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To: President of the European Commission Mr. Jose Manuel Barroso, and European Heads of State
Tell the EU to set an equitable and science-based carbon emissions reduction target of 80% by 2030.
The EU must set three legally binding targets for 2030 to cut carbon emissions, reduce energy use and develop renewable energies in line with science:
1. Carbon emissions must be reduced by at least 80% by 2030, without carbon offsetting
2. Reduce energy use by 50%
3. Increase the share of renewables to 45%
Why is this important?
There is now little to no chance of maintaining the global mean surface temperature at or below 2◦C. The only way to avoid dangerous man-made interference with the climate system is to stop burning fossil fuels and reduce our carbon emissions by 80% by 2030. Climate scientists say we have years, not decades, to reduce our carbon emissions before it’s too late to prevent ‘extremely dangerous’ climate change.
Currently we are heading for a global temperature increase of 4°C by the end of this century. This is because we are still pumping greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas), into the atmosphere. New efforts are underway to expand fossil fuel extraction by drilling into the Arctic region, extracting oil from tar sands, and using hydraulic fracking techniques to extract natural gas and oil from shale formations.
The increased concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is causing the Earth to store heat instead of releasing the heat energy to space, and as a consequence altering the global climate. The safe level of atmospheric carbon dioxide is no more than 350 parts per million (ppm) if we are to preserve a planet similar to which life on Earth is adapted. In 2013, the global concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere passed the level of 400 ppm. The impacts associated with a rise in global mean surface temperature of 2◦C (450 ppm) represents the threshold between ‘dangerous’ and ‘extremely dangerous’ climate change. This means we can except to see rising sea levels, shrinking sea ice in Greenland and Antarctic, and more severe and frequent climate impacts like heavier rainfall, extreme flooding, heatwaves, storms and droughts.
The EU is responsible for 11% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The EU must take leadership and responsibility for the present dangerous situation. In January 2014, the European Commission announced their 2030 climate and energy plans. The European Commission’s proposal calls for greenhouse gas emissions to be cut by 40% by 2030. The Commission did not set binding targets for increasing renewable energies or for reducing energy use. The Commission’s climate proposal is irresponsible, and inconsistent with scientific evidence-based climate data analyses. Based on climate science, carbon emissions must be reduced by at least 80% by 2030, and there must be binding targets to reduce energy use by 50% and increase the share of renewables to 45%. European energy and environment ministers will begin discussions on 20-21 March, and the EU is expected to agree the 2030 climate and energy targets by the end of this year. The EU’s 2030 climate and energy plans will set the tone for negotiations (Paris COP summit) on global efforts to rein in carbon emissions next year, and hence the direction of future climate impacts.
Tell the EU to set an equitable and science-based carbon emissions reduction target of 80% by 2030. Anything less will leave future generations a legacy of “devastating impacts”.
Letter to President Barroso on 2030 Decarbonisation targets from Dr Kevin Anderson, Professor of Energy and Climate Change, Deputy Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change, University of Manchester: http://kevinanderson.info/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Letter-pdf-to-President-Barroso-on-2030-decarbonisation-Dec-2013.pdf
Anderson K, Bow A (2010) Beyond ‘dangerous’ climate change: emission scenarios for a new world. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 2011 369, doi: 10.1098/rsta.2010.0290
Hansen J, Kharecha P, Sato M, Masson-Delmotte V, Ackerman F, et al. (2013) Assessing ‘‘Dangerous Climate Change’’: Required Reduction of Carbon Emissions to Protect Young People, Future Generations and Nature. PLoS ONE 8(12): e81648. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0081648
Betts R, Collins M, Hemming D.L., Jones C.D., Lowe J. A, and Sanderson M.G. When could global warming reach 4°C? Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A (2011) 369, 67–84 doi:10.1098/rsta.2010.0292
IPCC, 2013: Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Stocker, T.F., D. Qin, G.-K. Plattner, M. Tignor, S. K. Allen, J. Boschung, A. Nauels, Y. Xia, V. Bex and P.M. Midgley (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.
According to 2012 research by Fraunhofer ISI for the German Environment Ministry, the EU could reduce its energy consumption by 50% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. Concrete Paths of the European Union to the 2°C Scenario: Achieving the Climate Protection Targets of the EU by 2050 through Structural Change, Energy Savings and Energy Efficiency Technologies.