Global warming - an urgent threat

Environmental refugees leaving Bangkok on a flooded highway. Flooding in autumn 2011 killed hundreds, displaced millions and hit the economy, with over 1,000 factories swamped.

 

The last decade has seen nine of the ten hottest years on world record. A record $380 billion in losses were attributed to "natural disasters" in 2011, according to insurance giant Munich Re. Europe is experiencing fatal and costly heat waves, forest fires and floods. No surprise then that an official poll in late 2011 showed Europeans view it as more important a threat than the financial crisis. Yet carbon emissions in 2010 were at a record level.

Catastrophic climate change can only be avoided if industrialised nations transform rapidly towards a green and resource-efficient economy, with poorer countries following a green growth pathway with financial and technology support set internationally.

Europe remains one of the world’s most carbon polluting regions, second only to China and the United States. Power, heat and transport produce more than 80 percent of its greenhouse gas emissions.

Europe showed climate leadership by signing and ratifying the Kyoto Protocol and setting mandatory targets for renewable energy production. But current efforts will fail to save us from dangerous climate change or maintain EU leadership in green technology development. Other economies are rapidly catching up in a global race for green technology market share and Europe continues to rely on ever more and expensive oil imports.

Three policy areas will determine climate and energy success in the EU:

Cutting carbon
The current EU climate target of 20 percent emission reductions by 2020 compared to 1990 levels is well short of what scientists say is needed to avert dangerous climate change and is unlikely to drive a transition towards a green and resource-efficient economy. The EU should reduce domestic emissions by at least 30 percent, a move supported by a growing number of business leaders, European ministers and civil society groups. More information.

Energy
Power and heat are Europe’s most carbon-heavy sectors, with coal-fired plants the worst offender. Nuclear power remains a safety risk and is increasingly blocking the rapid growth of renewable energy. Within the next decade, nearly half of the EU’s power stations will need to be replaced. Europe should seize the opportunity to invest in renewable power, energy saving technology and upgrade its outdated electricity grid. Europe can and should fully run on renewable energy by 2050. More information.

Oil, transport and biofuels
Transport is Europe’s fastest growing source of carbon emissions. As conventional sources dry up, industry is reaching to ever-riskier and more polluting sources, such as deep seas deposits, tar sands and bio-energy causing rainforest destruction and food price spikes. The EU can and should go beyond oil with a fleet of better, efficient and cheaper-to-run cars, vans and trucks. More information.

The latest updates

 

New EU state aid rules a blow for UK nuclear energy plan – Greenpeace

Press release | April 9, 2014 at 12:39

Brussels – New rules on state aid adopted today by the European Commission will make it harder for the UK and other governments to subsidise nuclear energy projects like the new reactors at Hinkley Point, said Greenpeace.

EU summit: to Russia with love… and cash

Press release | March 21, 2014 at 13:39

Brussels – EU leaders meeting at a summit in Brussels have postponed decisions on a new climate and energy deal that could help wean Europe off expensive energy imports, said Greenpeace. The heads of state and government recognised the need for...

Greenpeace applauds European Parliament call to protect the Arctic

Press release | March 12, 2014 at 13:13

Brussels - Today’s European Parliament resolution calling on the European Commission, the EU’s External Action Services and EU governments to protect the fragile Arctic environment is an encouraging initiative, according to Greenpeace. The...

EU energy ministers should get back in the saddle on climate and energy policy,...

Press release | March 4, 2014 at 9:00

Brussels – Energy ministers meeting in Brussels today will discuss for the first time the European Commission’s EU climate and energy policy package for 2030.

Fear of change could precipitate demise of Europe’s energy giants

Press release | February 26, 2014 at 11:26

Brussels – Europe’s largest power companies are in trouble because of their reluctance to question dated business models in the face of far-reaching structural changes to Europe’s energy market, according to a new report released today [1].

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