Climate action: Seeds of hope for 2019

(EurActiv, 15 Jan 2019) While there is a growing recognition of the need for climate action, last year taught us that for a sustainable long-term energy transition to be effective, the roadmap to get there needs to be inclusive and citizen-driven, writes Imke Lübbeke.

Imke Lübbeke is head of climate and energy at the WWF European policy office.

2018 was a big year for climate change. The release of the groundbreaking IPCC report last October sent jolts throughout policy circles and civil society, confronting us with the latest scientific information on the widespread impacts to the planet if we failed to drastically cut CO2 emissions. And the European Commission committed to reach net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050, a major step forward and a first on the global level.

Public concern of the climate situation grew throughout 2018, as Europe’s summer temperatures broke records, and wildfires ravaged California. The fall and winter months followed with climate marches taking place across Europe, gathering tens of thousands of citizens demanding loud and clear much stronger, quicker, climate ambition. This growing public momentum was palpable at last month’s COP. Embodying this impetus, 15-year old Swedish youth activist Greta Thunberg memorably called out the passivity of global leaders, warning them that: “Change is coming”, whether they are part of it or not.

Another 2018 trend that gives some reason for optimism has been the greater involvement of the private sector, with several companies and private sector coalitions taking active steps to reduce their carbon footprint. Danish shipping industry giant Maersk for example committed last month to having carbon neutral vessels by 2030. Over 500 companies, including Ikea and Unilever, have committed to align their greenhouse gas emissions with the Paris Agreement targets. These commitments have been helped by the decreasing costs of solar and wind, and other renewables technologies.

And from a policy perspective the year culminated in the release of the European Commission’s long-term climate plan in November, which laid out several scenarios to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

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EurActiv, 15 Jan 2019: Climate action: Seeds of hope for 2019