EU Parliament Declares ‘Climate and Environmental Emergency’
European Parliament declared a "climate and environmental emergency" Thursday, calling on the European Commission to make sure all legislation and budgets align with the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
In another resolution, the group called on the EU to submit a strategy to the UN Convention on Climate Change for reaching carbon neutrality by 2050. The European Commission has already proposed a 2050 carbon neutrality goal, but the opposition of Poland, Hungary and Czechia has stopped it from earning the endorsement of the European Council.
@UNEP MEPs are calling for declaration of climate emergency in the EU. 🌿 EU should commit to net zero emissions by… https://t.co/D5JYl13Dff— European Parliament (@European Parliament)1574956110.0
The votes come less than one week before countries are set to gather in Madrid for the UN COP25 Climate Change Conference.
"The fact that Europe is the first continent to declare 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," French liberal Member of European Parliament (MEP) Pascal Canfin, who wrote a draft of the climate emergency resolution, said, according to The Guardian.
Some climate activists applauded the European Parliament's emergency declaration, but also urged the EU to back up words with deeds.
"We can't solve a crisis without treating it as one," Swedish school-strike leader Greta Thunberg tweeted from the Atlantic Ocean, as she sails back from North America to attend COP25. "Let's hope they now take drastic sufficient action."
Day 16. In the middle of the ocean I’m struck by the news that the EU Parliament has declared a climate emergency.… https://t.co/mYa2EgHtSV— Greta Thunberg (@Greta Thunberg)1574957987.0
Greenpeace EU climate policy adviser Sebastian Mang shared a similar sentiment before the vote.
"Our house is on fire. The European parliament has seen the blaze, but it's not enough to stand by and watch," Mang said, according to The Guardian.
The first resolution was adopted 429 to 225 with 19 abstentions, and the second passed 430 to 190 with 34 abstentions.
The votes came a day after European Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen, the first woman to lead the EU's executive arm, pledged that the EU would be the first continent to reach net zero emissions by 2050, The Washington Post reported. She has promised a European Green Deal, which the commission will draft within 100 days of taking office in December.
"If there is one area where the world needs our leadership, it is on protecting our climate," she said, as The Washington Post reported. "This is an existential issue for Europe — and for the world."
The European Parliament's resolutions Thursday will put additional pressure on her to make good on her promises, and even increase them. Von der Leyen has proposed a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to at least 50 percent of 1990 levels by 2030, but the second resolution called on her to make that a 55 percent reduction. The current target is 40 percent, which activists and Green politicians argue is not ambitious enough, according to The Guardian.
A UN study released this week warned that greenhouse gas emissions must decline 7.6 percent every year for the next decade in order to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.
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Four years ago, Jacob Abel cast his first presidential vote for Donald Trump. As a young conservative from Concord, North Carolina, the choice felt natural.
But this November, he plans to cast a "protest vote" for a write-in candidate or abstain from casting a ballot for president. A determining factor in his 180-degree turn? Climate change.
Fractures Among Young Climate Conservatives<p>While young conservatives have united around the urgency of climate change, they remain divided over how to bring their concerns to the ballot box. Some embrace right-wing <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-attacks-republican-convention/2020/08/24/434e5b46-e66d-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html" target="_blank">attacks</a> painting Biden as a "tool of the left" and find his climate agenda "radical." Others can't find a way to justify voting for Trump, even if it means breaking with their party.</p><p>Patrick Mann from Orange County, California, voted for Trump in 2016. But today, he's leading Aggies for Joe at Texas A&M University and is co-founder of Texas Students for Biden. </p><p>Mann grew up watching wildfires ravage his home state, nearly forcing his family to evacuate in 2017. The GOP is failing to "meet the moment" for climate action, Mann said. He's hoping Biden will deliver on a promise to "<a href="https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/caucus/2020/01/06/joe-biden-democrat-president-iowa-caucus-restore-soul-our-nation/2806422001/" target="_blank">restore the soul of our nation</a>." </p><p>Taylor Walker from Pensacola, Florida, is also determined to make her voice heard on climate, including by casting her first-ever vote for president—but not for Biden.</p>
A False Equivalency<p>Young climate conservatives may fear climate denial and delayed climate action, but more than that, they fear the growing political momentum around the Green New Deal, the massive spending it entails and <a href="https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/" target="_blank">Biden's citing of it</a> as a "crucial framing for meeting the climate challenges we face."</p><p>Many don't want to split with their party to support a Democrat whose <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/09/03/757220130/joe-biden-on-bipartisanship-gun-control-and-regrets-over-inaction-after-a-traged" target="_blank">allegedly bipartisan intentions</a> they doubt. If stymieing what they consider a radical green agenda means re-electing a climate change denying president, so be it. </p><p>"I'm scared of climate change, but I'm also scared of the Green New Deal and what it means for America," said Ben Mutolo, a republicEN spokesperson and junior at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. </p><p>Mutolo felt encouraged by former Ohio Governor John Kasich's <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/2020/08/17/kasich-speech-to-democratic-convention-follows-years-of-building-conservative-credentials/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">appearance</a> at the Democratic National Convention, but he still struggles to see himself voting for Biden. Though the candidate paints himself as a <a href="https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-08-12/harris-biden-different-generation-similar-political-instinct" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">centrist,</a> Mutolo believes he's "cozying up to the ultra-progressive left." </p><p>Mutolo, who wants to see market-based climate solutions like a carbon tax, feels torn between a candidate whose climate plan relies on taking an "<a href="https://joebiden.com/environmental-justice-plan/#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">All-of-Government approach</a>," and one with no efforts to reign in global warming at all. <span></span></p><p>Leiserowitz said he appreciated how a conservative might feel Biden's climate plan "doesn't jive with their limited government, free-market approach."</p><p>But he sees a strong distinction between voting for a presidential candidate with a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/us/politics/biden-climate-plan.html" target="_blank">$2 trillion climate plan</a> that includes large renewable energy investments, which have <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-april-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bipartisan support</a>, and a candidate trying "to take the country in the opposite direction, towards more fossil fuels."</p>
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