Environment ministers of the V4, Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine signed in Poland a joint declaration on climate change and biodiversity

Environment ministers of the V4, Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine signed in Poland a joint declaration on climate change and biodiversity

Environment ministers of the Visegrad Group countries, Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine discussed on 3 - 4 October in the Polish Trzcianka and Tuczno issues relating to climate change and biodiversity. At the meeting, where the Czech Republic was represented by Deputy Minister Vladislav Smrž, representatives of the particular ministries signed a declaration on a joint procedure of the participating countries in fulfilling the commitments arising from the Paris Agreement, in particular the greenhouse gas emission reduction and approach to nature and biodiversity protection according to the principles of sustainable development.

The Paris Agreement leaves its parties considerable freedom in how they will meet their commitments. Countries of Central and Eastern Europe have the opportunity to share their experience and coordinate their positions so that the adopted policies and measures to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and carbon storage are as efficient as possible. Ratification of the Paris climate agreement was supported on 30 September 2016 at the Environment Council of the EU by ministers of the EU countries [1].

"This advancement towards completing the ratification by the European Union is crucial in my opinion. Thanks to the intensive efforts of the EU Member States and of a number of other countries in the world, it is likely that the agreement will enter into force already before the 22nd meeting of the parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which will take place on 7 - 18 November 2016 in Morocco. It is essential that the European Union is involved in the important negotiations from the outset and participates in the decision making on the rules for implementation of the Paris Agreement. The decision of the Environment Council will allow the EU, and thus the Visegrad Group countries, not to remain only as observers," Deputy Minister Vladislav Smrž, who represented the Czech Republic at the meeting of the V4 ministers in Poland, summarises the progress in ratification of the Agreement. The subject of discussion among the representatives of the ministries of V4, Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine as an observer was the proposal of a package of measures to speed up the transition towards a low-carbon economy in Europe, published on 20 July 2016 by the European Commission, which contains legislative proposals of a regulation on binding emission reductions outside the EU ETS in the period 2021-2030, so called ESR (Effort Sharing Regulation), and inclusion of the LULUCUF sector [2] in the framework for the climate and energy policy up to 2030 as a separate pillar which should enhance the effectiveness of implementing the commitments by the individual EU Member States.

"We expect from the reform of the EU ETS mainly an overall streamlining of the system in its next trading period (2021-2030). The current setup has failed to respond to unexpected economic fluctuations and their implications. The Czech Republic considers the EU ETS a key instrument for achieving Europe's climate targets. In general, we therefore support such settings and measures of the EU ETS, which will ensure a sufficient price signal that will encourage industrial businesses to invest in low-carbon technologies. But at the same time, these measures must not compromise the competitiveness of European industry," says Deputy Smrž.

Another topic the ministers discussed was support for biological diversity. "From the point of view of the Czech Republic, the biggest problem is biodiversity protection mainstreaming, i.e. its integration into the other sectors, and insufficient awareness of the importance of biodiversity and ecosystem services for sustainable development of the society. This situation should be improved, inter alia, by the updated Biodiversity Protection Strategy of the Czech Republic 2016-2025 [3]," Deputy Smrž comments on the content of the joint declaration of the ministers, adding that nature protection and biological diversity should not be seen as a factor constraining economic and social development, but as a basic element of development policies at national, regional and global level. This approach also reflects the principles of sustainable development, and is also in accordance with the UN objectives of sustainable development, which were adopted in 2015 [4].

Notes:

[1] For more information on the Environment Council and on the ratification of the Paris Agreement by the European Union see that link.

[2] LULUCF: Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry.

[3] The Czech government approved the Biodiversity Protection Strategy of the Czech Republic 2016-2025 on 9 March 2016. It is a document that should be, according to Article 6 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (the Convention, Rio de Janeiro, 1992), the main strategic material on biodiversity protection of each contracting party to the Convention.

[4] For more information on the adoption of sustainable development goals (SDGs) see that link.

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