Amid growing conflicts, COP21 climate deal will be "factor of peace for future generations”, says HSH Prince Albert II

Author:
Ilario D'Amato
Reading time: 10 minutes
2 December 2015

LONDON: As the crucial COP21 climate talks unfold Paris, His Serene Highness Albert II, Prince of Monaco – who has long been a passionate advocate for the low carbon economy – reiterates the case for climate action in an exclusive interview with The Climate Group.

Environmental issues play a central role in Monaco’s policies. But to expand the microstate’s commitments, in 2006 the Prince established the Foundation Prince Albert II de Monaco, which supports critical low carbon initiatives such as The Climate Group’s LED scale-up project.

“The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the fight to mitigate climate change is one of the greatest challenges our planet faces today,” explains the sovereign. However, with challenges come “fantastic opportunities for many countries.”

Many of those opportunities come from working with and learning from other leaders. Because climate change is an issue that “requires solidarity and cooperation between nations”, the Prince affirms that Monaco “intends to contribute fully to the common effort; it wants to be ambitious in its objectives and promote actions that can serve as examples.”

COP21 IN PARIS

Monaco has in fact submitted what is arguably one of the most ambitious climate action plans, or INDCs, to the UNFCCC. Its target is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 based on 1990 levels. The climate plan “aims to take action in three areas,” explains the Prince, “each of which accounts for 30% of Monaco’s emissions and for which many initiatives have already been developed: transport, waste-to-energy projects, and the heating and cooling of buildings.”

The aim of the collective plans is for all nations gathered at the Paris talks to have a firm basis to agree a climate deal that will keep the average increase of global temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius compared to preindustrial levels – and, wherever possible, to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius, to avoid dangerous sea level rise.

“To me, it is essential for all countries to produce their [INDCs],” continues HSH Prince Albert II. “Obviously, it is useful for the negotiation process within the UNFCCC, but it is also very important so that each country can anticipate the future and envisage a low carbon energy development model.

“For many developing countries this can be a solid basis for their social, economic and environmental development. And for developed countries, it’s an opportunity to roll out the energy transition. The other major contribution expected is that of the Green Climate Fund.

“The international community has to put forward financing mechanisms that will allow developing countries to put this new low carbon economy in place, and for the countries that are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change to fund essential adaptation mechanisms. This is, of course, the responsibility of the governments, but it is also the responsibility of the private sector and the financial world.”

CLEAN ENERGY

The Foundation works to encourage technological innovation in fields as wide-ranging as lighting with the Philips Lighting Solution in Africa, improved homes with the UN Foundation’s Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves and building energy efficiency, to Solar Impulse, an ambitious project which intends to achieve the first round-the-world flight in a solar-powered aircraft.

Owing to the fact the Foundation has worked on energy efficiency and renewable energy for the past 10 years, the Prince can see there is still room for improvement around developed and developing country collaboration. “It’s not enough for the technologies to be available; it is also necessary to think of a new business model that allows renewable energies to be a real opportunity of development for local populations and their economy.”

To drive this change, the Prince says it is “essential to encourage exchange and cooperation between the countries of the north and countries of the south” as well as between business and NGOs. “This is the significance of the Energy Efficiency Forum [in Monaco] that the Foundation has encouraged with The Climate Group and Johnson Controls.”

But business in particular has a growing role to play in adopting as well as facilitating innovation around low carbon energy. “I am happy that the private sector is today a driver in the development of renewable energies. Most energy companies have resolutely decided to turn toward the future and their investments show real interest in this field and lots of start-ups are being created every day.”

CLIMATE DEAL

This positive relationship is something that has been developing since the Copenhagen climate summit. So what then, does the Prince believe would be the best indicator of success from COP21 in Paris, which concludes in nine days? “Until now, climate negotiations have mainly been seen as a constraint or as hindering development. We undoubtedly need to switch paradigms, and much like those companies that are turning toward the future, it is important to look at the extraordinary opportunities offered by the development of a low carbon economy.”

HSH Prince Albert II’s message to other heads of state gathered in Paris is a simple and very poignant one. “The challenges posed by climate change and the issues the negotiations raise, above all, is the question of solidarity, between nations and between generations.

“More than ever we must take on responsibility, and move away from a short-term vision. In this world, where tensions and conflicts are growing, an agreement on climate would be a factor of peace for future generations.”

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By Ilario D'Amato 

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