Stowarzyszenie Projektów Międzynarodowych „INPRO”

CLIMATE CHANGE: THE FORGOTTEN GOAL?

Marta Falgas

CLIMATE CHANGE: THE FORGOTTEN GOAL?

Written by: Marta Falgas

“The coronavirus pandemic is now the most urgent threat facing humanity, but we must not forget that climate change is the greatest long-term threat”, said the UN Secretary-General for Climate Change, Patricia Espinosa, in a statement announcing the postponement of the climate summit scheduled for the end of the year.

The quarantine of countries have made the planet breathe. We are seeing situations that are difficult to imagine, dolphins on the Costa Brava, fish in the canals of Venice or a blue sky with a very low percentage of pollution in Wuhan (China). This reality demonstrates what the American actor Harrison Ford remembered at the UN Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, California, in 2018: “Nature does not need people; people do; nature can survive the extinction of human beings, but we could not survive without it”.

Many people have been aware of climate change for years, but even more have seen the harm that society does to the earth, after the world has reduced its activity so much for Covid-19. It is difficult to count the protests that have taken place in recent years, such as the “friday for future”. However, it is more difficult to specify the role of the European Union (EU) in combating it.

Last year, several green policies were approved, including a circular economy where some single-use plastic items are banned, a reduction in CO2 in transport where stricter carbon emission limits are set or cleaner energy that goes beyond prioritizing renewables.

The question here is whether European countries comply or not. It is not a secret that the EU is often seen as an institution inaccessible to citizens. It is presented as an executive who looks after the population, what is not well explained is how it helps them in their day to day life. Specifically, with global warming, many people are willing to slow it down, but sometimes with little hope that politicians will make it possible.

The advisor to the NGO Greenpeace expert on EU climate policy, Sebastian Mang, has a clear position. He consider that “national targets with penalties must be introduced to ensure that governments take responsibility for significantly reducing emissions.”

To see considerable change, stopping global warming requires political change with more social responsibility and stricter laws. The environmental impact we see during the pandemic, it would be useful to see it as an opportunity to start doing what, for now, are just approaches.

When US President, Donald Trump, withdraws from the Paris agreement in late 2019, the EU remains the largest economy capable of taking the necessary steps and leading the transition to a fair and green economy.

One thing is certain, the EU is committed to the cause. Faced with the demand of citizens to fight climate change, the European executive has been forced to shorten deadlines for action that were already on the table. In the same way, all European political groups, whatever their ideology, have climate change-related policies included in their electoral programs. It remains to be seen whether they comply or not.

The Green Deal presented by the European Commission in December last year aims to reach, by 2050, the elimination of fossil fuels in the economy. However, when this deal was presented, there was still no news about coronavirus, at least not as a pandemic, so this agreement does not cover policies against climate change in times of Covid-19. However, its president, Ursula Von der Leyen, says the agreement will continue to be the main focus of her presidency.

The EU’s greenest political parties say that the solution to this socio-health crisis must necessarily go through a sustainable way out and effective climate action.Coronavirus and climate change should be seen as two emergencies holding hands. It’s not about taking resources away from health care to give them to climate action, it’s about building this recovery as we move forward with the environmental struggle.

There is no excuse anymore. Most citizens are willing to fight climate change. Is the state of Europe willing to prioritize the will of the people over the pressures of the de factual powers?