The EU has declared a global “climate emergency” ahead of next week’s international COP25 climate summit.
In a symbolic move that supporters hope will put pressure on the new European Commission to deliver an ambitious set of green policies, MEPs on Thursday voted in favour of declaring the emergency by 429 votes in favour and 226 against.
“We are meeting the expectations of European citizens,” said Pascal Canfin, a French En Marche MEP who drew up the motion. “I am proud to have gathered a majority in the European Parliament to make Europe the first continent to declare a climate and environmental emergency.”
The non-binding declaration comes two days before Ursula von der Leyen takes office as new European Commission president promising to deliver a Green New Deal that will set the EU on a path to becoming the world’s first carbon neutral power by 2050.
The parliament on Thursday also backed raising the EU’s emissions reduction targets from 40 per cent to 55 per cent by 2030 — a promise that had divided centre-right conservatives who have argued against imposing onerous targets on businesses.
Ms von der Leyen will spend her first day in office on Monday in Madrid for the UN COP25 climate summit, where she will deliver a speech on Europe’s green efforts.
EU officials expect the Green New Deal proposal to be unveiled on December 11, a day before a European leaders’ summit at which Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic will be urged to agree on the bloc’s carbon neutrality by 2050. The three countries are the only EU members yet to sign up to the target. MEPs urged the EU28 to make the declaration in Madrid next week.
The EU’s Green parties have pushed for even higher targets to meet the promises made under the Paris climate accord — including a 65 per cent carbon reduction by 2030. Bas Eickhout, a Dutch Green MEP, said the climate emergency had to be more than a “symbolic gesture”.
“This must be followed by serious and credible actions,” he said.
Meanwhile, European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde is pushing for climate change to be part of a strategic review of the bank’s purpose. The plan underlines Ms Lagarde’s declared goal as president to make climate change a “mission-critical” priority for the central bank.
The agenda of the ECB’s review has yet to be finalised but two people involved in the discussions said on Wednesday that the environment was likely to feature in the first such comprehensive review for the institution since 2003.