Our planet is heating up rapidly.
Far from impacting only the future of the youngest generations, climate change is already a reality. Global warming has so far led to extreme weather, military conflicts, migrations, loss of biodiversity and livestock, and the spread of infectious diseases. (1)(2)
These effects are the consequences of a single-degree increase in temperature
The good news is that science says that we can still slow warming significantly and stay under the 1.5-degree limit advised by the United Nations – if we act now. (4)
Global warming is the increase in the average temperature on the planet. It happens when greenhouse gases are released, trapping more heat in the atmosphere and leading to an increase in temperature. (5)
To control warming, it therefore makes sense to put a limit on how much greenhouse gas we can release until reaching a new temperature. This is called a carbon budget.
Current forecasts say that we will have used our 1.5C carbon budget by the year 2030.(4)
Therefore, to stay under the 1.5C limit, we will need bold action.
There is good news here again: such action could deliver a staggering $26 trillion in economic benefits through 2030. (6)
To reduce greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, we need to act on two lines. We must capture the already released gases by planting trees, preserving our ecosystems, and using technology. At the same time, we need to limit our emissions.
The primary sources of human-made emissions are industry, transportation, energy, agriculture, and land use.(7) Reducing them requires switching to renewable energy, clean & smart mobility, new food habits, and more sustainable industries.
These are all strategies Ursula von der Leyen’s EU commission is looking to pursue.
Through the EU Green Deal and plan – a series of policies, laws, and financial instruments – the Commission is aiming to decouple its economy from resources while staying competitive and “leave no one behind.” The objective is to reduce the EU’s emissions by 50-55% by 2030, create a competitive circular economy, and make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. (8)
That the EU wants to lead climate action sends a strong message to the world. It could be a turning point in our common History.
However, as with any plan, delivery will be critical and, now more than ever, action will be vital. Indeed, what is at stake is more than the success of “Europe’s man on the moon moment.” What’s at stake is the future of life on our planet— it is the future of humanity.
I originally wrote this post for the EU Commission as part of the efforts to promote the transition to a greener economy in Europe
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