7-8 JUNE 2017 / Tour & Taxis / Brussels

Climate and development: Getting to zero poverty and zero emissions

Climate and development: Getting to zero poverty and zero emissions

Sharing best practices to jumpstart the implementation of the Paris Agreement

EDD16 - Replay - Climate and development: Getting to zero poverty & zero emissions

Wednesday, June 15, 2016 - 16:00 to 17:30

Key points

•    Additional resources needed for capacity building are only achievable through leveraging private finance.
•    Innovation will spread the benefits of moving to a green economy.
•    Only tackling climate change will prevent more people falling into poverty.
•    Climate change needs to inform all aid policy and geopolitical priorities.


Moderator Simon Maxwell, Chair of the European Think Tank Group focused the debate on whether optimism about moving to a green economy was failing to recognise that there would be losers as well as winners. 
Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete underlined that on the contrary, the scale of the challenge was fully appreciated. Citing suggested needs for trillions of dollars of investment in capacity building, he explained that the European Commission was considering extending the Juncker fund with an additional mechanism to cover the needs of developing countries that would leverage private finance.

Another area of concern is how developing countries will manage the dislocation of moving to a green economy. Cañete stressed that the Commission assesses it as a major revolution and sees the need to analyse the economic and social consequences. He suggested that, among others, pension funds will change their model for a future of decarbonising economies. However, he dismissed fears of a ‘0.1 % economy’ with only winners at the top, insisting that innovation will bring employment in developed and developing economies.
International Finance Corporation Director Stephanie J. Miller presented the view of the World Bank Group. She stated that it is not a question of whether zero poverty and zero emissions can be achieved, but an imperative. She warned that without an increase in the pace of dealing with climate change the world could see an additional 100 million people descending into poverty. 
She underlined the need to look at areas where there are co-benefits, such as a lower expenditure on energy, or climate-smart approaches such as in rice cultivation, where switching from flood irrigation reduces input costs and increases productivity. There are also positive trade-offs in climate driven fiscal policy, with studies indicating that if an energy tax is redistributed, 60 % of population can gain overall.
African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States Secretary General Patrick Ignatius Gomes said the organisation could not accept that climate change was treated as just one aspect of aid policy, not when it poses an existential threat to some of its member countries. He stressed the lack of clarity on how what was agreed to at the the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change COP21 in Paris will be implemented, on how precisely capacity building will be achieved, or, indeed, what the term really means. He called for a crosscutting approach so that funds can have a cumulative positive impact.
Young Leader on Climate Change Joselin Manzanares Nuñez spoke about her home country Nicaragua, which has not signed up to COP 21 as the agreement does not adequately recognise the needs of developed countries. Increasingly frequent and severe tropical storms and heat waves, she said, were having a devastating impact, with 103 out of 135 administrative areas suffering from drought. 
Teresa Ribera, Director of the Institut du Développement Durable et des Relations Internationales, questioned whether the EU was doing enough to match its commitments with help for developing countries to achieve the necessary preparedness and resilience. She wondered what really lies behind the international engagement to leave no one behind and whether the European External Action Service (EEAS) fully recognises the geopolitical priority of collaborating with those willing to tackle climate change and poverty.

Commissioner Cañete responded that the EU is already achieving its 2020 targets and is working on the difficult task of establishing national targets in its collective ambition for the future. He pointed out that input from the IPCC in 2018 will in delivering a full strategy to meet the 1.5° target. Regarding Nicaragua, he emphasised that developing countries also have responsibilities, notably in renewable energy and energy efficiency. He praised the World Bank’s approach to assessing needs and facilitating actions as a way to leave no one behind. He concluded by underlining that with a global commitment from almost everyone Paris is major achievement on which to build;


Being offered a 1.5° t-shirt by a group of attendees from CARE International gave Commissioner Cañete an opportunity to reiterate his support for the target.

Organised by

    Simon Maxwell
    European Think Tanks Group (ETTG)
    Joselin Manzanares Nuñez
    Young Leader - Climate Change
    Patrick Ignatius Gomes
    Secretary General
    ACP Group
    Miguel Arias Cañete
    Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy
    European Commission
    Stephanie J. Miller
    Director, Western Europe
    International Finance Corporation
    Teresa Ribera
    Institut du Développement Durable et des Relations Internationales
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