The European Union today became the first major power to show its cards and announce the level of climate action it proposes to pledge at UN climate talks in Paris this December. [1] But the emissions cuts agreed by environment ministers fall far short of Europe’s fair share of the action needed to avoid dangerous climate change, says Friends of the Earth Scotland. [2]

The pledge is for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions of 40% by 2030. This is the level of cuts previously announced last year and does not represent any increase in effort from Europe ahead of the Paris talks.[3] Scotland is already committed achieving more than this by 2020 and exceeding 60% reductions by 2030. Today’s communication also does not cover any financial or technological support for countries on the front line of climate change impacts.

Dr Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, commented:

“There is a huge gap between what climate science and equity tells us Europe needs to do and the agreement concluded by Ministers today. Governments describe their climate pledges as ambitious but they are failing to move us away from fossil fuels anything like fast enough. Scotland continues to set a strong benchmark, which we will be highlighting at the Paris talks.”

“By locking in inadequate climate action, Europe is threatening lives and livelihoods across the world. This target is based on outdated science and is much less than the EU could achieve if it reduced energy consumption and shifted to more renewable sources of energy” 

The United Nations climate talks in Paris in December are due to agree a new international framework for tackling climate change which will detail emission reductions and provide finance for countries to adapt to those changes.

The European Union is the second party, after Switzerland, to communicate a commitment to emissions reductions beyond 2020. All 195 nations have been requested to publish, by the end of March, the carbon cuts they intend to make.

Notes to Editors

1. Environment Council statement http://ec.europa.eu/clima/news/articles/news_2015030601_en.htm

2. Climate Fairshares is a tool created by Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Jubilee South and the Stockholm Environment Institute to help show how much effort each country must undertake if we're to avoid catastrophic climate change in a fair and just way. http://www.climatefairshares.org/

3. Reaction to EU climate targets (October 2014) http://www.foeeurope.org/EU-climate-deal-puts-polluters-before-people-24…

4. Briefing on what’s at stake in Paris: http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/sites/www.foe-scotland.org.uk/files/Demand%20Climate%20Justice!%20the%20Road%20to%20Paris%20briefing,%20Feb%202015.pdf

5. During previous climate negotiations, countries agreed to publicly outline what actions they intend to take under a global agreement well before the Paris Summit. These country commitments are known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). http://www.wri.org/indc-definition

6. Friends of the Earth Scotland is calling on First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to join the fight for a fair and ambitious climate deal in Paris this year http://act.foe-scotland.org.uk/lobby/FM-climate-action

7. Friends of the Earth Scotland is:
* Scotland's leading environmental campaigning organisation
* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland
* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 74 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups.