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The European Union strives for less than 2 degrees temperature rise this century in comparison with the pre-industrial times. In order to reach this goal, scientists have calculated that the carbon emission should be reduced by 80% in 2050 (1). There are different ways in which this reduction could be reached: achieve a higher energy efficiency, increase the use of renewable energy, and reduce the share of polluting energy sources are ways to decrease the greenhouse gasses emissions.
Every ten years, the European Commission proposes new mid-term energy targets. The current energy targets are set for 2020, and the first energy proposal for 2030 was recently voted upon in the Parliament. The proposal of the European Commission for 2030 is a 40% reduction of greenhouse gasses and reach a 27% (non-binding) share in renewable energies in the mix. The Parliament voted in favour on a resolution of 40% reduction of carbon emission, 30% share of the renewable energy market and 40% energy efficiency improvement by 2030. The Parliament criticised in this way the proposal of the European Commission (2): the renewable energy target is set to 20% in 2020, and increasing it only by 7% in 2030 would be unambitious. Furthermore, there are no national targets for renewable energy, which makes the Member States unaccountable. Additionally, the energy efficiency should be a very important objective, and there is no target set about this topic in the proposal of the Commission right now. However, the resolution of the EP is not binding, and the final proposal will be voted upon by the new Parliament in October.
In an analysis of the Friends of the Earth, a decrease of 60% of carbon emission would be in line with the targets of 2050, instead of the 40% proposed right now. In total there should be a reduction of 80% in carbon emission by 2050 to strive for less than 2 degrees temperature rise at the end of this century (compared to the pre-industrial times). The reduction of only 40% in 2030 means that after 2030 there should be still an additional reduction of 40% in 20 years. There are no changes in the Emission Trade System so far, and the carbon prices will be low until 2030 when nothing is done (3). Internationally, Europe will continue the trend of losing its leading position in carbon emission with this proposal. The US and China will probably have more ambitious plans and targets to reduce their carbon emission in the future.
We wonder: where is the voice of the scientist and the youth in this proposal? The knowledge of the scientists is used to support decisions when it is in the benefit of the decision-makers, but non-scientific arguments become suddenly more important when the scientific facts are not pointing in the direction of the interest of the political forces. The youth has the power to reform the present in order to preserve the future; their voice and their concerns should be heard!
For many European citizens, the legislators in Brussels seems to be the big angry power which limits the growth of their countries when they impose a limitation of the carbon emissions. It is the responsibility of governments to explain why these energy targets are so important for the future of Europe, and show that this is the only way for a long term successful economy. We should develop not by bringing the healthy future of our planet and children in danger, but striving for a sustainable Europe.
To the decision makers we would like to say: about the importance of a sustainable future, do not only talk but act accordingly!Tweet
by Lies Craeynest, Oxfam EU’s climate change expert
Climate change is the biggest threat to our chances of winning the fight against hunger. As governments gather in Japan to agree a major new scientific report, which is expected to highlight the grave dangers climate change presents to food production, a new report from Oxfam demonstrates how the world is woefully underprepared for it for the impacts.
Worryingly, the impacts of climate change on food are likely to be far more serious and hit much sooner than previously thought. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s Fifth Assessment Report, due to be published on 31 March, is expected to warn that climate change will lead to declines in global agricultural yields of up to 2 per cent each decade at the same time as demand for food increases by 14 per cent per decade.
Hunger is not inevitable. If the EU wants to play a serious role in eradicating hunger in the next decade, it should start with taking a pioneering stance in the fight against climate change. We will only have a chance to stop the worst climate impacts on hunger if the EU steps up its global leadership ahead of the climate negotiations in Paris next year. That means agreeing as soon as possible to cut greenhouse emissions by at least 55% by 2030, as part of the EU’s new climate and energy package. Anything less does not give us enough of a chance to keep global warming below the dangerous 2 degree limit and will not give a strong enough signal to governments and business across the world that climate change needs to be tackled and that it can be done.
Food production is already being hit in Europe. In the UK earlier this year over 5,000 properties and thousands of hectares of farmland were submerged beneath floodwaters. Meanwhile, the 2003 heat wave saw EU countries lose more than €13 billion worth of produce as crops were unable to grow. If the impacts on domestic production weren’t serious enough, Europe also imports more than 70% of its food from developing countries, many of which are at great risk of climate impacts.
Oxfam’s new briefing paper, ‘Hot and Hungry: How to stop climate change derailing the fight against hunger’ analyses ten key factors that will have an increasingly important influence on countries’ ability to feed their people in a warming world. Across all ten areas, Oxfam found serious gaps between what governments are doing and what they need to do to protect our food systems.
The ten gaps, “failing” policy areas that will undermine the world’s ability to feed itself in a warming world, are depicted below:
Without urgent action to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the impacts will become more serious. It is estimated there could be 25 million more malnourished children under the age of five in 2050 compared to a world without climate change – that’s the equivalent of all under-fives in the US and Canada combined.
Oxfam is calling on governments and business across the world to act now to stop climate change making people hungry by building communities’ resilience to hunger and climate change, slashing greenhouse gas emissions and securing international agreements to tackle climate and hunger.
Individuals can join the global campaign to stop climate hunger at www.oxfam.org/foodclimatejustice