European nations declare new climate ambitions

Scorched earth: this summer was a wake-up call for Swiss farmers, at least. © KEYSTONE / GAETAN BALLY

Sixteen European nations, including Switzerland, have signed a declaratory statement calling for all countries to review and raise the ambition of their pledges made under the Paris Climate Agreement.

This content was published on November 24, 2018 - 17:58

The “initiative for more climate ambitionExternal link”, spearheaded by Austrian president Alexander Van der Bellen, was published on Friday and comes just over a week before the Katowice Climate Change Conference in Poland, or COP24External link.

The current plans of the international community, as laid out in 2015’s landmark Paris Agreement, are “not sufficient to reach long-term goals”, the 16 European leaders write. “More has to be done – and action needs to be quick, decisive and joint.”

The call comes soon after a stark evaluation by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which found that limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (as opposed to the 2 degrees agreed in Paris) would have profound effects over the next century.

+ The IPCC’s report says the next decade is ‘decisive’

In this light, the initiative calls on countries gathering in Poland from December 3 next to take into consideration the latest IPCC findings, and to “bring the Paris Agreement to life” through agreeing “detailed operational rules and guidelines on all elements”.

In a press release on Friday, the Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe organisation said that the statement should also now be translated by the European Union into “an action plan on how and when its Member States will agree on a new 2030 target”.

“To stay below 1.5°C, the EU will need to significantly increase its 2030 target, even beyond the 55% reduction some Member States and the European Union are calling for, and ensure it achieves net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040”, CAN wrote.

The EU plans to issue its own draft long-term climate strategy in the coming days, in the lead up to COP24.

Countries that signed Friday’s declaration include Austria, Cyprus, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden, and Switzerland.

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