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!

Image Credits: DAINA LE LARDIC © European Union 2020 – Source : EP
Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Commission. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

6 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    EU-Reform Proactive

    Sorry, first an important observation: the EU/DE approach is once more presumptuous & therefore suspect!

    Whenever I read that the EU project managers have decided to announce that the smashing of another record is imminent, followed by contemplations about which EU LEGAL tool (law) would be most effective to achieve such an aim- already gives me political Goosebumps.

    Going even further- by virtually assuming all our national boundaries’ as abolished and replaced with “EU REGIONS”- and/or assuming a de facto USE- without being authorised (‘free’- yes) to even think so!

    Sorry again, not even the smartest wording can obscure the reality that our national independence is still alive & well and demand to be respected! Despite many national politicians (never mind the ‘EU seconded’ ones) seem to have suffered memory losses or lapses!

    Having that off my chest- my question & challenge:

    * What can- I, or you, or all these EU virtual project managers, every single politician- contribute & do- in their PERSONAL capacity?

    * The sum of all singular achievements so far, would determine a collective achievement and establish today’s realistic benchmark in any of the 27 EU (sovereign) nations. Next collectively in all 27- called the EU project.

    I am prepared to publish my personal ‘contribution’ and results in energy savings (“climate protection”) achieved through various measures, I am using or invested in- on condition:

    All “climate change” prophets take the lead by example- in the following order:

    1st: all these EU project managers publish theirs-
    2nd: all other appointed EU politicians & parliamentarians follow suit-
    3rd: all national politicians next-
    4th: all extreme, green-coloured activists next-

    All genuinely concerned citizens who are serious and could & are doing something (including me)- next-

    Governments & Companies feature on a separate list- ‘done enough good’ to reverse climate change.

    However- great scientists & all others who are genuinely sorry but unable to contribute meaningfully are exempted & excused!

    Challenge deadline:
    done & dusted before No 1st—4th is rushing off by plane, train, or car to the next Climate summit to hold more speeches & outdo themselves with ever-so-great promises to spend other people’s money.

    Armageddon: Those who fail this challenge and try to hide must voluntarily keep quiet, repent, resign their positions or be fired!

    Much CO2 will be saved!

  2. avatar

    EU failed the European people, the European culture, and the European values.
    Instead of supporting gas and nuclear EU destroyed the European industries.

  3. avatar

    From now on, let’s hope so!

  4. avatar
    JT HK

    Oh yes, EU is the pioneer in climate protection but turning to charcoal and buying 4 times the price of the US freedom and democratic LNG or not washing yourself. EU ought to tell OPEC to reduce oil production so that to have the price rocketed to 10 times, people cannot afford to use petroleum and are forced to use bicycle and public transportation.

  5. avatar

    From all the climate calamities, forest/nature fires can be the worst!
    Around 2010-2011 I’ve got these mental messages: “The world will get on fire”. “The menkind will not make it, if we do not make huge efforts to save ourselves”.
    I just hope the situations will not be so dramatical as I’ve got them! I’ve got apocaliptic scenarious!
    Unfortunately the planets climate gets worse and worse…

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