The EU and our partners around the world grasped the historic opportunity to secure an ambitious global climate deal in Paris in December 2015, setting the course for sustainable, low-carbon economies in the years to come.  

Since then, we have witnessed unprecedented commitment to global climate action: to date, the Paris Agreement has been signed by 194 Parties and ratified by 125. The EU has been at the centre throughout, with the Commission, the member states and the parliament acting decisively to approve ratification of the agreement and trigger entry into force less than a year after it was agreed.      

After the political breakthrough achieved in Paris, the world expected to see tangible action at the Marrakech climate conference in November and I am pleased to say we delivered.

We delivered on continued political commitment at the highest level, with the Marrakech Action Proclamation reaffirming leaders’ intentions to build on the momentum of the past year and turn our pledges into action. 

We delivered on a range of technical work that will guide the implementation of the Paris Agreement, including transparency of action and the process for reviewing our collective ambition over time. We also agreed that we should act swiftly to ensure the Paris rulebook is ready by 2018.          

We delivered on the commitments we have made to our most vulnerable partners, with progress on capacity building, loss and damage, funding for adaptation to deal with the impacts of climate change and long-term climate finance.  In 2015, the EU and its member states provided €17.6 billion for climate action in developing countries. We are, and always will be, a reliable partner in the fight against climate change.    

We can be proud of the role the European Union has played in tackling this critical global issue but there is no room for complacency. We have a lot of work ahead of us this year, such as following up on our 2030 legislative proposals as they move through parliament and council. 

And finally, we delivered on the real-world action we must take now, with the EU once again at the forefront of the Global Climate Action Agenda. The EU and its member states made a number of new commitments, including contributions to the G7’s InsuResilence initiative for increased access to climate-risk insurance for the most vulnerable. The EU also reaffirmed its leading role in supporting the African continent in the fight against climate change and in the promotion of renewable energies.

We live in uncertain political times – both in Europe and globally. Yet while it is too premature to comment on the new US administration’s climate policy, as the Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete, said, the message from Marrakech was clear: “We will stand by Paris, we will defend Paris, and we will implement Paris.”

I have been greatly encouraged to hear leaders from so many countries − including China, which is increasing its cooperation with the EU on climate and energy − reaffirm their intention to forge ahead with climate action. They recognise, as we do, that the transition to low-carbon economies is irreversible. We are already seeing global investment flows shifting to the sustainable, low-carbon sectors that will deliver the jobs and growth of the future.  

The EU experience has shown that strong action on climate change goes hand in hand with economic growth. We will continue to show climate leadership and support our partners in their efforts to reduce emissions, adapt to climate change, and transform their economies.  

We have been very busy on the domestic policy front. The Commission has proposed a package of measures to accelerate the shift to low-carbon emissions. This includes a proposal to reform the EU Emissions Trading System, and binding greenhouse gas emission targets for member states from 2021-2030 for the transport, buildings, agriculture, waste and land-use and forestry sectors. These policies are backed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments, as well as the 20 per cent of the EU budget allocated to climate action, to ensure the necessary financing is in place.  

The Clean Energy for All Europeans package, launched last November, cements the European Union’s leadership role in the clean energy transition. It will boost energy efficiency and renewables, modernise energy markets, keep Europe competitive and provide a good deal for consumers.     

We can be proud of the role the European Union has played in tackling this critical global issue but there is no room for complacency. We have a lot of work ahead of us this year, such as following up on our 2030 legislative proposals as they move through parliament and council. The Commission will also follow up on the low-emission mobility strategy presented last year, with initiatives to tackle emissions from road transport, and in particular cars, vans and trucks.

One thing is sure: the EU will continue to be the ambitious climate leader it was in Paris. We will continue to work closely with our international partners to drive the Paris spirit forward and implement this historic agreement on the ground.