Climate change is the biggest challenge of our generation, with severe environmental, social, and economic consequences. Across the globe, climate change is causing melting glaciers, growing deserts, rising oceans, biodiversity loss, frequent draughts, as well as more disease, poverty, and suffering. Every year, millions of people around the world are forced to abandon their lands, livelihoods and communities because of climate change. And the rate of climate-induced migration is only increasing.
The Paris Agreement adopted at COP 21 in December 2015 was a landmark in the multilateral climate change process. For the first time, a binding agreement brought all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects. Its goal is to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels. To achieve this, countries aim to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible.
While the Paris Agreement was an important step in the fight against climate change, it is only the first significant step. Governments at all levels, civil society, the scientific community, industrial actors, and citizens alike need to unite forces to achieve agreed climate targets. The European Union is leading the way through its ambitious Green Deal and Climate Law, aiming to become climate-neutral by 2050. The 2030 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target was respectively increased to at least 55%. After all these commitments and targets, it is time to walk the talk and implement concrete measures.
At Institut Vert, we believe that accelerating the green energy transition should be at the core of the EU’s commitment to tackle climate change, focused on scaling up renewable energy capacities to replace fossil fuels and nuclear energy. The EU should particularly prioritise emissions reduction measures in the transport, agriculture, and energy intensive industries (e.g., chemicals, steel, cement) sectors, as they are Europe’s highest emitters. Moreover, we need to entirely rethink the way we produce and consume, focusing on energy and resource efficiency of products and manufacturing processes. Research funds and investments need to be redirected from fossil fuels into renewable energy and conservation. And all these measures need to be coupled by a Just Transition that empowers those communities and workers most impacted by the transition to a green economy.
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