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article imageEuropean Parliament's declaration on climate is a big deal

By Karen Graham     Nov 29, 2019 in Environment
The European Parliament declared a "climate and environmental emergency" Thursday, calling on the incoming European Commission to take a stronger stance on fighting climate change.
The incoming president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen is under a lot of pressure to make sure all legislation and budgets align with the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The COP25 Climate Change Conference being held in Madrid is now less than a week away. Deutsche Welle suggested the European Parliament's move to declare a climate emergency is more symbolic because it was aiming to put pressure where it's needed.
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.
Pascal Canfin
In another resolution, the group called on the EU to submit a strategy to the UN Convention on Climate Change for reaching carbon neutrality by 2050. The European Commission has already proposed a 2050 carbon neutrality goal, however, Poland, Hungary, and Czechia stopped it from earning the endorsement of the European Council, reports EcoWatch.
A big deal with a strong message
Pascal Canfin, the French liberal MEP who drafted the climate emergency resolution, said: “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.”
It all comes down to "putting your money where your mouth is," as they say. Environmentalists applauded the European Parliament's emergency declaration, but also urged the EU to back up words with deeds.
"We can't solve a crisis without treating it as one," Swedish school-strike leader Greta Thunberg tweeted from the Atlantic Ocean, as she sails back from North America to attend COP25. "Let's hope they now take drastic sufficient action."
Greta Thunberg
Proposed European 'Green Deal'
Ursula von der Leyen, the first woman to lead the EU's executive arm, has proposed what she calls a "European Green Deal' that aims to achieve "climate neutrality." She explained the proposal as "no added greenhouse gases to the atmosphere beyond those that can be absorbed — by 2050."
The plan would include an increase in carbon taxes, greater investment in sustainable business, reduction in pollution and greater protection of Europe's wilderness areas, national parks, and green spaces.
Under the EU's current emissions targets, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions would be reduced 40 percent by 2030 from 1990 levels. Von der Leyen's deal wants to increase reductions to at least 50 percent.
Is this declaration by the EU a big deal? A UN study released this week warned that greenhouse gas emissions must decline 7.6 percent every year for the next decade in order to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.
More about European parliament, climate emergency, cop25, Ursula von der Leyen, Environment
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