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The aim of the Generation Brexit blog is give voice to British and European millennials in the Brexit debate.

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Notwithstanding Brexit, European politicians must remain committed to fighting climate change and making our planet great again

Posted by Roch Dunin-Wąsowicz (Admin) 9 months ago

 Notwithstanding Brexit,  European politicians must remain committed to fighting climate change and making our planet great again. Kaschayar Javadi, Joséphine Siou and Benjamine Laurin write about the significance of the recent One Planet summit, following US' withdrawal from the Paris Agreement in late 2017. 

On Tuesday 12th December 2017, two years after the COP21, fifty world leaders reunited to find new ways to fund the climate agreements after the US' withdrawal.The main challenge for the application of COP21 is arguably to provide incentives for different participants to take actions and comply with the different features of the agreement, by applying and supporting new environmental policies. Reuniting the participants of COP21 without one of the worst polluters of the planet, namely the US, appears as an ambitious project, which needs to be scrutinised to understand the credibility of the treaty for a “greater planet again” regarding changes in environmental behaviour. Scepticism is not a solution, but the question remains to be asked whether the objective of COP21 will be attained one day.

The « One Planet summit » is the initiative of French President Macron, who was boasting about his new formula « Make our planet great again », as a response to Trump’s campaign slogan. Today he might be feeling lonely at the White House, as around fifty heads of state, from the British Prime Minister Theresa May to the Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto are engaging in negotiations, to overcome the worrisome phenomenon of climate change. This summit highlights the diversity of actors in the fight against climate change, as more than fifty key stakeholder representatives, like entrepreneurs, investors, NGO, local actors and scientists, were also present through roundtable discussions to find incentives to mobilise public and private climate finance.

During the summit, only leaders who had real examples of commitment to announce were invited to speak. In fact, the outcomes of the agreement only depend on the development of concrete actions. Although the second largest CO2 producers after China have withdrawn from Paris’ agreements, actions that need to be taken to ensure the threshold of the 2° (rapidly sledging toward the 3°), will cost the extensive amount of $100 billion per year from now to 2030, as most of the inefficient energy infrastructure will also need to be replaced. After Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement, as he considered it to be an economic threat towards its country, and he only delegated the task to an embassy advisor, a series of leaders and billionaires such as Michael Bloomberg, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Leonardo DiCaprio and the State of Oregon have stood out in favour of the COP21.

Erik Solheim, the head of the United Nations’ Environment Programme (UNEP), delivered a speech at the UNEP’s 3rd assembly in Nairobi to ensure climate matters and especially pollution gets on the top of political agenda, including in the business world. In fact, the lack of political concerns is seen as a real threat to the achievement of the objectives especially set for climate change mitigation. There is divergence at many levels across countries, as developing countries depend on leading developed countries. The goal of the “One Planet summit”, as high-level political meeting, is to create the strongest political momentum, by finding common ways to strengthen public policies on socio-ecological transition. This summit is to be part of a dynamic international process, following other international events on climate change.

A recent study based on three independent European research groups show that the commitment to CO2 emissions restrictions in India and China is most likely to offset US withdrawal and that climate change might even be less severe than expected. These findings shed a positive light on the international scene of climate change and that there is a chance in the upcoming years for us to make our planet great again.

However, to fulfil that very promising objective of making the planet great again, European politics certainly need to begin to ignite many environmental reforms. Besides positive incentives, the EU needs to focus on a few pain points in its landscape. The classic example would be the Tihange Nuclear Power Station. Its closing down has been at the centre of the recent environmental policy debates in Europe. Closing the reactor and many other hotly contested constructions would show a credible commitment to making the planet great again and would be a good starting point.

The “One Planet Summit” is essential for coming together again in the completion of the objectives of COP21. This event also recalls that every new environmental measure needs to be justified and that the conditions for “a great again” planet rely on risk-sharing. However, this uncontrollable urge to multiply summit-meetings is not a healthy sign for the process of climate negotiations. Many announcements and commitments were made, which will need to be followed up to assess whether the incremental approach of the COP21 is efficient or not.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Generation Brexit blog, nor the LSE.

Joséphine Siou, Kaschayar Javadi and Benjamine Laurin are MSc Students at the LSE European Institute. 

This post was edited on Mar 20, 2018 by Roch Dunin-Wąsowicz

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