Minister Mansveld: broad global participation crucial to new climate agreement

This week, Minister Wilma Mansveld (The Environment) is attending the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 19) in Warsaw. She is the representative of the Netherlands in the European Union (EU) delegation. At the summit, the EU is negotiating on behalf of all its member states.

Among other things, the conference in Warsaw is aimed at setting down a new global climate agreement in 2015. This  agreement will apply in the period after 2020 when the current Kyoto protocol lapses. Under that protocol, thirty nations (including the Netherlands and other EU member states)  have an obligation to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Broad global participation is crucial if climate change is to be tackled effectively and to ensure that global warming remains under  2 ºC, according to Minister Mansveld.

Ms Mansveld is therefore advocating a climate agreement in which all countries will participate after 2020. According to the Minister, this requires a dynamic and flexible framework so that adjustments can be made easily if conditions in a country change. This is very complex at the moment under the Kyoto protocol. “Once everyone is on board, we can raise our ambitions,” according to Ms Mansveld.

The climate is already changing due to global warming and societies need to be able to be protected against the consequences – rising sea levels, drought, extreme weather and health risks from new diseases. The Minister therefore believes that adapting to the consequences of climate change should be an important component of the new agreement. During the summit, the Netherlands is therefore holding several meetings in which the focus is on adapting to climate change. The Netherlands can assist other countries based on its knowledge of and experience in managing water and the environment.

Developing countries, especially the poorest, need support in tackling climate change. Developed countries agreed earlier to ensure that from 2020, 100 billion dollars would be made available annually for climate activities in developing countries. The funds will have to come from various sources: via public money and via private investments, for example by companies. The exact form this climate funding should take is also an important theme of the conference.

Prior to 2020, additional action is needed worldwide, also from those countries that have not yet stated what they are going to do to reduce their emissions. The Netherlands therefore supports additional initiatives, like the banning of hydrofluorocarbons, or ‘super greenhouse gases’, that are used in cooling installations and air conditioning units, for example.

Young Dutch people were able to provide their input at the Climate Change Summit via Minister Mansveld. In a video message they called for the contribution of creative ideas and tips; anything that can help to tackle climate change. The UN Youth Ambassadors showed the video at schools and universities right across the country. In Warsaw, they handed over the ideas that resulted from this campaign to the Minister.