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The Brief: EU declares a climate emergency

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By Jack Parrock
The Brief: EU declares a climate emergency

Europe has declared a climate emergency.

After a vote of 429 MEPs in favour and 225 against, Europe became the first continent to make this declaration.

This comes after the worldwide movement of youth climate protests demanding politicians take more action. The motion tabled by the Renew Europe group calls on governments to ensure all relevant new laws and budget proposals are fully aligned with the target of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

"It's about declaring a state of emergency, I would say in terms of climate and environment, but also to act accordingly, to take very concrete actions in line with this emergency. So it's not only declaring emergency it's also acting, taking the right political decisions, having this mindset,” French MEP Pascal Canfin said.

During the debate in Strasbourg, some members brought up the environmental impact of the Parliament's monthly routine of everyone travelling from Brussels. The travel alone is estimated to produce 19,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

However, reducing its carbon footprint won’t be easy for all EU member states. Some countries like Poland are still heavily reliant on coal - and while the motion is calling for a 55 per cent reduction in carbon emissions - green groups say it's still not enough.

"The 55 per cent target that the European Parliament and a number of governments are calling for is not yet in line with the 2ºC target. For Greenpeace and other environmental groups, this target needs to be ramped up to 65 per cent. This is what climate action looks like," said Sebastian Mang, the climate policy advisor at Greenpeace EU.

The incoming European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has made a so-called New Green Deal her flagship policy as they take up their mandate from December the first.

And other news in brief:

  • The European Parliament has called on the EU to accede to the Convention on preventing and combating violence against women, also known as the Istanbul Convention.
  • The non-legislative resolution was adopted by 500 votes in favour and 91 against.
  • It calls on the Council to urgently conclude the EU ratification of the Convention.
  • It also urges the seven member states that have signed but not yet ratified it to do so without delay.