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EU leaders must not fail citizens on climate action

20 March 2019
by WWF -- last modified 20 March 2019

Commenting on the upcoming European Council conclusions on climate, Ester Asin, Director of WWF European Policy Office said:


"Are EU leaders about to tell their citizens to get lost? If Heads of State fail to fix a target year of 2050, or ideally 2040, for net zero emissions, they are ignoring the hundreds of thousands of people calling for climate action across Europe and beyond, and the advice of all credible scientists. Locking us into unsustainable, dangerous business-as-usual is simply not an option when the future of our planet and our children is at stake, and when the many benefits of rapid action, for health, GDP and jobs, are there for the taking."

What's happening?

EU leaders are due to adopt conclusions on the European Commission's proposed long-term climate strategy when they meet this week.

Why is it important?

The EU needs to uphold its international commitments to try and avoid catastrophic climate change. Only one of the options in the European Commission's proposed climate strategy would help keep temperature rise to the 1.5°C limit agreed in Paris in a sustainable way. EU leaders can give the European Commission a mandate to pursue an ambitious, enforceable, Paris-aligned climate plan which brings all communities and regions into a net zero carbon economy.

What do we need?

In WWF's view, EU Heads of State must support a net zero emissions target for 2040 and 65% emissions cuts for 2030. Only then will EU policy start to come in line with the Paris Agreement. The European Parliament has called for net zero by 2050 and a 55% 2030 emissions reduction target, which is not enough but would be a step in the right direction.

However, early versions of the conclusions mention 'climate neutrality in line with the Paris Agreement' but with no target year, which makes the commitment meaningless and would massively undermine the EU's action on climate change. At a time when global leadership is required this would be a shameful abdication of responsibility.

The European Policy Office helps shape EU policies that impact on the European and global environment.