Fighting every crisis. Climate action in Eastern partnership countries in times of pandemic.

The second part of the online conference «Climate Dialogue Across Sectors in the Eastern Partnership Countries” was held on 25 and 26 of May, bringing together governments, civil society and experts from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, and EU countries, to find better ways of increasing climate ambition during these difficult COVID pandemic times.

2020 is a crucial year when governments need to revise their climate targets, so humanity can stay on 1.5 degrees warming pathway and prevent catastrophic implications of global heating above that number. We can see that 105 countries – mainly small, developing economies representing 15% global GHGs – committed to enhance their climate ambition, including 45 African countries and small island nations. «Marshall Islands revised their target long time ago - in 2018 to send the message that they are ready to pay their fair share, are developing countries ready? Chile and Rwanda have submitted their NDCs in the middle of the health crisis, while other countries are using pandemic as an excuses to slow down climate action” - sais Noëmie Leprince-Ringuet from World Resource Institute.

In contrast, the countries of the Eastern Partnership and Russia used to have something in common: their lack of climate ambition. Nevertheless we can see good examples. From inclusive revision of climate targets in Ukraine and Georgia, to 100% renewable energy strategy in Kutaisi city, as Deputy Mayor Nino Tvaltvadze highlighted during the event.

But we are far away from reaching 1.5 climate goal in the Paris Agreement and this is where CSOs play a very important part.

“In January 2019 Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine created an ad hoc working group on climate target revision. It includes approximately 80 representatives of government agencies, non-governmental organizations, local communities, academia, and business. But there’s much work ahead” - said Iryna Stavchuk, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Energy and Environmental Protection of Ukraine.«We see a big decarbonisation role of cities. The Covenant of Mayors in Ukraine is a powerful movement numbering over 250 participants. Several Ukrainian cities have already announced a 100% transition to renewable energy by 2050”.

“Civil society has a crucial role on awareness raising” - sais Tania Marocchi, Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, EaP Index and Membership Manager.«Training government officials and polluting businesses. Environmental awareness is still very low. CSOs should use this difficult time to experiment, and think of different models for our societies“.

Sadly some countries have very little progress.
“In Russia, there is not even the first NDC yet submitted to the UNFCCC Secretariat after ratification. So there’s nothing to formally review” - says Georgiy Safonov from HSE’s Center of Environmental and Natural Resource Economics.«But the draft strategy until 2050 shows that only one (marginal) scenario can lead to a 33% reduction in emissions by 2050 (from 1990), and the main scenarios can lead to higher emissions above the INDC level”.

During the event the connecting between COVID pandemic crisis and climate crisis were also discussed, including common vision for just and fair recovery for all.

“After living through a common crisis like pandemic, I think, humanity might change it's way of looking at the climate crisis too. It is not competition, but we did undermine the seriousness of the climate change for a long time, and many governments were reluctant to act fast enough” - says Olga Boiko, Coordinator of CAN EECCA.«There are millions of people around the world from the civil society, governments, academia, media that need to stand for a just and green recovery of our world. Let's make sure we move forwards after this, not backwards.”

“During recovery from COVID crisis there will be a lot of money coming to all Eastern neighbourhood countries and CSOs need to make sure it goes to greener economy, circular economy, renewable energy, energy-efficiency and other things that will make our future better” - said Dr. Johannes Baur, Head of Sector for Economic Cooperation, Energy, Environment and Infrastructure at the Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine.

“We have to transform the society and our economy to meet the ambitious targets. Minor (or major) technologies are a false solution to the current multiple crisis- it's about rebuilding our way of living and rethink how we create value in our society” - said Severin Ettl, Project associate International climate policy BUND (Friends of the Earth Germany).

“There are strong links between the climate crisis, and social challenges: We must put ambitious climate policies in place, which help to decrease social gaps, and which protect the social achievements of the last decades. If we don’t act, global heating will drastically aggravate social injustice” - sais Sonja Schirmbeck, Policy officer Department of Central & Eastern Europe at Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES).

“There are simply no jobs on a dead planet.”

Author: Tatiana Shauro

Presentations can be found here

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