Tuesday, December 26, 2017

No change for EU on Climate Change changes

The European Union has agreed to emission reduction targets for 2030 but is far from fulfilling its duties under the Paris Agreement. European ministers met to agree a package of climate and energy targets that are to form the basis of EU legislation next year but instead of increasing its ambition, European Commission rules would keep them as they are.

Experts say they fall well short of the ambition needed to meet the Paris Agreement target of limiting global warming to maximum 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). There is a significant emissions gap between the combined action countries around the world pledged, and the overarching goal of keeping global warming below 2 degree Celsius. This will only be met if parties significantly increase their ambition in the coming years — which is foreseen in the agreement with an "ambition mechanism," where targets are reviewed every five years.
"Governments know very well that with what's currently on the table, they're actually not going to implement the Paris Agreement." Wendel Trio, director of Climate Action Network Europe, told DW. The European Union submitted its targets collectively — promising to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. To achieve this, it planned to reduce its overall energy consumption by 30 percent, and cover 27 percent of the remainder with renewables. Trio says that with the price of renewable energy falling, Europe should be able to increase its use of renewables far more, pointing out that the target was based on an impact assessment using prices from 2013 that is now very out of date. "The reality is moving much faster than the politicians seem to be willing to accept," he said.
The Institute of Applied Ecology (Öko-Institut) in Germany has calculated what measures Europe should be taking, based on the carbon budget left before breaking the 2-degree limit becomes inevitable. It says Europe must give up fossil fuels altogether by 2040, and proposes a continuous reduction of emissions until 2050, achieving a 55 percent cut by 2030 — by which time renewables should cover 40 percent of energy use.
In November, the European Parliament also recognized the need for more aggressive targets. It's Industry, Research and Energy Committee (ITRE) narrowly voted in favor of raising the energy efficiency target to 40 percent by 2030, compared to 1990 levels, and the renewables target to 35 percent by 2030. "Europe must do more, Europe must get more of its energy from renewables if it is to live up to its commitments made in Paris," the committee's José Blanco Lopez said.
Trio says the European Commission, headed by Jean-Claude Juncker, is reluctant to focus on upping climate protection, as this could become a divisive issue in Europe. "If you look at the action in the ground, emissions have more or less stalled in Europe over the last two years," Trio said, adding that countries like China, Japan and even the United States are all seeing emissions fall faster than in Europe.
The European Commission's core plan for an Energy Union, which is aimed at greater cooperation between countries and ensuring energy security, hasn't put nearly enough emphasis on climate protection. For example, the Energy Union would allow capacity payments to coal-fired powered stations to ensure energy security until 2035 — by which time environmentalist agree we should have ditched coal altogether, if we're to uphold the Paris goals. "European Union legislation would allow countries to continue subsidizing coal power plants — which contradicts not only the Paris Agreement, but also previous commitments to phase fossil fuel subsidies," Trio pointed out.
Anton Lazarus of the European Environmental Bureau says, "You have governments going to the One Planet Summit and talking the talk on climate action. Now, it's really a question of closing this gap between rhetoric and action. And this energy package was a golden opportunity to do that that, appears to be being missed before our eyes. And it's just a very disappointing end to the year."

 how does it feel to learn the EU is still granting subsidies to the fossil fuel industry? Paying more for organic food might ensure your own grocery budget doesn't support climate-harmful farming practices. But it doesn't stop big corporations polluting the planet.

"We are actually quite powerless as individuals," Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org told DW. Climate change has taken on such worrying dimensions that noble actions at home are no longer enough, McKibben said.  "The only thing an individual can do that really matters is become a little bit less of an individual and join together with others in the movements that are big and broad enough to actually change government policy." McKibben says, "we need many people in the streets demanding action and pushing governments to move much, much faster than they're currently contemplating."
This all sounds very inspiring. But there is another much more challenging step before real change happens — political change. We need to think as communities, get together to put pressure on our governments, and create new social and economic paradigms. Socialism is the only permanent solution and the only chance of not only halting it but also reversing it.

No comments: