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INTERVIEW / Peter Schmidt (Eesc):

INTERVIEW / Peter Schmidt (Eesc): "The EU must be a leader at Cop27. We are on the right track with Fit for 55"

The President of Agriculture, Rural Development and the Environment (NAT) section explains the position of the European Economic and Social Committee at the UN Climate Change Conference, as part of the EU delegation: "A significant agreement would be a success"

Brussels – On Sunday 6 November, the opening session of the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Cop27) will be held in Sharm el-Sheikh (Egypt), and the European Union delegation is ready to participate in the most important meeting of the year for the fight against climate change. From 12 to 18 November, six members of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) Ad Hoc Group for Cop will also take part in the Conference, to strengthen and boost the EU climate ambitions with international partners beyond the limited progress of Cop26 Glasgow. “A significant agreement would be a success”, Peter Schmidt, President of the section Agriculture, Rural Development and the Environment (NAT) of the EESC and member of the Cop27 delegation, explained in an interview with Eunews: “In this process, the EU has to be an ambitious leader”.

What will be the role of the European Economic and Social Committee in Cop27?

Peter Schmidt: “We have already participated in the previous Conferences and we learnt how it works. We also increased the number of delegation members and set our ambitions in a Resolution on the implementation of ambitious climate action at Cop27. We adopted the Resolution almost unanimously last week and I am satisfied with the specific demands. In Sharm el-Sheikh we will have to implement four key messages and to influence decision makers, because everyone needs to make more progress”.

What will you focus your attention on?

Peter Schmidt: “First of all we need to raise our ambitions for a just transition, both at national and EU level. And then, we need a clear language. If we have to change the way we produce and consume – which has social implications – we need a different way of expressing ourselves. We also need the contribution of civil society, because if it is not involved, this process cannot succeed”.

In what respect?

Peter Schmidt: “There are some so-called populist movements in the Member States that argue the need for a green transition and deny climate change. This is why the process cannot be only political, and a mechanism to involve civil society must be put in place. This process should also involve developing countries, we have to make sure that the fight against climate change does not leave anyone behind and that everyone is involved”.

Are there any concerns for the European Green Deal goals, with the Russian war in Ukraine?

Peter Schmidt: “We wrote it in our Resolution: we are in the middle of the war, it is clear that urgent actions are needed to face its consequences on the energy level. But derogations can only be accepted for a limited period of time, the objectives of the European Green Deal cannot be jeopardized, nor abandoned”.

Do you think that the position of the EU delegation at Cop27 will be weakened by the fact that only one agreement of the Fit for 55 package has been reached by now?

Peter Schmidt: “No, I do not think that the EU position will be weakened. We are on the right track, maybe not as foreseen, it is true, and it will take time to agree on all the files. But the process has been established and there is no escape from it. This is why the EU delegation can still hold leadership, like we saw last year in Glasgow”.

Considering the international scenario, do you think that the new Presidency in Brazil can have a positive impact on the protection of the Amazon?

Peter Schmidt: “I think that the situation in the Amazon depends closely on what happens in the European Union, we are connected. During the last years, Europe has reduced the percentage of farmland and delegated the food production to other countries, especially in Latin America. Now we have to think in a circular way, finding a balance in trade and setting standards together”.

In your opinion, what are the major criticality at the Cop27?

Peter Schmidt: “We will have to be more ambitious and overcome the particular interests of Member States and multinationals, which have nothing to do with climate challenges. Another problem is the fact that this process is non-binding. But in any case, I want to emphasize that dialogue is crucial, it is the only way to achieve results, otherwise the whole process would disappear”.

Coming back from Sharm, what will be considered a success by EESC at Cop27?

Peter Schmidt: “Reaching a significant agreement, like the adoption of the 2030 Agenda and on climate change in 2015. Since the election of the former US President, Donald Trump, it has been increasingly difficult to reach international agreements. If we will be able to do it in Sharm el-Sheikh, it will be a success”.