Dear Ambassador Woods,
Thank you so much for having devoted your New Year’s reception to our common commitment towards the COP26 in Glasgow.
I feel myself privileged to stand by you, and our Embassy will be happy to join efforts with yours to enhance our mutual public outreach in Germany.
We are both aware that in the next semester Germany will hold the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, shaping the EU position also in the daunting task of agreeing on a new Nationally Determined Contribution of the European Union, while taking into account its financial dimension in the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027.
In the run-up to pre-COP in Milan and the COP26 in Glasgow, a joint public outreach by our Embassies is needed, both in Berlin and in Germany as a whole. Today is a starting point of our joint activities, which will unfold during the European Sustainable Development Week and in the months ahead.
I was struck by your remarks about the United Kingdom leaving the European Union. You left the EU ten days ago, but you will never leave the European family, especially as regards the global issues, which are the cornerstone of your multilateral action.
In the last decades, Italian and British Sherpas and climate negotiators have been shoulder-to-shoulder in countless long days and long nights of negotiation, to make sure that each and every Summit was a step forward, and not a step back, in driving ambitious climate action.
In 2003, during its six-month Presidency of the European Union, Italy held in Milan the COP9, which was instrumental in developing an international climate regime by preparing for the Kyoto Protocol’s entry into force.
The UK Delegation was at that time supportive of the efforts of the Italian Chairmanship. The United Kingdom was also essential in shaping the launch phase of the Green Diplomacy Network, after the decision, taken in June 2003 by the Thessaloniki European Council, to create an informal network of Foreign Service officials to promote the integration of environmental issues into external relations.
Also in the G7 and G8 Summits, the United Kingdom has a solid record of accomplishment in climate action. The Gleaneagles G8 Summit in 2005 was the first multilateral Summit to recognise the issue of climate fragility in African Sahel and in other semi-arid regions, and decided to set up a Dialogue on Climate Change, which laid the foundations for several multilateral fora in the years ahead, including the Major Economies Forum.
Eight years later, at their Summit in Lough Erne (Lack Ern), G8 Leaders agreed for the first time that a new Protocol or other agreed outcome with legal force and “applicable to all parties” was to be adopted by 2015 and to come into effect from 2020, thus paving the way to what would have become the Paris Climate agreement.
In 2021, our respective G7 and G20 Presidencies will again be back-to-back in taking the climate agenda forward. However, to do so, 2020 must remain the “year of ambition”, and every Country will have to do its best in the fight against climate change:
The scientific data call for it, the extreme weather events call for it, the public opinion calls for it, our children call for it.
Italy is at the forefront of driving ambitious climate action. Domestically, it has successfully decoupled economic growth from greenhouse emissions, fulfilled the EU targets for 2020 and committed to phase-out unabated coal power by 2025.
In December last year, our Climate Decree introduced a wide array of incentives, including a € 255 million clean mobility bonus, a € 90 million package of measures for Municipalities involved in urban reforestation and sustainable mobility projects, and the insertion of environmental education in primary, secondary and high schools. Italy is also among the leading EU countries in renewables, with a share of energy from renewable sources of 18% and of 40% in electricity gross production.
Italy, in its action to combat climate change, has traditionally had at heart the concepts of participation and inclusion in the decision-making process, especially as regards younger generations.
We believe that cohesion and coherence are key assets for our credibility in striving for a successful CoP26: our action encompasses the public as well as the private sector.
Indeed, our energy companies are renowned global champions in abating emissions, also in the “hard to abate” traditional sectors, and have by far anticipated the current trend by developing leadership in renewables.
We will be proud to host in Milan the preparatory events leading towards the COP26 in Glasgow. In addition to the pre-COP, we will also plan to host beforehand a significant “Youth Event” aiming to facilitate an active participation of young people towards the “pre-COP” negotiations, as well as an outreach event with our African partners.
During the Climate Summit at the UN General Assembly in September, the Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte said: “Italy intends to play a leading role in the global fight against climate change. We owe it to all the young people who are making their voices heard”. Indeed we do.
In recent years, what we used to consider as extreme weather has become the new normal. It is hard even to turn on the news without hearing about a particularly devastating storm, a drought, a flood, or a wildfire.
Last November, the second highest and longest “Acqua Alta” in its modern history hit Venice, causing a devastating damage of hundreds million euro. Some of these extreme events which we used to experience once every 500 years, have now become once every 25 years or even more frequently.
We are not just responsible to ourselves. We are responsible to the future, and our kids and our grandkids will surely ask how we, together, could possibly have been so blind that we failed to deal with phenomena confirmed by so many scientists in so many studies over such a long time, and documented by so many evidences. Therefore, this brings me to the last point that I want to stress:
In Glasgow, in December, we need to agree on the post-2020 framework of the Paris Agreement. It means that it has to be an agreement that endures. That means it must get stronger over time.
In 2015, the world community did not come to Paris to build a ceiling that contains all that we ever hope to do; it came to Paris to build a floor on which we can and must – all of us together – continue to build.
The COP26 will take place in Glasgow. A famous Glaswegian author, Edwin Morgan, wrote in his poem “Grey”:
“Let’s leave the window, and write. No need to wait for a fine blue to break through. We must live, make do”. Indeed, we cannot wait forever for a “fine blue” to take action.
Our task is clear. Our moment is now. Let us get this job done.
Thank you very much.