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Europe Must Answer the Climate Call

After leading by example to clinch the Paris climate agreement in 2015, the European Union must step up again as it revisits its initial target for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. The latest scientific findings show that the world is confronting a climate emergency that demands leadership that only Europe can now provide.

BRUSSELS – In early 2015, the European Union became the first major economy to set a post-2020 target for limiting greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions. By committing to reducing emissions to at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, the EU initiated a global movement that culminated in the adoption of the Paris climate agreement later that year.

This week, the EU has an opportunity to take up the banner of climate leadership once again. EU leaders are currently discussing the bloc’s approach to the United Nations Climate Action Summit this September, which UN Secretary-General António Guterres hopes will serve as a political launchpad for a new round of commitments to cut GHG emissions.

The European Council must get the ball rolling, by adopting the 55% reduction target that the European Parliament endorsed in March. This is a time for bold action, not incrementalism. Recognizing that the initial targets fell well short of what was needed, the Paris agreement requires participating countries to revisit their earlier commitments every five years. Governments have committed to strengthening their targets to reflect their “highest possible ambition,” and the first such revision is due by 2020.

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