Greta Thunberg: EU's New Climate Law Is ‘Surrender’
The executive branch of the European Union announced a "climate law" Wednesday that would make it legally binding for the 27-nation group to achieve zero emissions by 2050, but activists including Greta Thunberg say it does not go far enough.
"'Net zero emissions by 2050' for the EU equals surrender. It means giving up," Thunberg and 33 other youth climate activists wrote in an open letter published Tuesday and reported by Reuters. "We don't just need goals for just 2030 or 2050. We, above all, need them for 2020 and every following month and year to come."
Thunberg said the law abandoned the goals of the Paris agreement because the European Green Deal it is a part of gives the world a less than 50 percent chance of limiting greenhouse gas emissions to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, which was the Paris accord's ideal target, BBC News reported. UN scientists have also said that limiting warming to 1.5 degrees could prevent four inches of sea level rise and keep hundreds of millions of people safe from climate crisis and poverty by 2050.
The European Green Deal also includes a €100 billion ($112 billion) Just Transition Mechanism to help fossil-fuel dependent countries transition to renewable energy, a proposal to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 50 percent of 1990 levels by 2030, a plan to move towards a "circular economy" and the proposed climate law, BBC News explained. However, activists like Thunberg think benchmarks like 2030 and 2050 push action too far into the future.
"In November 2019 the European parliament declared a climate and environment emergency," Thunberg said in a meeting with the European Parliament's environment committee Wednesday, as The Guardian reported. "You stated that yes, the house is actually burning, this was no false alarm, but then you went back inside, finished your dinner and watched your movie and went to bed without even calling the fire department. When your house is on fire you don't wait a few more years to start putting it out, and yet this is what the commission are proposing today."
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, meanwhile, championed the new effort.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen gives a press conference on the European Climate Law at the EU headquarters in Brussels on March 4. Europe unveils a landmark law on March 4 to achieve "climate neutrality" by 2050. JOHN THYS / AFP / Getty Images
"We are acting today to make the EU the world's first climate neutral continent by 2050. The Climate Law is the legal translation of our political commitment, and sets us irreversibly on the path to a more sustainable future," she said, according to a commission press release.
European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans, meanwhile, argued that the law was important to keep the climate crisis on the agenda as Europe confronted other emergencies like the coronavirus.
"Even if the Eye of Sauron is on something else for a bit, the trajectory to 2050 will be clear," he said, according to The Guardian. "Because we discipline ourselves with the climate law."
The law would also require an impact statement for setting new 2030 targets and, beginning in 2023, introduce five year assessments to track the EU's progress towards meeting its goals, Salon explained.
The climate law will have to be approved both by the European Parliament and the EU member states, according to Reuters. The 2050 goal would be EU-wide, meaning that some countries could meet it later if others achieved carbon neutrality before 2050.
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As protests are taking place across our nation in response to the killing of George Floyd, we want to acknowledge the importance of this protest and the Black Lives Matter movement. Over the years, we've aimed to be sensitive and prioritize stories that highlight the intersection between racial and environmental injustice. From our years of covering the environment, we know that too often marginalized communities around the world are disproportionately affected by environmental crises.
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The big three broadcast channels failed to cover the disproportionate impacts of extreme weather on low-income communities or communities of color during their primetime coverage of seven hurricanes and one tropical storm over three years, a Media Matters for America analysis revealed.
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By Cathy Cassata
With more than 1.7 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States and more than 100,000 deaths from the virus, physicians face unprecedented challenges in their efforts to keep Americans safe.
They also encounter what some call an "infodemic," an outbreak of misinformation that's making it more difficult to treat patients.
When Leaders and Doctors Spread Misinformation<p>When people in charge of towns, cities, states, and countries spread misinformation, the potential for belief in misinformation to result in policies can have harmful effects.</p><p><a href="https://www.northwell.edu/find-care/find-a-doctor?q=Bruce+E.+Hirsch%2C+MD&insurance=&location=&query_type=provider&physician_partners=false&default_view=list&gender=&language=&sort=relevancy" target="_blank">Dr. Bruce E. Hirsch</a>, attending physician and assistant professor in the infectious disease division of Northwell Health in Manhasset, New York, says an example of this is when President Trump informed the public he was taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventive measure.</p><p>"To approach this enormous challenge, we need some intellectual honesty and clarity, and to disregard expertise and to make decisions and model decisions based on hunches is inviting us to handle challenges on the basis of rumor and uninformed opinion. The magnitude of that error is epic," Hirsch told Healthline.</p><p>Stukus agrees, noting that the harm of this proclamation is documented.</p><p>"Early on when the president touted the benefits of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, people started to hoard this medicine, and state boards had to shut it down because they were getting so many prescriptions for this unproven therapy that it was not available for those who truly needed it, such as those who have lupus and autoimmune conditions," Stukus said.</p><p>He adds that calls to poison control centers increased after the president suggested using disinfectant to prevent contracting the new coronavirus.</p>
Listen to Science, Even When it Changes<p>When recommendations change or evidence flip-flops, skepticism may arise. However, Stukus says change is the beauty of science.</p><p>"That shows us that we can evolve, and if the evidence shows that our prior thoughts were incorrect, we need to be able to change our recommendations and advice based upon the best quality of evidence at the time," he said.</p><p>Pierre agrees.</p><p>"Science is an iterative process, whereby we arrive at facts and truth through repeated and controlled observations. That means that it's inherently self-correcting as we revise conclusions based on ongoing research. Scientific facts aren't immutable dogma chiseled on a tablet. They change based on the best available evidence we have at a given point in time," he said.</p><p>Because research of COVID-19 has only been underway for 6 months, information is evolving rapidly, and new information may contradict old.</p><p>"There's still much we don't know about exactly how [COVID-19] spreads, what effects it has on the body, or how to best treat it. That means that the best available evidence is preliminary, but that doesn't mean that we should ignore it or turn to other sources of information or opinion as if they're just as valid," Pierre said.</p><p>He explains that conspiracy theories based on mistrust lead to vulnerability to misinformation.</p><p>If people mistrust science because it sometimes "changes its mind," Pierre said, "that shouldn't be used to embrace other opinions based on no evidence at all, which are typically selected based on confirmation bias: what we want to believe rather than what the objective evidence supports."</p>
Where to Find the Best Information<p>Stukus says to start with the <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html" target="_blank">CDC</a> and <a href="https://www.nih.gov/health-information/coronavirus" target="_blank">NIH</a>. Then check with your local health officials, because COVID-19 guidelines may vary depending on where you live.</p><p>If you can't find information you need or have questions specifically related to you, call your primary care doctor.</p><p>"Your personal doctor should always be a resource for individual specific questions because they know best how to apply all the nuances retaining to your health, and how to incorporate all the other general [COVID-19] recommendations," Stukus said.</p><p><a href="https://www.eehealth.org/find-a-doctor/b/boyd-laura-b/" target="_blank">Dr. Laura Boyd</a>, primary care physician at Edward-Elmhurst Health Center in Elmhurst, Illinois, says her clinic receives a lot of calls about COVID-19.</p><p>"Most doctors' offices are receiving calls and answering questions, and doing phone or video visits to help clarify and/or order testing over the phone based on patients' symptoms. It is always best to call your doctor's office first instead of worrying about symptoms and waiting too long to seek treatment," she told Healthline.</p><p>If your primary care doctor has limited testing, she suggests looking on your state's public health website for available testing sites.</p><p>With a lot of unknowns related to this virus and disease, Boyd says many patients are feeling overwhelmed and anxious for a treatment.</p><p>"Unfortunately, there is no specific medication recommended for COVID for outpatient. There are a lot of ongoing studies with various drugs going on within the hospital setting. Patients should always contact their doctors about their specific symptoms as they can treat the symptoms that go along with COVID, but there is no cure," Boyd said.</p><p>While we wait for treatment and a vaccine, Hirsch, who treats patients hospitalized for COVID-19 complications on a daily basis, says everyone can do their part by washing hands, wearing a mask, and staying 6 feet apart.</p><p>"As an infectious disease doctor working in the hospital, I see the damage of the pandemic and the worst cases of what's happening. We are trying to get the best possible outcome and confronting this overwhelming biologic reality of this terrible epidemic the best we can," Hirsch said.</p><p>Everyone at home can help in the fight too, he adds.</p><p>"Follow information that is science- and evidence-based, and avoid that which is not," he said.</p>
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