From Pakistan to California to the south of France: the floods, heatwaves and wildfires that have hit different countries around the world this year have – once again – demonstrated how climate change knows no borders.
This is why the EU has been leading global climate action for years, deploying vast financial and human resources to enable not only its Member States, but also many of its partner countries across the world to tackle this ongoing emergency. The EU and its Member States provided around €23.04 billion in 2021 to fight climate change outside Europe, which makes them collectively the biggest donor of international climate finance in the world.
But how is this funding being used on the ground? Here are 10 stories of how the EU helps developing countries address climate change, adapt to its consequences, and prepare for the effects that are still to come.
Fighting climate change – mitigation
To prevent climate change from worsening, we need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions – and the best way to do so is to reduce our use of fossil fuels and switch to clean renewables energies, such as solar and wind power. A fully solar-powered market hall has recently opened in Alexandria (Egypt), financed by the EU, to support the country’s energy transition. The project involved the installation of a photovoltaic unit, sufficient to power the market and provide surplus electricity to the local grid. There are over 250 markets in Egypt and, if replicated elsewhere, the project could contribute to producing up to 25 MW of clean energy, which is enough to power some 15 000 homes for one year.
Beyond such large-scale projects, the EU is also funding actions that support local communities to improve people’s lives. For example, the EU has provided financial and technical assistance to launch Women-Led Sustainable Energy Enterprises in rural areas across the globe. Alma from western Honduras has used the funding to become a small solar panel retailer, while Clara from Malawi set up a small company selling dried fruit using solar-powered machinery provided by the EU.
But fostering the use of clean energy is not the only way to help our partner countries and their people fight climate change. By subsidising the creation of a ‘tree nursery’ in Zambia, the EU has not just helped the rural community fight climate change, but also improved their living conditions. The tens of thousands of trees planted from seedlings each year at the nursery remove carbon from the atmosphere and provide a livelihood for more than 30 local workers.
Preparing better for the effects of climate change – adaptation
Climate change cannot be stopped immediately and some of its consequences are inevitable, even if we could cut all our emissions now. This is why the EU has been helping communities around the world adapt to the changes already happening. For instance, the EU has created five ‘ecovillages’ in Tanzania to fight the desertification caused by climate change. In the face of increasing aridity in the area, the inhabitants have received training on water conservation, soil erosion prevention, crop rotation and bio-fertilisation.
Similarly, in Côte d’Ivoire, the EU is helping cocoa growers to adapt to the rising deforestation rate. A ‘payment for environmental services’ (PES) scheme has been launched to reward growers engaging in climate-smart practices, such as agroforestry, reforestation, and conservation.
The fight against climate change-induced land degradation is ongoing in many other regions. The EU-funded Regreening Africa project is restoring ecosystems over 1 million hectares in 8 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. As part of the project, small farmers received training and tools to embrace agroforestry and move away from conventional agricultural techniques. One tool they use is a mobile app, which allows them to share information and find data-based solutions for land restoration.
Finally, in Mauritius, the EU has been combining climate adaptation efforts with fighting gender inequality. Given the propagation of pests and crop diseases and a drop in soil humidity – both issues climate-change related – the EU has been helping local fruit and vegetable farmers redesign the way they grow their crops to increase the resilience of agriculture to climate change and reduce the use of pesticides. As most beneficiaries are women, the project also supports their economic empowerment in the community. This is crucial because, just as climate change has a greater impact on vulnerable communities, it also affects women and girls more significantly by exacerbating existing inequalities and disrupting their access to essential services.
Assistance to those in need – disaster response
No matter how impactful mitigation and adaptation efforts might be, extreme weather events and climate disasters will become increasingly frequent over the next few decades. On numerous occasions, the EU has provided assistance to people in disaster-hit regions.
After the recent floods in Pakistan, for instance, the EU released more than €30 million in humanitarian aid and supported emergency relief operations by deploying teams of experts in the affected areas. And in the aftermath of hurricane ‘Maria’ that devastated Dominica in 2017, the EU donated €20 million so that the country could ‘build back better’ and become more climate-resilient.
But it is equally important to prepare for future disasters. This is why, after multiple floods hit West African countries over the last decade, the EU funded a project to enhance the long-term climate disaster management capacity in the region. As part of it, local flood monitoring organisations will receive financial and technical support.
Climate finance – our best ally?
Climate scientists and the communities affected by climate change agree that the climate crisis represents the most pressing challenge of our time. Even in the face of this urgent global challenge, there is still hope if we all take action now. Funding climate action might not be enough to completely change the tide, but it is one of the most powerful tools we have.
For this reason, the EU will remain at the forefront of global climate action, continuing to support our partners, with a focus on the most vulnerable countries and communities. Today, as the COP27 climate conference in Egypt is ongoing and climate finance is high on the agenda, it is more important than ever to reaffirm the EU’s commitment.