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Frans Timmermans: “The gamble is on the fate of coal”


Face of the European Green Pact, the executive vice-president of the European Commission in charge of climate, Frans Timmermans welcomes in an interview for euronews, the progress of the COP26 while acknowledging the setbacks made to obtain a final agreement.

Méabh Mc Mahon, euronews:

“At COP26 in Glasgow, you showed the photo of your one year old grandson Kees. You’ve struck a chord, it seems, because your initiative has gone viral. I guess you were trying to show that technocrats can be human too. At the time of your intervention at the plenary session of COP26, you indicated: “Kees will be 31 in 2050. If we fail today or in the next two years, he will have to fight with other human beings for food and water. That’s the harsh reality in which we are facing. “ Do you think Kees will be satisfied with the outcome of COP26? “

Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of climate:

“I don’t think so. We still have a lot of work ahead of us. But what I tried to do was show that it’s personal for each of us. It’s not just personal. for me and my grandson. We all have loved ones, children or family members who will suffer the consequences of the climate crisis if we do not address it. “

“We have been more ambitious than many countries expected”

Méabh Mc Mahon:

“At COP26, there was no deal yet on Saturday. Tell us what was really going on behind the scenes at that time.”

Frans Timmermans:

“I believe it is always difficult to reach a comprehensive agreement at a COP. But this time around we were more ambitious than many countries expected and it took a bit of time. for everyone to take the plunge. In particular, the terms used by the UK Presidency on coal were a bit too strong for some producing countries, so we had to rephrase them while maintaining a high level of ambition, but using different words. But the fact remains that the game is on the fate of coal. And that is the most important. “

Méabh Mc Mahon:

“We saw the president of COP26, Alok Sharma moved when he spoke of a “fragile victory”. “

Frans Timmermans:

“Yes, he was moved because of the last minute surprises from several countries which suddenly did not want to approve the final result. So very quickly we had to work with these countries to find solutions. and luckily we succeeded. “

“The EU has put more money on the table for adaptation and loss and damage”

Méabh Mc Mahon:

“Why is the European Union reluctant to create a loss and damage financing system for countries that will be hit by climate change but have not caused it?”

Frans Timmermans:

“Among the developed countries, no one is doing more for adaptation and loss and damage than the European Union. We have pushed other developed countries to put more money on the table. On our side, we are doing it. already for loss and damage and we did it for the adaptation fund. So we are leaders on this issue, but we still have to do a lot more because we are talking about the trillions needed to prepare the planet for what in reality is already happening, namely climate change. “

“We have a plan to reduce our emissions by at least 55% by 2030”

Méabh Mc Mahon:

“While you were in the COP26 building, activists were outside asking the EU which side it is on, namely fossil fuels or climate justice. you ?”

Frans Timmermans:

“We are in the camp of climate justice, but also in that of the gradual abandonment of fossil fuels. The objective of reducing these energies was included in the final declaration. This had never happened before. plus, we have the policies to move in that direction. We are the only entity in the world with a plan to reduce our emissions by at least 55% by 2030. Many other countries have now said that they were going to achieve carbon neutrality in 2050, but they don’t yet have concrete plans to do so. We do. “

Méabh Mc Mahon:

“Is your action plan really supported? Do you think your legislative package “Adjustment to goal 55” will be adopted before COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh? “

Frans Timmermans:

“I hope so. We still have a lot of work ahead of us. The package will not be fully adopted by then, but I hope we will have reached the point of no return by then. accession of the European Parliament and the Council where all Member States are present to the package as a whole. It would be extremely important to achieve this before COP 27. “

“Some countries need natural gas as a transitional energy source”

Méabh Mc Mahon:

“On euronews, we talked about rising energy prices. Now companies that produce gas claim to make billions more in profits. Let me ask you why the European Commission is encouraging what it calls “new gas projects of common interest”. And will you agree to Nord Stream 2? “

Frans Timmermans:

“What we need to do is help countries switch from coal to renewables. But some countries cannot do it all at once. They will need natural gas as a transitional energy source. is why we are supporting some of these projects. But we do not want these countries to lock themselves into natural gas. So this is a temporary solution. We will ensure that our legislation is adapted to allow this. transition from coal via natural gas to renewable energies in countries that need it. “

Méabh Mc Mahon:

“Can we really call natural gas green energy?”

Frans Timmermans:

“No, it is a fossil fuel, but at the same time, it is an energy intermediary that is necessary in this green transition.”

“Nuclear power has the immense advantage of not generating emissions”

Méabh Mc Mahon:

“What about nuclear?”

Frans Timmermans:

“Nuclear power has the immense advantage of not generating emissions. It is a huge advantage! But at the same time, it relies on a mining resource and its cost is extremely high.”

Méabh Mc Mahon:

“What would Kees say about radioactive nuclear waste?”

Frans Timmermans:

“Indeed. The cost is enormous. The cost of building nuclear power plants is only increasing while the cost of installing renewable energy equipment is dropping considerably. You hardly need public funds. to invest in renewable energies when it takes a lot to invest in nuclear. “

Méabh Mc Mahon:

“Should the EU ban fossil fuel companies from sponsoring media, cultural and sporting events?”

Frans Timmermans:

“I think we should make it clear that we want investments to shift away from fossil fuels to renewables and it can be the same companies that are moving from one to the other. Why not? But today , the IMF has calculated that every minute we invest about $ 11 million in fossil fuels. This needs to change and quickly! “

“We must inform citizens about the cost of non-transition”

Méabh Mc Mahon:

“Last week, we saw people take to the streets in Belgium, but also in the Netherlands and Austria to denounce the measures taken to combat the spread of Covid-19. These gatherings have escalated. They have been very violent. Hence my question: are Europeans really ready to face a climate crisis? “

Frans Timmermans:

“The important thing is to inform our citizens not only about the cost of the transition, but above all about the cost of non-transition which will be enormous. Human suffering will be immeasurable if we do not change our habits. , of course, this transition will be difficult, but we must make sure that it is fair and that we leave no one behind. We must show our citizens that when we ask them to do their part, our request is fair and that we make sure that those who can contribute more do so, but also that those who cannot do more are protected, for example, against fuel poverty. “

“We wouldn’t have had the Green Deal without Greta Thunberg”

Méabh Mc Mahon:

“Do you feel that the Covid 19 pandemic has somewhat sabotaged your Green Deal?”

Frans Timmermans:

“Obviously, the pandemic occupies an important place in people’s concerns today. But it is interesting to note that in all the surveys, when Europeans are asked what their main concern is, a majority of them answer the question. climate crisis and not the Covid. “

Méabh Mc Mahon:

“At last, Greta Thunberg, is she a heroine? “

Frans Timmermans:

“She is a heroine, absolutely. We would not have had a European Green Pact without her and without the movement. Fridays for Future. “


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