2017 2nd committee bureauEconomic and environmental committee leaders Nilza Sena, Artur Gerasymov and Marietta Tidei

COPENHAGEN, 22 April 2017 – In observance of Earth Day 2017, leaders of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s economic and environmental affairs committee today highlighted the ongoing challenges to the planet requiring robust international responses. From water security and air pollution to biodiversity loss and deforestation to ocean acidification and climate change, global environmental challenges require global solutions, the PA leaders said.

Recalling the concept of comprehensive security as laid out in the OSCE’s 1975 Helsinki Final Act – encompassing the dimensions of politico-military affairs, economic and environmental concerns, and human rights – the Chair, Vice-Chair and Rapporteur of the Assembly’s economic and environmental committee pointed out that the “second dimension” provides a strong basis for mutually beneficial co-operation among OSCE participating States.

Chair Nilza Sena (MP, Portugal) stressed the importance, in particular, of all countries accepting the global scientific consensus on climate change and taking co-operative action to move rapidly into a low-carbon economy.

“The debate regarding climate change is over,” Sena said. “The scientific community is virtually unanimous in its assessment that human activity is responsible for observable increases in global temperatures, and although world leaders have for the most part recognized the reality of the climate crisis, leading to the historic Paris Agreement on climate change, bolder action is urgently needed in order to counter this existential threat.”

Vice-Chair Artur Gerasymov (MP, Ukraine) highlighted the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, including access to sustainable energy for all, and emphasized the role of innovation in aligning economic growth with ecological sustainability and social inclusion.

“In times of natural resource constraints and widespread recognition of human-generated climate change, economic strategies in all of our countries should be based on principles of green growth,” Gerasymov said. “Growing the economy and protecting the environment are not mutually exclusive, and every effort should be made to pursue responsible economic policies that prioritize innovations that contribute to sustainable development.”

Committee Rapporteur Marietta Tidei (MP, Italy) urged all OSCE countries to ratify the Paris Agreement, to fulfill their obligations under the agreement, and to strengthen their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions to guarantee that global temperatures do not exceed the target of two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, as called for in Paris.

“Climate change is happening and some of our countries are feeling the effects more than others,” she said. “Not only must we develop policies to combat this trend, but we should also take measures to mitigate the effects of global warming already taking place, including rising sea levels, extreme weather, and increased migration.”

As Rapporteur of the OSCE PA’s Committee on Economic Affairs, Science, Technology and Environment, Tidei is developing a report and draft resolution to be presented at this summer’s 26th Annual Session in Minsk, Belarus. She will present the report to the PA’s Bureau meeting on Monday, 24 April, in Copenhagen, Denmark.