on 3rd March 2014

European leaders must take concrete action to avoid devastating climate change

Ahead of a crucial 20-21 March summit on Europe’s Climate and Energy plans, humanitarian and development organisation CARE International is urging European leaders to take bold steps to tackle climate change – or risk a growing ‘life and death’ crisis for people living in poverty around the world.

In an open letter to European Heads of State and Government from Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the UK, the Chief Executives say European Heads of State and Government must make significant progress towards agreeing an ambitious 2030 climate and energy framework.

In particular, CARE says Europe can and must achieve ambitious domestic emissions reductions and calls for emissions cuts of at least 55% by 2030, instead of the 40% that has been suggested by the European Commission. Europe also needs to provide substantial support to developing countries for additional emissions reductions to ensure a fair and shared international effort to tackle the causes of climate change, the letter says.

Without bold emissions reductions targets, and strong European leadership to tackle the growing climate crisis, the risk of average global temperatures rising by more than 2°C is unacceptably high. The most recent climate science urges keeping global warming to as close to 1.5°C as possible.

A rise of 2°C or more “would risk triggering runaway climate change and lead to devastating impacts around the world that will put people’s lives at risk, especially in vulnerable countries,” the Chief Executives say.

“Climate change is now the most fundamental challenge of our time. The risks and costs of inaction, for the world’s poorest and for us all, are far too great to ignore […] Now is the moment to accelerate a crucial shift towards low-emission and climate-resilient development pathways globally.”

The letter also says an ambitious EU emission reduction target should be complemented by nationally binding, ambitious targets for renewable energy and energy efficiency to better enable the necessary long-term transformation of the European economy towards phasing out greenhouse gas emissions. The letter calls on leaders to agree more ambitious emissions reductions than planned in the coming years, and by 2020 at the latest.

The CARE Chief Executives describe how the impacts of climate change are already threatening vulnerable communities around the world. “In our work supporting the world’s poorest people […] we observe that development gains are being eroded, poverty reduction efforts are being reversed, and the fulfillment of human rights is being undermined in many countries due to climate change,” they say, adding that: “Even though they have done the least to produce the greenhouse gases that drive climate change, poor and vulnerable people are bearing the brunt of its impacts.”

They also urge European leaders to seize the ‘exceptional window of opportunity for renewed public attention and political commitment’ [to tackle the climate crisis] when world leaders come together at a UN climate summit in New York in September and at a major climate conference in Paris in 2015.

 

See: www.careclimatechange.org to read the full text of the open letter

To arrange an interview with one of the CARE European CEOs, contact Jo Barrett, Press and Communications Coordinator, Climate Change, CARE International on jbarrett@careclimatechange.org or +44 7940 703911

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