Listen to the kids: green groups tell EU governments how to avert climate catastrophe

EU governments have been told to raise their climate goals this year ahead of a meeting of environment ministers in Brussels next week.

Europe’s biggest network of environmental groups has made the case for more ambition to prevent climate breakdown.

In a public letter to all EU environment ministers the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) highlights the co-benefits of increased climate action, like planting trees, insulating homes and cutting energy waste.

The letter argues that achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions will deliver cleaner air and water, improved job security and access to energy and better health for people all over Europe.

Jeremy Wates, Secretary General of the EEB said:

“As school children across Europe demand governments act on climate, it’s important that the EU takes the necessary steps to limit global warming to 1.5°C. European countries should demonstrate global leadership by increasing their climate ambition this year.”

The EU has set the goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. MEPs this week argued that this requires accelerated emissions cuts over the next decade.

A consensus is emerging that achieving climate goals will require serious investments in developing natural carbon sinks and reservoirs, including by protecting forests and planting new trees.

Experts have also found that energy can be used far more effectively with recent research showing the EU energy use could be cut by as much as two thirds by 2050.

So-called ‘school strikes’ have spread across Europe and around the world since Swedish student Greta Thunberg made global headlines for her speech to world leaders in Davos.

School and university students have since taken to the streets instead of taking part in their classes all over the world. Belgium has seen some of the largest protests.

Green groups argue that the EU must raise its own targets to demonstrate commitment to delivering on the Paris Agreement.

European environment ministers will meet on 5 March in Brussels to discuss a number of issues.

Alongside climate, how to improve European water quality, how to make EU investments more sustainable, and how to protect citizens from toxic endocrine disrupting chemicals will be on the agenda.