Europe’s youth want climate action. Elected leaders should give it to them

(EurActiv, 19 Jun 2019) European voters have delivered a green mandate. It’s up to our governments to use it, writes Caio Koch-Weser.

Caio Koch-Weser is former Secretary of State in the German Federal Ministry of Finance and Member of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate.

A green wave swept the recent European Union elections, with parties that demand climate action taking their largest ever share of the vote. The Green Party finished second in Germany, and strikingly, nearly a third of German voters aged 18-29 chose the Greens. Other young people, not yet voting age, are making their voices heard through school strikes across the continent, led by the inspiring Greta Thunberg. Europe’s people have made clear the gravity of climate change: now political leaders must respond.

They’ll soon have their chance. This week in Brussels, the European Council will set priorities on a range of issues—including the EU’s contribution to the Paris climate accord, and a potential deadline for carbon neutrality. Later this month, EU representatives will join other world leaders in Osaka for the G20 summit. Ambitious climate action must top both agendas.

Our planet’s health and prosperity are approaching a moment of truth. Between 1980 and 2017, extreme weather related to climate change claimed more than 115,000 lives across Europe, and cost the continent over €453 billion. This summer may shape up to be another one of record heatwaves for much of Europe. Research shows that to avoid runaway impacts from climate change, we must keep global warming to 1.5 degrees C. Globally, the best path hinges on peaking greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible and then dramatically cutting emissions to net-zero by 2050.

External link

EurActiv, 19 Jun 2019: Europe’s youth want climate action. Elected leaders should give it to them