Three EU chiefs present green revolution at Madrid COP25
03 December 2019 | Mitigation
The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, promised on Monday at the UN climate conference (COP25) in Madrid that the European Green Deal "is Europe's new growth strategy" - saying it will cut emissions while also creating jobs and improving quality of life.
"This will include extending emission trading to all relevant sectors [e.g. shipping], clean, affordable and secure energy, the boosting of the circular economy, a farm to fork strategy as well as a biodiversity strategy," von der Leyen said, in her first major public engagement since taking over the job at the weekend.
The first-ever European climate law to achieve a transition to climate-neutrality by 2050 will be officially presented in March 2020, although the package will be unveiled by the commissioner for the Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, on December 11.
Von der Leyen said she wanted "the European Green Deal to become Europe's hallmark" in order to make the EU the world's first climate-neutral continent by 2050.
According to the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, it was now time for a "green revolution", following the industrial revolution, and the technological revolution.
"But we must never forget the people behind our policies. We must be just and socially-balanced," he said, adding that not all countries have the same starting point in this transition.
"Protecting our planet is the right choice, the only choice," he added.
A new report by the Universal Ecological Fund (FEU) has highlighted that some European Union member states are "still dependent on fossil fuels for their electricity and heat generation".
The largest CO2 contributors within the EU in 2018 were Germany (22 percent), the United Kingdom (10.7 percent), Italy (10 percent), Poland (9.6 percent) and France (9.3 percent).
And, worldwide, some 136 of the 184 national pledges made for the UN Paris Agreement will still be insufficient to keep global temperature rises as close as possible to 1.5 degrees.
"Because the climate pledges are voluntary, technicalities, loopholes and conditions continue to postpone decisive global action to reduce emissions and address climate change," the report states.
UN secretary-general Antonio Gutierrez pointed out at the beginning of the Madrid conference that according to a new UN report the world needed to reduce emissions by 7.6 percent each year between 2020 and 2030 to meet the Paris objectives.
"It is imperative that governments not only honour their national contributions under the Paris Agreement, [but] they [also] need to substantially increase their ambition," said Gutierrez, who believes that youth "leadership" and "mobilisation" contrasts with government inaction.
MEPs visit next week
According to the president of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, the response to climate change is multilateralism.
An official European parliament delegation of 16 MEPs, headed by parliament's committee on environment, public health and food safety (ENVI) first vice-chair Bas Eickhout (the Greens/EFA), will take part in the COP25 from 9 to 14 December.
Last Thursday, MEPs declared a "climate emergency" and called on the new European Commission to include a 55 percent reduction target of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. However, this might not be enough.
On a national level, MEPs called on member states to now consider aviation and shipping in their national contribution plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to at least double their contributions to the international Green Climate Fund - both initiatives under the UN framework on climate change.