The EU Urged its Members to Commit to Net Zero Emissions by 2050

This was a big step in the right direction.

Dec 19, 2019

Taking care of our planet, has become a worldwide concern and we all have to do our part. That's why the European Union's recent declaration to commit to Net Zero Emissions by 2050 is so important.

On November 29, 2019 – just days before the UN COP25 international climate change conference in Madrid Spain officially began – the European Union declared a state of climate and environmental emergency.

The vote, according to The Guardian, was intended to show Europe's green credentials before the conference began.

Already 1,216 jurisdictions and local governments in 26 countries have declared climate emergencies; in a historic move, an entire continent – and an additional 500 million people –  will now be added to that list. the vote passed 429 to 225 in favor with 19 abstentions.

In a separate vote, MEP’s also backed the ambitious target of cutting emissions by 55 percent by 2030 as opposed to by only 40 percent. 

The declaration was  meant to set the tone for the annual climate negotiations which began on December 2 and ended on December 13. The goal of COP25 is to assess where countries are standing regarding their Paris Agreement targets, and to assist and encourage effective environmental action and policy. 

While the 200 countries that attended the two-week meeting did approve a statement calling on countries to do more to fight climate change, according to Vox they could not agree on much else. What mattered the most was to come to an agreement about buying carbon credits.

“Regretfully we couldn’t get to an agreement on this important article,” said Carolina Schmidt, president of the COP told Vox.

These meetings and declarations were especially important because earlier this year, scientists warned that previously held targets that sought to reduce global warming below 2 degrees Celsius are inadequate, and that countries will need to limit warming to a 1.5 degree rise instead.

 CNN reported in November 2019 that  11,000 scientists from 150 countries added their names in declaration of a climate emergency in order to encourage more urgent action .

The implications of these declarations are magnanimous since until recently, climate change was hardly discussed as a major issue among politicians or by the mainstream media.

In the United States, for example, citizens are waking up. In a CBS News Poll released earlier this year, over 40 percent of Americans surveyed considered climate change a “crisis” or a “serious problem” whereas approximately 36 percent of respondents reporting that it’s a minor problem or not a problem. 

While awareness is growing in the United States, there is still no official federal policy but states and cities are picking up the slack. This is why movements like Fridays for Future (F4F) have asked first and foremost that governments publicize the science surrounding climate change

It is astonishing how quickly countries have heeded the calls of its citizens and acted by, declaring climate emergencies and taking real action to help solve this global crisis. Hopefully other countries will be inspired by the EU and join them in setting ambitious goals and swift implementation.   

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HILLA BENZAKEN, CONTRIBUTOR
Hilla Benzaken is a dedicated optimist. Her happy place involves cooking, acting, gardening, and fighting for social justice. She writes about all things sustainability, innovation, and DIY.