A United Nations climate summit in New York City exposes Europe’s lack of progress to tackle the climate emergency. World leaders are meeting after millions took to the streets in unprecedented global protests last weeks and months, demanding urgent political action. The aim of the summit is to bring political commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris climate agreement.
The world is currently on track for well over 3°C of warming, which would lead to devastating consequences for people and nature. UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres has called on the EU to lead by example to help limit global heating to 1.5°C and avoid the worst impacts of climate breakdown. The world is looking to EU for climate leadership, but the EU is dragging its feet.
Millions have taken to the streets, scientists have issued increasingly dire warnings, and the impacts of a changing climate have intensified. Despite this escalating emergency, EU-wide commitments to cut emissions to net-zero are yet to materialise, while a far more urgent decision about ramping up short-term targets in line with science has been delayed.
In June, EU leaders failed to back an EU target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050, after opposition from Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Estonia. But it looks like the tide is beginning to turn – a growing number of governments and EU politicians are responding to calls for action. Those who don’t seize the opportunity for a fair and climate-friendly EU should expect to be challenged on the streets, in the courts and at the ballot box.
A majority of the European Parliament, incoming European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and several EU governments – Germany, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden, Finland and Denmark – have said the EU should significantly increase its 2030 climate target. The EU currently says it will cut greenhouse gases by 40% in 2030 (compared to 1990 levels). Discussions to raise the EU’s 2030 climate target have been postponed until the EU summit in December.
You never know…