European Union declares ‘climate emergency’

Record flooding in Venice has been attributed to climate warming

EU lawmakers have said the declaration will increase pressure on the incoming European Commission to take a stronger stance on fighting climate change. The impact is already being felt. Although target is not sufficient sufficient to meet the need, a few of the European nations are reluctant, and the words have yet to be converted into action, the declaration of a climate emergency is a step forward, which will have a global impact. This article published by DW (author not provided), gives an outline of what happened.

After years of widespread campaigns across European nations, the European Union has agreed to declare a climate emergency.

Big turnouts at recent demonstrations for action on climate warming have had an effect. Over 1 million people took to the streets on in Italy. There were 250,000 in Rome, 80,000 in Naples, 20,000 in Bologna and at least 20,000 in Turin, pictured here.

European lawmakers have voted to declare an EU-wide climate emergency, in a symbolic move aimed at increasing pressure on the incoming European Commission to take a stronger stance on climate change. 

The climate declaration was passed on Thursday in Strasbourg during a European Parliament (EP) debate on the upcoming United Nations’ COP25 climate summit that kicks off December 2 in Madrid. 

The summer of 2019 saw heat records in Europe broken across the continent. In July, Germany recorded its highest temperature ever at 42.6 C. France broke its heat record twice in 2019, the highest temperature measuring 46.C in July. Climate change increases the frequency of heat waves.

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 (2.7-degrees-Fahrenheit) target limit on global warming.

The resolution calls on the EU to cut emissions by 55 percent by 2030 to become climate neutral by 2050.

The same heat wave that brought record temperatures to France sparked the worst wildfires to hit Spain in 20 years. On the Spanish island of Gran Canaria, wildfires in August decimated a national park on the popular tourist island. Hotter temperatures and drier air due to climate change increase the risk of fires.


The resolution was put forth by French MEP and chair of the EP’s environment committee Pascal Canfin, in the same month President Donald Trump began formal proceedings to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement. 

“Given the climate and environmental emergency, it is essential to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent 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.

European ‘Green Deal’

The incoming European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, has proposed a “European Green Deal’ that aims to achieve “climate neutrality” — or no added greenhouse gases to the atmosphere beyond those that can be absorbed — by 2050.

The proposal includes an increase in carbon taxes, heavier investment in sustainable business, reductions in pollution, and increased protection for Europe’s wilderness, national parks, and green spaces.

European lawmakers have said the bloc must assume a leading role in the international fight against climate change. 

A glacier on the Italian side of Mont Blanc experienced accelerated melting in 2019. And enthusiasts held a “funeral” for the Pizol glacier in the Swiss Alps, which has almost completely disappeared. Scientists say climate change accelerates glacial melting in the Alps.

Eastern Europe reluctant

Current emissions targets aim to reduce EU greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030 from 1990 levels. Von der Leyen’s deal wants to increase reductions to at least 50 percent.

However, coal-powered member states Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, are reluctant to commit to carbon neutrality by 2050. 

Those countries, all reliant on burning fossil fuels, argued earlier this year that the cost of transitioning to clean energy would be too burdensome. They are asking for additional funding to make the transition. 

“The just transition is a fundamental issue: it must be fair in social and regional terms. With regard to Poland and other central European countries, all EU funds must be used for greening, in particular the cohesion funds,” Canfin told Euractiv.

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