Climate Change

EU declares climate emergency

Lawmakers agree to become climate neutral by 2050

 
By DTE Staff
Last Updated: Friday 29 November 2019
European Parliament announces climate emergency days ahead of UN climate change Conference of Parties. Photo: Getty Images

European Union (EU) has become the first multilateral bloc to declare climate emergency, as its legislatures voted in a favour of a resolution for the same. The symbolic move is expected to pressurise countries to act ahead of the United Nations summit on climate change that starts on December 2 in Spain.

After a debate on Monday, 429 legislatures voted in favour of the declaration that calls on EU to cut emissions by 55 per cent by 2030 and become climate neutral by 2050. While 225 legislatures voted against the resolution, 19 others abstained from the voting. The dissenting lawmakers objected to the word “emergency” and pushed for the word “urgency”.

In a statement on Twitter after the vote, EU lawmakers urged the European Commission “to fully ensure all relevant legislative and budgetary proposals are fully aligned” with the 1.5-degrees-Celsius target limit on global warming.

The 28-nation EU now joins a list that already includes several countries and cities including Argentina and Canada and New York.  

The resolution, passed at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, was introduced by French MEP and chair of the Parliament’s environment committee Pascal Canfin.

“Given the climate and environmental emergency, it is essential to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 55 per cent in 2030. It also sends a clear and timely message to the Commission a few weeks before the publication of the Communication on the Green Deal,” said Canfin.

The announcement comes days after the UN Environment’s annual Emissions Gap report, which warns the world must cut annual emissions by 7.6 per cent till 2030 to meet 1.5°C target. In 2018, the world emitted a record high of 55.3 gigatonnes of CO2-equivalent of greenhouse gases (GHG), up from the previous record of 54 gigatonnes set in 2017.

The EU’s current target under the Paris Agreement mandate a 40% cut in emissions by 2030 over 1990 levels and this symbolic vote does not change that. The bloc has only recently come on track to meet this target, with UNEP’s recently released Emissions Gap Report estimating that it is on track to cutting emissions by 45% in 2030. However a report Halfway There by Sandbag, a London-based think tank has estimated that only a little additional effort will be required for the EU to hit a 58% emissions cut.

The EU has been debating the 55% target for months now, with traditional climate champion Germany’s uncooperative stand especially delaying matters. A 55% emissions cut by 2030 will still not put the EU’s plans on track to limit the global mean temperature rise to 2 °C, let alone 1.5 °C, according to the Climate Action Tracker, a collaborative effort between Climate Analytics and the New Climate Institute, both based in Germany. 

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