Photo Credit: Flickr | Karan Jain
Edited with Permission by Frontier
The U.S. pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement in last June forced the European Union to take a leading role in the fight against global warming. Now, the EU is aiming to become the first major climate neutral economy by 2050, paving the way for others to take action.
The new long-term strategy strives to balance the EU’s effect on climate change by cutting down emissions and investing in cleaner technology and jobs. The EU emphasizes that the goal is to establish vision and direction through several possible scenarios, not to set targets. The strategy will apply to most of the EU policies, and those impacted the most by the transition will receive support to adjust to these changes thus assuring the socially fair transition process where no one is left behind.
Climate neutrality might come as a new term for many people but, in all its simplicity, it means achieving zero carbon emissions. In the future, all the emissions from highly polluting sectors could be counteracted by the planting of new forests and through technology designed to fight carbon dioxide emissions.
In 2015, the Paris Climate Agreement set the world a goal of keeping temperature rise below 2°C but, in the light of recent studies, the temperatures are rising faster than anyone expected. This means more action is required to achieve these objectives and ensure that the daunting impacts of climate change are limited to the minimum.
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The EU has already agreed to cut down its emissions in order to prevent the temperature increases exceeding the Paris Agreement limit. But by going climate neutral by 2050, the European Commission hopes to have a chance of keeping the rise below 1.5°C degrees, a new target set by scientists to avoid the worst impacts of global warming. Without such effort, the world will hit the 1.5°C mark by as early as in 2030 and continue towards 3°C of warming.
Scientists worry that if these degrees are exceeded the repercussions, such as sea level and temperature rise which could lead to an extinction of many underwater species, might be irreversible. And it is not only marine life that would suffer, many low-laying coastal areas are already facing the risk of severe flooding that is capable of damaging living environments of countless people.
It would seem like the world is taking some major steps to preserve the biodiversity of earth for the future generations. But is that really the case? Despite the undisputed scientific evidence of climate change and its impacts, many countries, such as the U.S and Brazil, are taking a step back in a fight against climate change. The U.S, once seen as the leader in the combat against global warming, has slowly started to discredit the results of environmental research dismissing the warming climate as something that could ‘change back again’.
The situation is serious which is why the European Union is now ready the make the necessary, if somewhat challenging, changes to ensure a liveable future for the next generations. Climate neutrality being the next phase.
There are still many variables, and a debate among the member states about how the climate neutrality is going to be achieved is required before any policies are made. Right now, the plan is a mixture of emission cuts and funding for research and sustainable technology that will empower the EU countries to live greener lives. The European Union believes that, in addition to helping to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement, this new strategy will aid to boost economies, reduce energy imports and improve the lives of millions of European Union citizens.
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For many people climate change may seem as something daunting, yet distant, although in reality, it is happening as we speak, and has been happening for a long time now. The EU might be planning on taking radical actions to combat global warming, but it alone is not enough to reduce temperature rises. Every country needs to take part in the fight if the Paris Agreement objectives were to be met. The European Union now sets an example for the world what can, and needs to, be done to save the planet.