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What memory stands out in the many years you have worked on Climate Policy?

Interview with Jos Delbeke and Peter Vis
ANNIKA ZORN: Jos, you have been working on climate issues for a long time as Director-General here at the European Commission - we are now here in the building of the European Commission - are there any memories that stand out in the years you’ve been working on these issues?
JOS DELBEKE: Yes, there is one memory in two phases that is that the United States dropped out twice. Mr. Trump has said he would leave the Paris Agreement but President Bush, when he had to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, left the Kyoto Protocol as well. And then the particularities of the Kyoto Protocol were that, if we lost United States, we needed, to cut a long story short, Russia, and we needed a broad support of developing countries in the world. And so Margot Wallström, who was the Commissioner at the time, immediately reacted and within a couple of weeks we were on a little plane traveling the world and we were doing every day a capital.
So, we went through Moscow and Beijing and Tokyo, as we went to to Iran and to Latin American countries, etcetera, so that was a quite a remarkable thing because through that we rescued the Kyoto Protocol and in the end, it was a long story, we could also have the Russians signing off on the Kyoto Protocol.
It was paying us a lot of visits to Moscow, it was not done in one go, but the good and fruitful discussions between Margot Wallström and President Putin at the time delivered in the end a deal that was perhaps part of wider dealings that we had with Russia, but that was a core element and President Putin at the time understood very well how important it was for the Europeans. And the week before the Commission, the Prodi Commission resigned and a new Commission came in, President Putin delivered the promise and the Kyoto Protocol was ratified by the Duma.
So, that was quite something, because if we are now coming back and we are where we now have now with the Paris Agreement, if we wouldn’t have had the Kyoto Protocol entering into force, our policies would not have taken off, the world’s policies would have come to an end and we would have found ourselves on point zero with the world at large. And the only thing we would have had is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in which nothing is operational.
So, at least now we have our climate policy and through the Paris Agreement we could drag in the emerging economies like China and Brazil and South Africa also as part of the action that needs to be undertaken. So, I think that this course of things, the Europeans did what needed to be done and it was hard work but in the end it’s good to see that it delivered the result.

Jos Delbeke and Peter Vis have been working on EU Climate Policy since the very beginning. In this conversation Annika Zorn asks Jos about a memory that stands out.

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