Youth outrage as EU reveals no intention to fight climate change

Published on Monday, 03 September 2012 09:47
Posted by Scott Buckler

Today, young people across Europe expressed outrage as the EU revealed its intention to stick to an embarrassingly weak CO2 reduction target of 20% by 2020

At an informal session of the UN climate negotiations in Bangkok, Thailand, the EU announced the plan, explaining that "25% is not reality, it is wishful thinking." This is despite repeated warnings from the scientific community that sticking the current pledge of 20% will risk a catastrophic 6°C global temperature rise.

The EU revealed that it is closing discussion on the 2020 targets to focus on emissions reductions for 2030 – meaning that it will not consider further progress on emissions reductions for another decade. Increasing pre-2020 emission reduction targets was a key part of the Durban agreement, but the EU this week rejected a part of the Durban package which would have ensured immediate emissions cuts before looking to a 2030 climate deal.

Although the EU has traditionally held a more hesitant stance regarding an increase in ambition, it has previously claimed to be willing to "speed up progress" if "others will too" (Connie Hedegaard, Twitter 29/08/12). In today's highly disappointing revelation of its true intentions, an EU delegate claimed that the "actions" of countries should be the focus, using vocabulary widely recognised to allude to developing countries' commitments.

The EU claimed that it was  "unlikely to see changes in pledges this year or in other parts of the world." The claim was an apparent oversight of developing countries' commitments which have long surpassed developed countries' low pledges to reducing emissions. As a result of today's announcement, the EU's stance is fast becoming known among civil society as the "false face" of EU climate diplomacy.

As many have looked to the EU to take leadership at the UN's climate talks, the announcement will no doubt come as a damning blow. Millions around the world, particularly in the poorest areas, are already living with the effects of climate change. As the poorest suffer, today's announcement indicates that the world's richest are ignoring their responsibility to act first and fastest.

"With this move the EU has confirmed that it's putting short-term, private profit ahead of the future wellbeing of its population, buddying-up with dirty fuel corporations instead of accepting the responsibility it has towards developing countries," said Lucy Patterson, 25, a campaigner from the UK Youth Climate Coalition and Push Europe. "We need the EU to commit to at least 40% domestic reductions by 2020 to prevent catastrophic climate change – 20% is shameful and we will not accept it."

"With this decision, the EU is speaking the language of polluters and not its own people. We as young Europeans want to highlight that EU officials are not representing our views, and we would like to apologise to the international community for their actions. We urgently need EU leaders to face up to their responsibility. Act now, strengthen emission reductions." said Koen Verbruggen, 28, from Friends of the Earth Flanders-Brussels and Power Shift Belgium.

"Europe has the potential to make a transition to a low-carbon economy that is based on social and environmental justice, whilst helping poor nations to do the same," added Marco Cadena from Push Europe. "We still believe this is possible. However, we need better leadership. Decisions should be in line with science, and they should be made by informed and responsible leaders, not by corporations. We are at the beginning of a full-scale climate crisis and we can't afford to sit and watch oil companies rake in their profit while current and future generations are wiped out."

Source: ©Youth Climate Coalition- Press Release

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