Read Issue 1: All About the Climate Law here.
Read Issue 2: Responding to a Crisis: Climate and Corona here.
Read Issue 3: Will COVID-19 Destroy or Empower the European Green Deal here
Read Issue 4: Financing the Green Deal here
Read Issue 5: The EU Recovery Plan here
Read Issue 6: The Mercosur Trade Agreement: A Lose-Lose Deal here
Read Issue 7: Farm to Fork Strategy here
Read Issue 8: The European Climate Targets by 2030 here
The Paris Agreement was signed by 195 countries in 2015. Everyone agreed on the core objective of keeping the global average temperature rise well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, while pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C.
According to the Institute for European environmental policy we have now emitted as much since 1990 as in all of history before that time.
In fact, our emissions are so high that the world’s planned fossil fuel production by the year 2030 accounts for 120% more than what would be consistent with the 1.5°C.
Right now, not one of the 195 countries that signed the Paris Agreement is in line with its target. This means we need rapid and radical action if we are serious about the objective of 1.5°C. So let’s calculate;
The UNEP Emissions Gap Report 2019 estimated that from 2020 the required cuts in global emissions needed, to have a fair chance of meeting those temperature goals are:
- 2.7% per year for the 2°C goal
- 7.6% per year on average for the 1.5°C goal.
But let it be clear that this extra 0.5°C of warming is catastrophic for both this planet and our economy. We would lose up to $1.5 trillion and it would add at least 10cm extra to the rising sea level. This means an extra 10 million people will be exposed to flooding.
Also the loss of species and the risk of food shortages would decrease drastically when we would go for the 1.5°C as well as the number of predicted extreme weather events like heat waves.
So, what does our carbon budget demand for us to do in order to prevent this?
If countries release another 380 gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, there’s a 67% chance we’ll keep temperatures below a 1.5-degree increase. This would be the highest chance we could get by now. If we release 580 gigatons more carbon dioxide, there’s a 50% chance, according to the IPCC SR15 report.
The best way for the EU to contribute to this climate target and take responsibility, is to adapt the most ambitious climate target possible. With the current discussion of a 55%- or 65% reduction by 2030, going for at least 60% is not just the only responsible path to choose, but it is also beneficial and feasible for our economy, our environment and specific sectors like agriculture, energy, the industry, transport,…
As becomes clear in the Climate target emissions report of Climact – more and more countries and companies understand the importance of implementing a net-zero emission target for 2050. Current EU policy is clearly shifting away from fossil fuels and carbon intensive productions and consumptions. Also renewable energy has become cheaper in many cases than fossil fuel based energy and on a micro level a lot of investors and companies see financial opportunities in producing sustainably.
A more ambitious climate target and a direct transition would also reduce the annual efforts needed between 2030 and 2050. To reach the European objective of being carbon neutral by 2050, efforts will be needed every year, and time is running out. The only realistic thing to do is to reduce our emissions as fast as possible while including key-factors such as tipping points, feedback loops, global equity,.. . In this way, we can also prevent extra carbon intensive lock-ins in the future (when companies or countries are stuck to fossil fuels for years and years because of a previously made contract).
Starting the transition directly would also save us millions of euros. Climate Action Network Europe points out that: ’the energy transition can become the motor of economic recovery’ if we transition in time for it to pay off. On top of this it is also a reality that the cost of the damaging effects of climate change will be much higher than the costs of the inevitable transition.
Now, let’s talk about responsibility
The importance of equity is something that we should always keep in mind. Countries with the biggest carbon footprint, historical responsibility and capability to act, should do more both on a national level and by financially supporting other countries that are trying to reach the necessary climate targets.
It’s time for Europe to be smart, responsible and leading. We need to adapt the highest possible climate target by 2030 to have a fighting chance against the climate crisis.
The conservative EPP group led by Manfred Weber is not listening and wants to vote against it. We must change this together. Tell your MEP via Twitter what you think and ask them to #VoteForClimate on 7 October. Click here to put pressure on your MEP’s!
So, are you joining?
We are Adélaïde Charlier and Anuna De Wever, two climate activists that launched the youth for climate movement in Belgium, internationally known as Fridays For Future. We went on strike for weeks and weeks, for more than a year. We worked together with scientists, politicians and activists. We recently sailed to Latin America to attend the CoP in Chile and to understand the threat to the Amazon Rainforest and the Global South facing the direct consequences of climate change.
After this, we felt like it was time for our activism to evolve and for us to get closer to the decision making process at the European level. We started an internship in the Greens/EFA Group in February 2020 and decided to write a regular blog to share information on the preparation of the European Green Deal within the Parliament.
We want to build the bridge between the climate activists in the streets and the politicians in the European Parliament. We would like to offer young activists more information about the internal trade-offs to pressure the right points, and debate with our politicians to show them there are millions of people all around the world ready and waiting for change.