As a network of relief and development organisations, we are writing to you ahead of the upcoming European Summit, where you and other European leaders aim to agree on an ambitious 2030 climate and energy policy framework. The recent UN climate summit created new political momentum. Public mobilisation reached an unprecedented scale, with half a million ordinary citizens, activists and policymakers marching united in the call for climate action ambitious enough to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and to lead us to societies based on 100% sustainable renewable energies.
We marched to remind our leaders that the poorest and most marginalised people in the world, especially women and children, are suffering the most from the current effects of climate change. According to the World Bank’s landmark report and most recently the IPCC fifth assessment report, rising greenhouse gas emissions are driving up temperatures, shifting rainfall patterns and making extreme weather events more frequent and more intense, with devastating consequences and increasing hunger, thirst and poverty. Impacts on global food security are worsening and happening sooner than previously estimated. The ultimate injustice of climate change is that those who have done the least to cause the problem are forced to live on the frontline of its impacts with little means to protect themselves. At the same time, the New Climate Economy Report, released last month, clearly showcases that climate action and economic development can positively reinforce each other if policies are adequately designed.
We call on you to champion the need for urgent EU leadership and to help steer global climate action to protect the poorest countries and most vulnerable communities. We firmly believe that deeper ambition is needed at EU level. Only this can ensure our climate and energy policies are coherent a) with our poverty reduction goals and b) with the already existing commitments made by the EU in Copenhagen, in particular the goal to limit global warming to well below 2, potentially even 1.5 degrees. Most importantly, the roadmap for moving to a low-carbon economy in 2050 sets the objective of reducing emissions by 80-95%.
Thus, we ask the EU members to agree an ambitious 2030 climate and energy policy framework during the EU summit of October 23rd and 24th. In particular, we urge you to:
Ensure the option to move the EU target for domestic greenhouse gas emission reductions well beyond 40% is explicitly kept open, for example by including “at least” along with the level of the target, while ideally indicating a target of minus 55% domestic reduction; Ensure that it will not undermine efforts in the UNFCCC for 5year “commitment periods”, by agreeing to set a more immediate goal for 2025 combined with a strong ratchet-up mechanism; and that it is environmentally effective by avoiding harmful loopholes;Increase the level of ambition of the binding EU-level target for renewables beyond 27% (a 45% target is an adequate one given our global objectives) and ensure it is accompanied by an adequate sustainability framework; Increase the level of the EU energy efficiency target beyond 30% (40% was recommended) to reflect the cost-effective potential of energy-efficiency, and make it binding. In addition the EU needs to commit to pay its fair share of international climate finance in order to assist developing countries in shifting to low-emission and climate-resilient development pathways.
The coming months are crucial to set the EU and the world on a path to avoid the most dangerous impacts of climate change, ahead of the UNFCCC climate conference in Paris in 2015. By not agreeing on the framework now, the EU would create a disaster for the international process and undermine the efforts of all those who are fighting hard in other countries to get ambitious Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) delivered early 2015. However, the damage would be similarly high if the EU agrees a fixed framework which obviously lags behind the ambition that is required, and which does not include a clear signal to other nations that the EU is willing to do more.
We urge you to take our recommendations into account in the final preparations for the October European Council.
By Seamus Jeffreson