On 3 April 2014, Debating Europe co-hosted Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary-General, as part of our Debating Europe Schools initiative. The debate focused on mobilising action on climate change, and Ban Ki-moon answered questions from a selection of students from across the EU.

Torrential rains battered Western Europe earlier this year, causing floods, damaging property and eroding coastlines. At the same time, North America was being frozen by unprecedented cold temperatures, whilst a record-breaking heat wave was sizzling Australia. According to a recent report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), we should all get used to these extreme weather patterns because they’re here to stay.

UN negotiations are currently under way to develop a new international climate change agreement for the Paris climate conference in 2015, to be implemented from 2020. Activists are hoping for a comprehensive, ambitious and legally-binding agreement – but high expectations have been dashed before, most notably at at the Copenhagen conference in 2009, which was widely seen as delivering less than promised. This time, however, the EU hopes to reclaim its reputation as a global leader on climate change.

In preparation for the event with Ban Ki-moon, we put together some facts and figures about climate change and its impact in the infographic below (and you can click on the image for a larger version). Can Europe help lead the world in the fight against climate change? Or is it already too late to avoid dangerous global warming? Will extreme weather events be more common in future? And can economies be adapted to resist climate change, or is prevention the only option? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.

46 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Olivier Laurent

    o_0 the illustration isn’t a bit too much? Last time I checked they were talking about centimeters…Looks like your are almost at 1KM of sea level rise here.

  2. avatar
    Jaume Roqueta

    I think EU is helping to promote climate change… not avoiding it… Any debate on Transatlantic Trade and Investment Parternship wich is a direct atac to democracy? any debate on future economy plans to prevent exponential growht? a no… of course we only debate on stupid things… serious debates are not for common people… only “bussinesman and experts”

    • avatar
      Limbidis Arian

      “Experts” = lobbyists for corporate interests.

    • avatar
      Denis Ketels

      In a real democracy serious debates are for every citizen who feel concerned !

  3. avatar
    Malcolm Seychell

    lollllllllllllllllllll still believe this shit? How much do you think european are stupid. Climate change is just for more taxes.

    • avatar
      Limbidis Arian

      I’d like to really know what is your basis for that belief.

  4. avatar
    Jaime Martins

    YOU don’t want to avoid catastrophic climate change, the owners of the Money and Oil do not let you do that.

  5. avatar
    catherine benning

    I don’t believe there is anything man can do to change what is already started within the core of our planet. And it is very unlikely we are anything near to the cause of it.

    The magnetic shield has weakened, exposing the earth to cosmic radiation. The outer skin of the planet has been pierced and there is nothing we can do to change what is already taking place and well into it’s process. It’s time frame is akin to a grain of rice on a chess board. You put one grain on the first square and double it in every one of them to the top. That is how fast our climate will change and the planet will move to bring it into its next phase.


    It is incredibly arrogant to believe we can do a thing to postpone this amazing event.

  6. avatar
    Paul X

    “we’ve put together some facts and figures about climate change and its impact in the infographic below”

    No you haven’t, you’ve put some facts and figures about CO2 emissions…..whether they are directly responsible for climate change is still open to debate

  7. avatar
    Jaroslav Kuna

    You mean constant natural climate change? Man, one must love this green propaganda paid for by our taxes.

    • avatar
      Limbidis Arian

      This “green propaganda” might save your stupid ass.

  8. avatar

    The whole thing with climate change is a big scam. And not a cheap one either. People build careers over this issue.
    It’s like :
    …- And what you do for a living ?
    – I fight “global warming and climate change” …

  9. avatar
    Xavier Schoumaker

    We’re all responsible, someone has to make the first decisive steps. The longer we wait the more irresponsible we are.

  10. avatar
    Olivier Laurent

    So basically you really think that the eroded coastlines are caused by global warming? And there was no flooding, or not such big flooding in Europe before the so called “global warming”?

  11. avatar
    Mustafa Cezar

    ‘europe only cares in giving more money to multinational corporations’… to invest in China or other countries with weaker environment regulations.

  12. avatar
    Pieter Bracke

    It is too easy to deny that we have a climare change, by closing the eyes. It is too easy to shout out that it makes no sense to take care of our environment because it is too late. In reality the change has to start in each of us, in our brains. WE citizans have to be willing to change consumption attitudes in our life. Otherwise the politicians can’t reach any of the objectives. We need actions by ourselves.

    • avatar

      I couldn’t agree more.

  13. avatar
    Mohammad Riaz

    Industrial and domestic waste diverted to rivers and oceans is also one of the cause. Pollution has incredibly made its contribution in climate change

  14. avatar
    Yannick Cornet

    The real question is: how exactly to enhance the spatial and temporal horizons in political thinking?? The S in the UN Sustainable Development Goals is slowly being dropped, leaving us only with the usual ‘development’ goals. In the EU the smart, sustainable and inclusive part of the 2020 goals are also slowly being dropped, leaving us only with the ‘growth’ part. All that remains is the narrow, short-term, national perspective and primacy of economic thinking. How to make politicians – and thus, normal people too – understand that sustainability is not a luxury to be had once the economy is fixed, it is part of the solution to fixing the economy?

    05/01/2016 Tamira Gunzburg, Brussels Director of ONE, has responded to this comment.

  15. avatar
    Yannick Cornet

    He is absolutely right. Yet the S in the UN Sustainable Development Goals is also being eroded, why? In the EU the smart, sustainable and inclusive part of the 2020 goals are slowly being dropped, leaving us only with the ‘growth’ part, why? All that remains is the narrow, short-term, national perspective and primacy of economic thinking. But how exactly to enhance the spatial and temporal horizons in political thinking?? How to make politicians – and thus, normal people too – understand that sustainability is not a luxury to be had once the economy is fixed, it is part of the solution to fixing the economy?

  16. avatar
    Christopher Le Breton

    Agreed. The UN Earth Summit in 2012 was a joke – caving into private capital interests rather than tackling the issues that are polluting the Earth and causing social injustice.

  17. avatar
    Peggi Erickson

    And in America our Supreme Court just sold our democracy to the highest bidder so our ability to take meaningful action on climate change has just suffered a big blow…

  18. avatar

    Irá as alterações climáticas reduzir o desenvolvimento das espécies marítimas ( plantas e peixes)?

  19. avatar

    The responses to climate change so far categorise the incredibly short-term outlook that our species tends towards (even though this is exactly what is supposed to differentiate us). It makes me proud that Europe has in the past driven this issue and pioneered legislation and long may it continue but we need a global effort. All I would say to anyone skeptical about the science is, even if you don’t believe that our CO2 emissions can/will change the climate and have a detrimental impact, changing our waste streams, closing resource loops and sourcing energy from renewable sources is just about being more efficient on a planet with finite resources. It just makes sense.

    • avatar
      Pieter Bracke

      I like your mesage, suitboy. You have the right wording. All those who do not believe in scientific facts may go back to the bottoms of life and become farmers and hunters, without no use of any machine. People already survived half million of years witout technical help. Let them all go back to the stone age. Let the others do more efforts to save the earth for all, so that the stone age minded have also a chance to survive because future climate catastrophes will be less heavy than they might be without our efforts.

  20. avatar

    Against a Socialist globalist organization

  21. avatar

    Inefficient bureaucracy

  22. avatar

    Keep it but it needs to be more representative. Do away with individual countries being able to veto or at least limit how much they can use their veto. Peace keepers should have more powers

  23. avatar

    The concept is good, but the reality has become bogged down by bureaucracy and self serving bureaucrats. States being able to Veto too many policies. Outside interference from large states or religious entities. Lack of respect and assistance to peacekeeping operations. If it’s going to survive it needs a total overhaul from the bottom up. Otherwise it might as well shut up shop as it has allowed itself to become irrelevant on the world scene.

  24. avatar

    As much as bureaucratic and self-serving it is, it has been playng a rather positive paper in many issues like peacekeeping, human rights, climate change, health, and so on. If you want UN to be a more useful global player, you have to start by changing your own country into a more useful player in this unique global partnership!

  25. avatar

    UK is a threat to EU’s integrity.

  26. avatar

    The fact that the USA, Russia, UK, France and China have veto powers means that they make decisions that suit their agendas that have nothing to do with peace, justice and fairness. Like NATO member Turkey invading and occupying Cyprus, threating Greece and Cyprus to steal their resources and just getting away with it Scott free.

  27. avatar

    honestly, its one of these things right now that could use a lot of improvement, but at same time its necessary and we dont have proper alternative to it, because when all is said and done, we do need active communication across globe in daily basis, more than normal country unions could achieve

  28. avatar

    It is obvious that there must be, as long as all nominees including the politicians of the member states are held responsible and all those corrupt, accomplices and associated with severe prison sentences and impeded from working with the institution and bodies of the member states are condemned.

  29. avatar

    Past the neoliberal minded bad publicity, the UN does a lot of hard work behind the scenes, from monitoring and reporting on human rights to dealing with migration and conflicts to health crisis from ebola to Corona, and with limited budgets and even more limited mandates. We should all be grateful. Sure the UN security council should be reviewed, but that is the most visible yet perhaps least representative of their true hard work. For those who work there whom I met, they are extremely committed and knowledgeable people, which I truly admire. So please let’s stop that crap about bureaucracy: I have worked for the private and the continuous change of strategies and reorganisations are soooo wasteful, I do not believe the private sets a great example of efficiency either. Efficiency vs bureaucracy is the plight of every organisation. I think the UN is quite focused, and we should all be really firerucking focused on achieving the SDGs if we really want life in this planet to improve.

  30. avatar

    UN where each country pays the salaries of each of its members present at the tables where salaries are not the main object and the help to the poorer country is.

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