The Malta Independent 11 August 2022, Thursday

Heading in the right direction

Sunday, 28 November 2021, 09:19 Last update: about 9 months ago

Frans Timmermans

Fourteen days after COP26, we can look back on what two weeks of tough negotiations brought the world and future generations.

There are areas where the EU would have liked more ambition. Yet we must also be realistic: the climate crisis cannot be solved overnight or in a single conference. It requires constant effort. That’s what makes it so difficult. There is no quick fix, no single law or technology that can save our planet. It takes all of us, and it takes time – time for measures to have effect and time which is running out fast.


The Glasgow Climate Pact is a solid agreement. It brings the goals of the Paris Agreement within reach. We can now implement the deal struck six years ago, with new momentum and a sharper focus on ambitious emissions cuts than before. This is clear progress.

We have a global consensus on the need to limit climate change to 1.5 degrees. Before Glasgow, the mantra was still ‘below 2 degrees’, and some countries even challenged that. But science has won the argument, and the change we already see in front of our eyes has convinced everyone of the need to aim high, and keep temperature rise low.

So we are heading in the right direction. But even if all the promises and pledges already made are fully implemented, the world would still be on track for warming of around 2 degrees. And that’s too high. It’s one reason why countries whose climate plans are not aligned with the 1.5 degrees goal will have to update them next year. 

In Glasgow, the world also agreed to phase down coal and fossil fuel subsidies. There is some disappointment around this agreement, because a last-minute language change was necessary to get everyone on board and we could not find consensus on phasing out coal. But changing a word does not change the signal: the era of coal is ending and Glasgow acknowledged this reality.

We completed the ‘Rulebook’ for the Paris Agreement. It makes sure countries report on their emissions in the same way, within the same timeframe. With the Rulebook, we can develop international carbon markets, which will help to boost investments across borders in emission reducing technologies and carbon storage.

Our climate action is an investment, not a cost. Because climate change will have devastating financial impacts if we cannot tame it. For some, it already has, and developing countries need our support. Over a third of all global climate finance comes from the EU and its Member States; we are doing our share, and more. But there is more to do, and the developed world needs to engage in all sincerity with the countries on the front line.

Overall, while Glasgow helped to put global efforts on track, we are not yet traveling fast enough. European leadership is necessary to keep pushing other major emitters to follow through on their commitments. After all, it has effect: since the EU first laid down its ambition for climate neutrality, the US, China, Japan, India, Russia, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and others have all announced targets of their own and 90% of the global economy is now on track for net zero.

We should now focus on getting our ‘Fit for 55’ legislation adopted ahead of next year’s COP. If the EU has the measures in place to deliver at least 55% emissions reductions by 2030, it will increase the pressure on others to show they can do it too.

We have a lot of work ahead of us, and it won’t be easy. But it is a path we must walk – for the sake of our children, our grandchildren, and for ourselves. The climate crisis is already with us. And if we work together with speed and determination, we can still tackle it.

Frans Timmermans is Executive Vice-President of the European Commission

These issues and how Malta can play its part towards carbon neutrality will be discussed during a webinar organised by the Malta Business Bureau and the European Commission Representation in Malta in collaboration with The Malta Independent and the Enterprise Europe Network. The event, entitled, Towards Carbon Neutrality will focus on the role of energy and transport, as well as Malta’s readiness in meeting the EU climate objectives. For more information and registration visit


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