Slovenian environment minister: Climate summit key step for Earth’s future

Andrej Vizjak, Slovenia's Minister for the Environment. [Copyright: European Union]

The COP26 climate conference is a crucial step for the future of our planet and younger generations, Slovenian Environment Minister Andrej Vizjak said at Monday’s press conference in Glasgow, UK. “It is time we act responsibly and move up from good intentions to concrete actions,” he added.

Vizjak held the COP26 briefing, which was also live-streamed, along with European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans.

Slovenia plays an important role at the summit since it represents the EU and coordinates the member states’ views as the country holding the EU presidency.

Vizjak noted that decision-makers in Glasgow were deciding on the future of Earth, adding that the world should start implementing concrete measures to meet the target of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“We will succeed if we are united and work together – the whole world, all countries and all stakeholders. At the same time, we should ensure that our actions do not threaten social cohesion and economic development and that we help developing countries,” he said.

The minister sees the measures as an opportunity for economic and social progress. He urged all parties to the 2015 Paris Agreement to strive to mitigate climate change and step up their efforts to adapt to climate change.

Vizjak called for allocating $100 billion per year in climate aid to developing countries, saying that currently, some 85% of the sum was achieved in these countries, but soon they could deliver on the rest as well.

The EU and its member states provide the greatest share of public climate funding to help developing countries globally, said the Environment Ministry in a press release, adding that in 2019, the sum totalled EUR 21.9 billion.

Timmermans, the commissioner for climate action and European Green Deal, said that negotiators and countries participating in COP26 still had a lot of work to do, noting the EU’s stance that ambitious targets only count as long as they are backed by concrete measures.

He highlighted the issue of compensation for losses and damages resulting from climate change as “an issue of great importance”. The EU supports the improvement of the system of assistance in the event of natural disasters by strengthening the Santiago network, he said.

The ministry singled out Article 6 of the Paris climate accord as one of the critical open issues discussed at COP26. The article refers to cooperation mechanisms, including international transfer of mitigation results, transparency, adjustment and a common time frame for countries’ contributions.

Both Vizjak and Timmermans also fielded reporters’ questions mainly about the role of different energy sources in a carbon-free future.

Vizjak underlined an unequal level playing field between member states, saying that some were heavily dependent on coal, others not at all, some pursued nuclear power as a solution, others would use natural gas as a transitional solution.

Timmermans and Vizjak agreed that hydrogen could play an essential role in the future. The commissioner said that biomass should be part of the EU’s future energy mix.

The second part of the COP26 conference has begun, and the momentum built up by heads of state and government last week is expected to be maintained by ministers in charge of environment and climate change.

Experts meanwhile warn that countries are still far from reaching a consensus on many issues at the start of the last week of the summit.

[Edited by Alice Taylor]

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