We are not on track to meet climate change commitments - Levits at UN Climate Change Conference

  • 2021-11-02
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - In his statement at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) World Leaders Summit in Glasgow, President Egils Levits said that countries should concentrate not only on working toward limiting climate change, but also on adaptation.

"It has been six years since we all took up commitments in Paris. We know we are not on track to meet them," said Levits, as Justine Deicmane from the President's Chancery informed LETA.

There is no time to lose. Keeping the 1.5 degree Celsius target within reach is a must. It is the minimum that COP26 should deliver, Levits emphasized.

Latvia is no exception in experiencing the increasing effects of climate change, Levits pointed out. With almost 500 kilometers of coastline, we are keenly aware of coastal erosion risks. Extreme climate-related incidents in Europe are becoming more common.

"Latvia contributes only 0.02 percent of world greenhouse gas emissions, yet we will uphold our commitments in this field - at the national level, within the EU and in the UN framework. Mitigation efforts are urgently needed. This is the common task of national governments, international organizations, public and private sectors, our societies. Each individual is a crucial stakeholder," the president emphasized.

National constituencies must be convinced that "going green" can bring greater prosperity and security. A new mindset is required. Changes in our behavior and a transition to a green economy are in the long-term interest of humankind, believes Levits.

"All too often support for climate-friendly policies is in words only. To a certain extent I observe this in my country, too. We like to believe we are naturally 'green-minded'. True, a high percentage of Latvia's energy mix comes from renewables. More than half of our land is covered by forest. Our greenhouse gas emissions per capita have decreased by more than a third since 1990. Yet I often meet resistance to pro-active steps that would decrease our reliance on fossil fuels. There is still much to be done, especially in the fields of energy, transport and agriculture," said Levits.

Necessary changes may create social challenges. Certain individuals, groups and nations will in the short and medium term suffer losses. The concerns of those who mistrust and refuse to accept the climate agenda must be answered, Levits pointed out.

In order to promote reform, it is necessary to create mechanisms which would at least partially off-set their losses. Crucially, such mechanisms need to be backed by adequate resources. Greater interaction between science and business is also urgently needed. Scaling up of investments in green technologies is key to sustainable growth, believes Levits.

"A robust framework of rules to ensure environmental integrity of the system and promote ambition must be an outcome of this COP26. This includes rules on transparency, as well as on markets," said Levits.