Europe’s Green Future Starts in Ethiopia
The European Union's ambitious new Green Deal promises to make the bloc carbon-neutral by 2050, while creating new jobs and raising living standards. But, given that Europe accounts for only 10% of global carbon emissions, the true test of its green agenda lies in its willingness to help others with their own sustainable development.
CAMBRIDGE – Devastating fires from the Amazon to Australia, powerful storms, and changing rain patterns have made it hard for policymakers to remain silent about climate change. In the United States, Democratic lawmakers and presidential candidates now talk of a Green New Deal, which they would be able to deliver if they were to reclaim the White House and the Senate in November’s presidential and congressional elections.
Similarly, in December, the European Commission approved a European Green Deal, which promises a carbon-neutral economy by 2050, widespread job creation, and a better quality of life. With a proposed budget of €1 trillion ($1.1 trillion), the plan is not lacking in ambition. But some have questioned whether the European Green Deal can have a meaningful global impact on climate change. After all, the European Union accounts for only around 10% of global carbon dioxide emissions, which means that even major local achievements in Europe could be swamped by increasing emissions elsewhere.
One would expect Europeans to lead the way in supporting other countries – especially in the developing world – in their efforts to decarbonize their energy mix. If there is one country that stands out for its potential to realize the ideals of the European Green Deal, it is Ethiopia. If Europe follows up its words with action, it could help Ethiopia decarbonize, create jobs, and improve living standards not in 2050, but in the near term.