The EU likes to see itself as a pioneer in climate protection. But is this view justified? With its European Green Deal, the Commission has announced the goal of becoming the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. As the first intermediate stage on the road to climate neutrality, the Commission is aiming for a 55% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Are these goals ambitious enough?
After all, climate change is the biggest threat we face as a species and experts are urging immediate and drastic action. Is the EU on track to meet these targets? What measures are needed to actually reduce Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030? These questions are particularly urgent as we head towards COP-27 in November.
What do our readers think? You sent us YOUR questions and comments on conscription and we forwarded them to two politicians from two different parties and an expert!
- Anja Karliczek is a CDU politician and was Federal Minister of Education and Research from 2018 to 2021. In the current legislative period, she is a member of the Bundestag and a member of the Environment Committee.
- Micha Sörgel is the spokesperson of the Energy and Climate Working Group at BUND Naturschutz, an environmental protection association in Bavaria.
- Chantal Kopf is a member of the Bundestag for the Greens/B90 party and a member of the Committee on European Union Affairs and a substitute member of the Committee on Economic Affairs.
First, our reader Peter wonders what specifically the EU should do about climate change. He writes to us:
In my opinion, it is not possible for humanity to join together in comprehensive measures that would avert / weaken a climate catastrophe. These measures are associated with costs and as long as climate protection is not cheaper than climate pollution, humanity will not change.
How does the expert Micha Sörgel see it? Does he agree with Peter?
It is an interesting question. In any case, I believe that mankind will not really agree to comprehensive measures on any subject – be it climate change or any other anything else… Yet, there’s no getting around the fact that we need to take measures, nor that these measures will, of course, also be associated with costs.
However, not taking these measures is also associated with costs [and] the problem is also that the costs incurred by global warming so far have been passed on to society, while the profits were privatised. So, the real cost of goods and services have not been included in the price paid by consumers, and if this were done, then climate-damaging products would become much more expensive than they are now.
Yet even in the system we have, with the prices and as we currently have them, climate-friendly alternatives are already cheaper in many places than climate-damaging technologies…
Next we received this comment from reader James:
If quite a lot of people do something useless (e.g. buy products that are falsely labelled as ‘sustainable’), then it doesn’t make much difference. […] However, if the legal restrictions are tightened (which cannot be done by the consumer), then it can have a real impact.
Which legal requirements can actually make a difference in the fight against climate change? What would German MP Chantal Kopf say?
So, I fully support this point of view and it is also exactly our political approach, as Greens, not to say that the individual is responsible for climate protection but rather that the political framework conditions should be decisive. And there are a lot of people (and also a lot of companies and other organisations) that are actually much further ahead, in terms of climate protection, and who want to move much more, but there are obstacles in their way. And that’s why, on the one hand, we need to remove these obstacles, such as bureaucratic hurdles…
But, on the other hand, we also need clear political framework conditions and, on the European level, I’m thinking especially in terms of pricing instruments. So, for example, the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and the reforms we are striving for, such as the inclusion of other energy sectors in the ETS, and then also directed outwards in the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), so that industrial companies in Europe can produce in a climate-friendly way and are charged the CO2 price, which has an important steering effect, without being at a disadvantage compared to other competitors in the international context.
Lastly, we received this comment from Natalia, who calls for just change:
We need to push renewables, but we need a fair and just energy transition for the regions that are still economically dependent on the coal industry. We need a fair strategy, not only to recover from the Corona crisis, but also to tackle climate change.
How can regions that are still dependent on fossil energy be supported in the energy transition without harming the people in the region? We have also forwarded Natalia’s comment to the former Federal Minister of Education, Anja Karliczek. What would she say?
This is a really important question, and it gets right to the heart of the matter, because everything that seems feasible or desirable for us in Germany or Europe is currently not feasible for many countries whose economies depend on the export of fossil energy sources.
Just look at the example of Colombia, whose coal reserves are currently filling the gap left by Russian coal supplies. This is why multilateral support and fair trade agreements are indispensable, including support for countries that are currently heavily dependent on coal. Climate agreements make an essential contribution here.
Is the EU doing enough to tackle climate change? Which legal requirements can actually make a difference in the fight against climate change? How can regions that are still dependent on fossil energy be supported in the energy transition without harming the people in the region? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!