Saturday

4th Feb 2023

Swedish activist urges EU to double climate goals

  • Greta Thunberg inspired similar school strikes across Europe and further afield (Photo: C.Suthorn)

Swedish activist Greta Thunberg has urged the EU to double its climate targets, amid a European Commission pledge to spend billions on the problem in the future.

The EU aims to cut CO2 emissions by 40 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

But "this target is not sufficient to protect the future for children growing up today," the 16-year old Thunberg said at the European Economic and Social Committee, an EU advisory body, in Brussels on Thursday (21 February), according to the Reuters news agency.

"If the EU is to make its fair contribution to stay within the carbon budget for the 2C limit then it needs a minimum of 80 percent reduction by 2030, and that includes aviation and shipping," Thunberg, who travelled from Sweden to Belgium by train to underline her point, said.

"Unite behind the science ... Talk to the scientists, listen to them," she said.

The EU commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, who attended the event, said a large chunk of the future EU budget would be devoted to fighting climate change.

"In the next financial period from 2021 to 2027, every fourth euro spent within the EU budget [worth some €1 trillion] will go towards action to mitigate climate change," he said.

He also criticised US leader Donald Trump for pulling America, one of the world's largest carbon polluters, out of a global climate pact called the Paris accord.

"Mr. Trump and his friends believe that climate change is something that has just been invented and its an ideological concept, but ... something dangerous is already underway," he said.

Juncker kissed Thunberg's hand in front of photographers at the meeting.

She was later welcomed as a celebrity by about 7,500 students and schoolchildren on a protest march in Brussels.

Similar marches the same day in the Belgian towns of Ghent, Genk, and Nivelles attracted a further 7,500 young people, Belgian media reported.

Thunberg held her first "strike" from school lessons in protest at climate politics in August last year, inspiring similar actions in Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, and Australia.

She also spoke at a UN meeting on the issues last December.

"If you still say that we are wasting valuable lesson time, then let me remind you that our political leaders have wasted decades through denial and inaction," she said in Brussels on Thursday.

Thunberg, who is a vegan, spoke one day before the UN warned in a report that land-conversion for meat farming and monoculture crops, as well as pesticide use, had contributed to a "debilitating" loss in biodiversity which threatened the world's food supply.

Some 63 percent of plants, 11 percent of birds, and 5 percent of fish and fungi were in decline in 91 countries, it said.

"This places the future of our food and the environment under severe threat ... The foundations of our food systems are being undermined," the UN said.

EU commission appeals Dieselgate ruling

The Court of Justice of the EU annulled legislation which relaxed toxic emission limits for cars. EU commissioner Bienkowska said the commission will appeal.

EUobserved

Schoolkid 'climate strikers' outnumber MEPs at debate

In response to the now worldwide movement of concerned school children, the EU parliament held a debate about climate change. But those pupils attending were not allowed to speak, only to listen.

Agenda

It's the big Brexit vote This WEEK

UK lawmakers will have to take the key decisions next week on Brexit - as the two-year saga finally reaches the boil. Meanwhile, the European Parliament is busy wrapping up legislation before the May elections.

EPP dismiss higher climate target as 'propaganda'

Most members of the European People's Party opposed an amendment which called on the EU to raise its emissions reductions target for 2030. A spokesman called it "unrealistic".

Opinion

More money, more problems in EU answer to US green subsidies

Industrial energy-intense sectors, outside Germany and France, will not move to the US. They will go bust, as they cannot compete in a fragmented single market. So to save industry in two member states, we will kill the rest?

Latest News

  1. Greece faces possible court over 'prison-like' EU-funded migration centres
  2. How the centre-right can take on hard-right and win big in 2024
  3. Top EU officials show Ukraine solidarity on risky trip
  4. MEPs launch anonymous drop-box for shady lobbying secrets
  5. Hawkish ECB rate-rise 'puts energy transition at risk'
  6. MEPs push for greater powers for workers' councils
  7. How Pavel won big as new Czech president — and why it matters
  8. French official to take on Islamophobia in EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Party of the European LeftJOB ALERT - Seeking a Communications Manager (FT) for our Brussels office!
  2. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  3. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains
  4. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  5. EFBWWCouncil issues disappointing position ignoring the threats posed by asbestos
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  4. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  5. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  6. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us