of the world to join the path towards a greener future. Organised civil society can play a crucial role in doing so.  We should not forget that a successful green transition first and foremost needs the support of our citizens. Living, working, producing and consuming energy in a different way calls for a major change in mentality. That needs to be underpinned by concrete measures to mitigate the social and economic effects that the transition could initially have on citizens.

To introduce our today's event, I would like to stress that the potential of local, cooperative climate action remains largely untapped by decision makers and financers. I see it as a missed opportunity and obviously huge potential!

Experience shows that community-led initiatives can drive the agenda forward and create an ecosystem of positive climate action.  Everyone has the power to become an actor of change! The great asset of such projects is that everyone learns from each other and inspires other people within and beyond their community.

In the EESC, we work on fostering a shift to a participatory model at all levels of scale to accelerate the transition to climate neutrality.  Ensuring active participation of all parts of society –– is an important way to enhance the yield of our climate action. We must include enterprises, workers, researchers, consumers, communities and citizens and their organisations alike.

The EESC is committed to mainstreaming this practice. We support the so-called Climate Pact that the European Commission launched in the mid of 2020. The Climate Pact is an EU-wide initiative inviting people, communities and organisations to participate in climate action by making concrete reduction pledges. In this context, the EESC proposes a European Climate Pact Stakeholder Platform. It should be based on the principles of inclusiveness, transparency and genuine participation of climate actors at all levels.

In addition, we strongly believe that youth still has an important role to play to make climate neutrality change happen. That is why we have been taking a series of measures to promote a more structured involvement of the youth in the decision-making. I want to mention the EESC delegation at COP26 also includes a youth delegate.

In all our efforts to achieve climate neutrality we cannot forget that bussiness should be seen as part of the solution. To encourage businesses and especially SMEs become greener, their potential for innovations must be stimulated.

To succeed in the green transition, we also have to focus on circular economy. Circular economy is fundamental for developing Europe's future economic model. We need to incentivise businesses, products and services which adhere to the principles of circularity, reuse and repair.

As you may already be aware, our Committee and the European Commission jointly set up a European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform. It is a European one-stop-shop for the circular economy community. It is a place for dialogue and a bridge between existing circular economy initiatives. In fact, the content comes from you, the stakeholders. The platform actively contributes to making the green transition a success for European businesses and citizens.

The EESC strongly believes that to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement, the EU urgently needs to develop the foundations for a sustainable and inclusive economy that works for everyone.

For this reason, the EESC repeatedly stressed that the European Green Deal must be Green AND SOCIAL Deal.

With this, I would like to conclude.

I wish you an inspiring and meaningful event!

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COP 26 event on The Power of Localizing Collaborative Climate Action