Photo: / Erik Parker CC BY-NC

Editorial: Europe should decarbonise its economy by 2030

Most governments and civil society are aware that the national and international reduction commitments for greenhouse gases made so far are much too weak to avoid dangerous climate change, and that global decarbonisation is essential by 2050 at the latest. The clock is ticking fast 1 (page 9). But the economic interests of the fossil fuel sector are so strong that over the 30 years since the greenhouse effect was brought to public attention in the Brundtland Report, greenhouse gas emissions have continued to rise globally.

Nevertheless, with the support of civil society, the negotiators of the UN Climate Convention have gradually managed to establish a global framework and agreements that could avert catastrophic climate change on a global level. The Paris Agreement is one such a step forward, but as we all know the commitments to emission reductions made in Paris are not yet adequate to avoid dangerous climate change. One of the key decisions reached in Paris was therefore to review the commitments in light of the latest climate science as soon as possible. So now, in 2018, two years after the Paris conference, the first review is to be held in the UN. The next review after that will start in 2019, when the UN will review the adequacy of the targets in the UN climate convention and the 1.5/2°C target of the Paris Agreement. Another review, known as the Global Stocktake, will be held in 2022–2023.

The wish of civil society is that governments will decide during these three reviews to sharpen their national emission reduction plans so that there is a very good chance that the 1.5°C target from the Paris Agreement can be achieved. The 2018 review, called the Talanoa Facilitative Dialogue, was launched at the COP23 UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn in November 2017 and will run throughout 2018.

“Talanoa is aiming for higher climate ambition,” the UN says in a statement, adding that: “The Paris Agreement’s central goal is keep the global average temperature rise to below 2°C and as close as possible to 1.5°C. Current global ambition to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to prepare societies to resist increasing climate change is not enough to achieve this under the current national climate action plans, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).”

It is vital that during the Talanoa Dialogue the rich industrialised countries acknowledge the decision from Paris that “this Agreement will be implemented to reflect equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances”. If developing countries are to ramp up their NDCs they will need strong financial support from rich industrialised nations. The wealthy nations must also greatly increase their own mitigation ambitions for the pre-2020 period, and for 2025 and 2030. The EU and all other European countries should lead this task in the Talanoa Dialogue and present a vision to considerably raise their climate targets for 2020 and 2030.

AirClim has published two studies 2,3 this month that describe a vision for reaching zero carbon in eight Nordic and Baltic countries by 2030 (page 20-21) and previously released a list of the 10 best climate measures for the Baltic region and Russia, Poland and Germany 4. AirClim has also presented a sustainable agriculture vision for the region 5 (page 24). These visions and measures could also apply to the whole of Europe, for new climate targets and the development of National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs). To help achieve the 1.5°C target, wealthy Europe should decarbonise its economy by 2030 and give poorer developing countries a better chance of decarbonising by 2040–2050.

Reinhold Pape







In this issue