European Parliament declares global climate emergency
The world is experiencing a “climate and environment emergency,” the European Parliament proclaimed Thursday — a symbolic move for the bloc days before negotiators gather for a global climate summit in Madrid. As Politico reports, adopted during a plenary session in Strasbourg, the Parliament’s resolution “declares a climate and environment emergency; calls on the Commission, the Member States and all global actors, and declares its own commitment, to urgently take the concrete action needed in order to fight and contain this threat before it is too late.”
That follows in the footsteps of a number of national parliaments and cities that have embraced the gesture in recent months, including the U.K. parliament and New Zealand.
Incoming Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen has said climate change will be a hallmark of her presidency, and is going to Madrid to attend the opening of the COP25 summit on Monday — her first regular workday in office.
“The fact that Europe is the first Continent to declare a climate and environmental emergency, just before COP25, when the new Commission takes office, and three weeks after Donald Trump confirmed the United States' withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, is a strong message sent to citizens and the rest of the world,” Pascal Canfin, a French Renew Europe MEP and the chair of the environment committee, said after the vote. Canfin submitted the parliamentary motion.
The text was approved in Parliament by 429 votes in favor to 225 against, with 19 abstentions.
Getting the resolution agreed, however, wasn’t without its drama. The Greens group originally balked at the motion over concerns it would be a purely symbolic PR stunt — a sign of how deeply divided Europe’s political groups are on the specifics of fighting climate change.
The European People’s Party backed a separate proposal calling for “urgency” rather than declaring an emergency.
Other political groups, however, hailed the move as a decisive first step in the EU's push to become the first climate-neutral Continent on Earth. “Europe must keep its leadership in the fight against climate change,” said Eric Andrieu, a Socialist MEP from France.
The resolution is meant to raise pressure on EU countries, as well as on von der Leyen’s plans for a European Green Deal to turn the bloc climate neutral by 2050.
MEPs called on the Commission “to fully assess the climate and environmental impact of all relevant legislative and budgetary proposals, and ensure that they are all fully aligned” with keeping warming to under 1.5 degrees Celsius, the Paris Agreement's more ambitious warming limit.
MEPs also adopted their position on the COP25 climate talks, calling on the Commission to boost the bloc’s emissions reduction pledge to 55 percent by 2030 — up from the current goal of 40 percent.
While von der Leyen, a German conservative, has suggested she may raise it to 50 percent if not 55 percent under certain conditions, the higher target has triggered opposition from the right-wing European Conservatives and Reformists.
Her own party group, the European People’s Party, says it could back 50 percent but is concerned that drastically raising the bloc’s climate goal beyond that would hit jobs and competitiveness especially in poorer and more coal-reliant central and eastern European countries.