Unió Europea i el Món

A scant European climate law

MEP Diana Riba
MEP Diana Riba

Last week, the European Parliament passed a so-called European Climate Law. At first glance, the news should satisfy us all, were it not for the fact that the content shows considerable shortcomings. It is in fact clearly insufficient if the intention is to reverse the global warming that threatens our very existence.

That is precisely why Esquerra Republicana and The Greens/EFA, the parliamentary group we are members of, voted against it. And the reason for that vote is clear: we are convinced that it is much better to challenge the interests of big business and of the states, than to question the scientific evidence.

The main reason for our negative vote is that the climate goal the law sets is limited to reducing only 52.8% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, a figure that will in no way allow us to reach the Paris Agreement target which aims to limit global warming to 1.5°C. In fact, it is worth noting that there are scientific experts, like the former chair of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Sir Robert Watson, who say that even the Paris Agreements will hardly be enough to mitigate the effects of global warming. So just imagine what it means to pass a law that does not even meet the minimums set at the Paris conference.

As expected, disapproval has not been long in coming. It is not just environmental groups who have made harsh criticisms of the law, but the scientific community has also joined in the disapproval, arguing that with the law as it stands, the temperature of the planet may increase between 2°C and 3°C. And these are not just figures, they represent lives.

Since the very beginning of negotiations on the law, our parliamentary group has advocated a reduction of 65% in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and the position of the European Parliament ended up being set at 60% – a good result considering the conservative majority in the European Parliament. After negotiations with the Commission and the Council however, this percentage fell to 52.8%. It is obvious that the interests of the states and the fossil fuel lobby have once again trumped the common good.

And if all that was not serious enough, the law passed last week is not binding, so the member states are not obliged to reach climate neutrality by 2050. The reluctance of countries like Poland, where 80% of electricity is coal-sourced, has been decisive in watering down the final text.

Experts have long been warning us of the catastrophic effects of not altering this trend: heat waves, droughts, floods, forest fires, water scarcity, mass extinctions of entire species, climate refugees, wars caused by scarcity of resources, new pandemics … Life on the planet will be very difficult or even impossible if we do not act urgently. That is why the Commission and the States need to listen to science once and for all.

For our part, we will continue to apply pressure in all the arenas. Fit For 2030 for example, is a set of climate policies that the Commission will propose this July, and during the negotiations that will take place we will work to introduce ambitious and key green policies on a global scale. Furthermore, in November Glasgow will host the most important climate summit of the decade: COP26. We will be there, as always, fighting for a cleaner and fairer world for future generations.