If the non-binding pledges announced by European governments in Brussels on Friday morning are an indication of the global response to climate change, say green campaigners, the world and its inhabitants are in big, big trouble.
Members of the European Commission and European Council championed the commitments for emission reductions, energy conservation, and the increase of renewable power sources that were contained in the agreement, but expert critics say the targets simply are not strong enough to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the rate demanded by the science of climate change.
“The global fight against climate change needs radical shock treatment, but what the EU is offering is at best a whiff of smelling salts.”
—Mahi Sideridou, Greenpeace
Designed to set out Europe’s collective position ahead of next year’s global climate summit in Paris, negotiators agreed to a formula that would include a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gases and a 27 percent increase in both energy efficiency and renewable energy creation, all by the year 2030.
European Commission president, Portugal’s Jose Manuel Barroso, said, “This package is very good news for our fight against climate change. No player in the world is as ambitious as the EU.”
That opinion was not shared, however, by experts at Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and Oxfam International.
“To describe 40 percent emissions cuts as adequate or ambitious, as EU leaders are doing, is dangerously irresponsible,” said Brook Riley, climate justice and energy campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe. “40 percent is off the radar of climate science. This deal does nothing to end Europe’s dependency on fossil fuels or to speed up our transition to a clean energy future. It’s a deal that puts dirty industry interests ahead of citizens and the planet.”
Oxfam International’s Natalia Alonso welcomed the 40 percent goal but said the EU details of the agreement fall “far too short of what the EU needs to do to pull its weight in the fight against climate change.” She added, “Insufficient action like this from the world’s richest countries places yet more burden on the poorest people most affected by climate change, but least responsible for causing this crisis.”
“This deal does nothing to end Europe’s dependency on fossil fuels or to speed up our transition to a clean energy future. It’s a deal that puts dirty industry interests ahead of citizens and the planet.”
— Brook Riley, Friends of the Earth
And Mahi Sideridou, managing director of Greenpeace Europe, highlighted the idea how the vague and non-binding commitments don’t nearly match the extreme urgency of the crisis.
“The global fight against climate change needs radical shock treatment, but what the EU is offering is at best a whiff of smelling salts,” declared Sideridou. “People across Europe want cleaner energy, but EU leaders are knocking the wind out of Europe’s booming renewables sector. Europe can and should do more to stop the most devastating impacts of climate change.”
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