UN Climate Action Summit concludes with insufficient EU and global pledges

74th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
Date: 23/09/2019. Location: New York. © European Union, 2019. Source: EC – Audiovisual Service. Photographer: Bryan R. Smith

The UN Climate Action Summit took place last Monday in New York but the commitments announced were not enough to counterbalance the devastating effects of climate change which is damaging our planet with high temperatures and tremendous natural phenomena.

Although the EU is an ambitious contributor to the global efforts to fight climate change and reverse the ongoing crisis, it has not yet committed to increase its 2030 pledges. As showed in the report released last Sunday for the purposes of the summit, the sea-level rises, global warming, shrinking ice-mass and the carbon pollution have been all dramatically accelerated during the last few years. The latter urges for immediate actions.

UN Climate Action Summit

World leaders were asked to come to the most populous city of the United States to attend the Climate Action Summit and demonstrate their plans that would cut emissions to net zero by 2050. However, only a group of 77 countries confirmed to implement this target whereas 70 countries stated their strong will to enhance their climate commitments next year.

The main point though is how the world will meet this plan and consequently keep the temperature below 1.5 degree Celsius, which is the goal of the Paris Agreement. There is still a long way to go on that front as most nations, even the richest ones, are struggling to find out how to implement all the remedy actions needed.

More specifically, climate advisors of the UK and France have expressed their utmost concerns about the current plan, despite the fact that both countries have legislated to reduce their emissions to zero by 2050.

Climate reports show negative prospects

The Science Advisory Group to UN Climate Action Summit has released a High Level Synthesis Report showing its findings on the current Earth system situation, the effects of human intervention and the future of the environment. Basically, the report underscores that the period 2015-2019 was the warmest one reaching record levels of 1.1°C above pre-industrial times leading to climate impacts which hit harder and sooner than predictions. Furthermore, global fossil CO2 emissions and greenhouse gas concentrations grow faster than ever before. This means that climate policies’ ambitions need to be tripled now to reach even the 2°C goal.

And as if it was not enough, the IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC), which is expected to be released today, pictures the situation even more gloomy as it mentions that oceans and icy regions have been hit too hard and in ways that global effects seem irreversible, according to a draft version seen by AFP.

Has the EU an answer to this?

The EU has been contributing a lot to the climate change race and is attempting now to pledge that its economy will be carbon neutral by 2050. In detail, Germany announced last Friday that will it cut 55% of its emission by 2030 and become a carbon neutral nation by 2050. What is more, Ms. Merkel’s government announced that nuclear and coal power will be phased out by 2022 and 2038 respectively while Germany’s contribution to the Green Climate Fund for developing countries will be doubled. France, Greece and Bulgaria have also pledged to evaluate their national targets for renewable energy and increase the energy share of wind, solar and other renewables to 33%, 35% and 37% of their energy consumption by 2030.

However, the EU bloc hasn’t unanimously agreed to become the first carbon neutral economy by 2050 because four nations (Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary and Poland) were still against this goal. This left the Old Continent behind on its climate pledges and showed that it can be once more trapped due to its politics. Macron particularly blamed mainly Poland for missing this target and mentioned that: “We had the carbon neutrality agenda of 2050, we have four countries that blocked, the reality is there is one country that blocked everything, it’s Poland. My objective over the next few months is to convince the Polish to move”.

The day after tomorrow

The scene will have to move now to Parque Bicentenario Cerrillos in Santiago de Chile where the 25th United Nations Climate Change conference (COP25) will be held from 2 to 13 December 2019.

The EU and especially the European Commission’s President-elect Ursula von der Leyen has about two months to gather and show how united is the bloc against climate change. The goal to be achieved by 2030 is not enough to reduce the climate impacts not only as far as the EU is concerned but also for the other countries in the world. Wendel Trio, Director of leading NGO Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe said yesterday on this topic: “Despite millions of people on the streets demanding urgent action now, and the impacts of climate change becoming more and more severe, Europe’s leaders missed a key opportunity to back deeper emission cuts by 2030. They clearly came unprepared to do what they were asked to: offer plans to increase the 2030 target.”

All in all, it seems that the challenges are increasing rapidly but the leaders are not setting efficient and adequate targets to deal with this crisis. Concrete actions are needed as time is running out and future generations feel increasingly worried and “cry out” for help in order to timely save our planet.

The truth is that everyone is responsible for the situation and has to bear a fair share in order to reverse the dreadful environmental consequences and draw a sustainable future.

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