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As climate action takes centre-stage, EU must play a leading role

20 September 2019
by WWF -- last modified 20 September 2019

The next two weeks will see an unprecedented series of political events and public mobilisations focused on the climate crisis:


  • Today and on Friday 27th, marches are taking place around the globe from Brussels to Brisbane to call on leaders for urgent climate action. WWF European Policy Office will join today's mobilisation in Brussels.
  • On Monday 23rd, governments meet in New York for a UN summit to which they have been asked to bring higher climate pledges.
  • There is also a meeting of EU energy ministers on Tuesday 24th, at which they will discuss their national energy and climate plans.
  • On Wednesday 25th, the international climate scientist body, the IPCC, will release a report which is expected to show how global temperature rise is impacting our oceans and polar regions.

What is expected from the EU?

European Council president Donald Tusk, and Finland as the EU Council Presidency, will represent the EU at the UN summit next week, along with several Member States*. While incoming EU Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen has committed to increasing the EU's climate target from 'at least 40%' emissions reductions to 50% to 55%, the EU is not expected to make a formal pledge to do so at this point.

However, progressive Member States can use the opportunity to announce increased national ambition on emissions reductions, and their support for greater collective ambition, at the summit and at the Energy Council on Tuesday.

Combined with the massive public support for action shown both on the streets and in the latest Eurobarometer poll, this would be a clear message to other EU countries and the EU institution leaders that radical and far-reaching policies to enable a fair transition to a zero carbon society are needed now. It would also show non-EU countries that the EU is ready to step up.

Imke L├╝bbeke, head of climate and energy at WWF European Policy Office said:

"The climate emergency is in the global spotlight. The scientific evidence is irrefutable, and people's support for bold steps has never been greater. The incoming EU Commission chief has made a strong start by pledging higher reduction targets and a climate law: this must now become a reality and strengthened further. As EU countries take the UN stage on Monday, and as they discuss their national climate plans on Tuesday, they can set the pace. To uphold the Paris climate agreement, the EU needs to cut emissions by 65% for 2030, so it can be climate-neutral in 2040."

List of events and more details:

  • 20-27 September: Climate marches around the world.
  • Saturday 21 September: Youth Climate Summit under the UN Climate Action Summit. Full day sessions featuring young leaders.
  • 21 and 22 September: Summit events ahead of the UN Climate Action Summit organised by countries leading the nine coalition groups.
  • Monday 23 September: Opening Ceremony of the Climate Week organised by the Climate Group, ahead of the UN SG Climate Action Summit.
  • Monday 23 September: The UN Climate Action Summit. The purpose of the summit is to boost ambition and to demonstrate a leap in collective national political ambition and massive low-emissions movements in the real economy.
  • 23-27 September: The Climate Week runs more than 150 events in New York City, organised by leading organisations, businesses, governments, academic institutions, etc.
  • 24 September: SDG 13 on Climate Action will be discussed by leaders in the UN General Assembly.
  • 24 September: EU energy council discussing National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs). They have been asked to discuss the ambition gaps in the draft NECPs, and the Council's role in closing those gaps.
  • 25 September: the International Panel on Climate Change releases its report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate.

*Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, PT, Spain, Sweden, UK all have speaking slots.

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