5 Sep 2013

EU Climate Commissioner says island states' impatience understandable

4:45 pm on 5 September 2013

The European Union's Commissioner for Climate Action, Connie Hedegaard say the Pacific Islands states recognise that the EU is making substantial progress in cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Speaking in Majuro during the Pacific Islands Forum summit, where the focus is on climate change, she told our correspondent, Giff Johnson that the EU, having achieved its initial goal, is now focusing on targets beyond 2020.

CONNIE HEDEGAARD: I think what I have heard here is a very big recognition by the island states that Europe is actually reducing, we are actually delivering. We have a target of 20% of emissions in 2020, compared to 1990. We are very much on track to achieve it. We will actually overshoot it. That is how it looks at this point. But not only that, we have sort of moved on, so now we have started the debate around what should be our targets for 2030. In Europe we have an economic crisis. Some people think 'Why are they talking about 2030?' But we are talking about energy investments, for instance. You have to think for the longer term. It's really long-term investments. So it means a lot to the investment community that they already very soon will know what can they count on, not just for 2020, but what comes after 2020.

GIFF JOHNSON: You've been in the climate change panel, you're talking with leaders here, you're getting obviously a very strong message from the leaders on climate change. Now you'll head back to Europe. What will you feed back into the EU in your meetings and conversations post-Forum in the coming weeks and months?

CONNIE HEDEGAARD: I would say the sense of urgency is very, very clear and visible when you're here. Just when you land in your plane you can see why these states are getting very impatient. Europe is also impatient. So I think that's one of the key impressions that I will convey in the further climate talks - time is running out, the world must get its act together. And those who are most vulnerable and most exposed are getting very, very impatient for very good reasons. And then I noticed last night at the opening our Marshallese host had this very clear sentence, I think. He said to the major economies that so far have not wanted to commit in any binding form, he said, 'If we can do it, you can do it, too'. And that's where I think it's quite impressive in this region to see states, despite all the difficulties and the limitations, actually starting to make the energy transition. They have not created the climate problem. They are not the big culprits. They know that each of us have to do whatever we can to the best of our capabilities. And there I think the island states set a moral example that will make it more difficult for some of the big ones to say, 'Well, we are not ready to set up targets or commit pledges yet. It's too early'. If many of these countries can do it. countries with a very, very big administrative system, they can also do it.