On 5 June, World Environment Day, we all have a chance to stop and think about this incredible, precious planet on which we live. Here in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), we have both experienced the natural wonders, the rivers, mountains and lakes, which represent an invaluable resource for all the country’s citizens.
At the same time, we know that many of those same citizens are greatly concerned at the damage being done to this environment, the pollution in the air, the plastic in the rivers, the use of fossil fuels, and the lack of care by most of those in power. But there is no reason to be fatalistic about these challenges – BiH can, indeed it must, become a better example of protecting the natural world. Young people, those who will live longest with the consequences, are also the best advocates and champions of the need for a change of direction.
As the world starts to emerge and recover from the terrible pandemic, France and the UK are determined not to lose sight of the even bigger challenges ahead. There is no greater task in front of us than tackling climate change. The good news is that human kind has the capacity to do so.
In 2015 France hosted the UN Climate Change Conference, or COP21, which started to change our direction of travel. Thanks to huge efforts from the hosts, for the first time countries engaged really meaningfully on the steps needed to keep to global temperature rises to 1.5C, and set goals to meet that target. Succeeding in reaching that target needs even more effort now, and to halve global emissions by 2030. Failure to keep to 1.5C is not an abstract detail – missing it will mean hundreds of millions more people facing catastrophic environmental, economic, and social fallout.
So what happens next? The UK, as co-host with Italy of COP26 in Glasgow this November, wants to build on that Paris legacy, and keep the 1.5C target alive. The UK is arguing for all countries to invest in clean recoveries from the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with co-hosts Italy, and active partners like France, the UK is setting out four clear aims for Glasgow:
- All governments to commit to net zero targets, and interim goals on the way, so we can drive down emissions until they reach net zero by the middle of this century. Every country to take action to phase out polluting vehicles, ending coal power and coal financing. Big emitters must lead the way.
- Action to protect people and nature from the effects of climate change, by boosting adaptation ad responding to the risk of loss and damage.
- Donor countries must honour their commitment to mobilise $100billion a year to support developing countries. This includes development banks aligning with the Paris Agreement, and private investment supporting green recoveries, so every financial decision considers the impact on our environment.
- Working together, internationally, bringing academia, civil society and businesses alongside governments to find the best way forward. We are asking every business and financial institution to join the Race to Zero campaign. And we want to support the voice of the UN, and all of the climate change experts, who can help set the science-based targets to get us there.
France and the UK are committed to tackling climate change. Here in Bosnia and Herzegovina, we welcomed the country’s Nationally-Determined Contribution (NDC), recently submitted to the UN, which increased ambition, building upon Paris and looking ahead to Glasgow. But there is a great deal more to be done, at all levels of government, working together, to make sure decisions are not taken now which will hold back BiH’s contribution for years to come.
Our optimism in BiH comes from speaking to motivated and focused young people, who insist that a different, greener, and more sustainable path is possible. Today, World Environment Day, many of them will be out there, making a difference in their communities, standing up for the country and the planet. Let us support them, and make that same commitment to building a better future for all of us.
Blog post by Christine Toudic, Ambassador of France in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Matt Field, Ambassador of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Bosnia and Herzegovina.