Climate change is the greatest challenge for humanity and the planet, EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides told CNA in an interview on the occasion of the International Conference on Climate Change that was organised last week by the Cyprus Institute in Nicosia.
Stylianides said that coordinated and joint actions must be taken to address the problems. “Climate change is not “fake news”. Instead. It is today`s harsh reality”, he said.
Asked about his portofolio, he said that because of climate change, the needs of humanitarian aid and crisis management had changed. The impact of climate change, especially in Africa, where he traveled to monitor and coordinate humanitarian aid, was obvious, he added.
“I saw drought and floods in many parts of the world. In Somalia, for example, where drought resulted to the loss of properties, malnutrition and water scarcity have increased.”
This leads to poverty and the forced displacement of populations that inevitably create new waves of displaced persons, and this, in turn, dramatically increases humanitarian needs that could lead to humanitarian crises.
He said climate change was also responsible for the increase in natural disasters that humanity has experienced in the recent years. Referring to the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East, he said that those regions are particularly vulnerable to climate change.
“Cyprus, for example, just three years ago, suffered one of the worst forest fires in the Solea region”, he said.
Stylianides said the EU has set a very clear goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 40 per cent in all sectors of the economy by 2030, while at the same time adopting an innovative legislative framework to achieve this goal.
In addition, the European Commission has taken another important step: the adoption of rescEU, which is a proposal by Stylianides to upgrade the existing European civil protection system in order to cope with the increased natural disasters due to climate change.
“This initiative is a tangible example of the philosophy and political function of the European Commission: it strengthens in a practical way the sense of security of the European citizen and ensures that European solidarity can protect him at the time of the crisis,” he said.
The aim, he said, is to protect the lives and properties of European citizens by upgrading and strengthening the European Emergency Response System.
Asked if the EU has any specific policies for the Mediterranean and Middle East region, he said that within the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy, many of the EU`s cooperation activities in the Mediterranean and the Middle East focus on the environment.
“EU funded projects, such as ClimaSouth, have helped address the environmental challenges in our neighbourhood,” he added.
CNA was media sponsor of the International Conference on Climate Change.