European Union Parliament Declares Climate And Environmental Emergency

In response to a recent United Nations warning to immediately cut carbon emissions or else face serious climate change consequences, the European Union parliament has passed a resolution declaring a climate and environmental emergency.

Climate change is out of control and global temperatures are only rising as the fossil fuel industry continues to increase production at an alarming rate that will only make the situation more dire despite nations pledging to become carbon neutral by 2030 or 2050.

Clearly, many nations are just moving the goalposts to avoid real meaningful change.

But European Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen has a different idea.

“If there is one area where the world needs our leadership, it is on protecting our climate,” she said in a statement to the Washington Post earlier. “This is an existential issue for Europe — and for the world.”

Her promises to hold nations accountable and take action to fight climate change to prevent the disastrous consequences that come with it, has resulted in the European Parliament resolving that she should keep these promises by passing an emergency declaration calling for a 55 percent reduction of 1990 level carbon emissions by 2030, up from the 40 percent reduction called for by the Paris Climate Agreement.

The emergency declaration is the strongest language put forward by any continent so far and is a message to the rest of the world to pay attention and take action.

“The fact that Europe is the first continent to declare climate and environmental emergency, just before COP25, when the new commission takes office, and three weeks after Donald Trump confirmed the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris agreement, is a strong message sent to citizens and the rest of the world,” French liberal Member of European Parliament (MEP) Pascal Canfin told The Guardian.

Environmentalists and climate activists are praising the declaration but warned that we need actions more than we need words right now.

“Our house is on fire. The European parliament has seen the blaze, but it’s not enough to stand by and watch,” Greenpeace EU climate policy adviser Sebastian Mang said.

Swedish meteorologist and Green MEP Pär Holmgren pointed out why action is desperately needed.

“You could sum it up by saying: for the moment we are heading for 3C, which is, of course, better than 4C, but it’s far from well below 2C, aiming at 1.5 degrees which we have promised to each other, to future generations,” Holmgren said.

Indeed, 2C is the red line. If global temperatures reach that mark, climate change would become even more out of control and irreversible, resulting in water insecurity, wildfires, droughts and other climate-related problems worse than we have ever witnessed or experienced.

Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg found out about the declaration during her trip home on the high seas, and she also called for action instead of stronger rhetoric.

“We can’t solve a crisis without treating it as one,” Thunberg wrote on Twitter. “Let’s hope they now take drastic sufficient action.”

For now, the declaration is at least underscoring the need for EU member states to submit plans to help fight climate change.

“Member states have one month left to improve their plans,” Climate Action Network Europe director Wendel Trio said. “It is crystal clear that the quality of these plans will weigh a lot in the EU’s ability to act on climate change in the next decade. They must set clear pathways that will allow the bloc to increase its climate target, shift away from fossil fuels and speed up the pace towards fully energy efficient and renewables-based economies.”

Stronger language is appreciated but the world needs immediate action. That means completely abandoning fossil fuels and switching entirely to renewables, not in the next ten or thirty years, but right now. Failure to do so should be seen as governments continuing to run out the clock on our planet and our very lives so that fossil fuel executives and investors can continue enriching themselves. That cannot be tolerated.

Featured Image: Wikimedia

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Stephen D. Foster Jr.

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