COP23: EU acts as if climate change a distant prospect

17 November 2017

As two weeks of UN climate talks draw to a close in Bonn, Germany, Friends of the Earth Europe pointed to actions by civil society and developing countries which helped push through progress on short-term emissions reduction commitments. But it said that, on the whole, rich countries including the European Union had once again shown poor leadership and acted as if climate change is a distant prospect, when in reality it is already destroying people's lives and livelihoods around the world.

Jagoda Munic, director of Friends of the Earth Europe, said: "The world's remaining carbon budget is shrinking with every year of insufficient progress. The European Union claims to be a climate leader but this does not hold true as long as its economy is still based on fossil fuels. Next week the EU is set to announce plans for up to 90 new gas infrastructure projects – these are totally incompatible with the Paris Agreement. People power was visible here in Bonn and that strong people's movement is where the real climate leadership is."

During the COP23 talks it was reported that global greenhouse gas emission are rising again after several years of stagnation and that 2017 is set to be one of the hottest three years on record

Celia Zoe Wicher from Young Friends of the Earth Europe said: "Our countries' leaders are failing us by favouring corporate interests and their own profits over the livelihoods of people already suffering from the impacts of climate change today and also those of future generations. They are not leaving us with many options but to challenge them, as youth, in the streets, at elections, and in court." [4]

The 2018 talks, COP24, will take place in Katowice, Poland. Urszula Stefanowicz of Friends of the Earth Poland concluded: "Next year's climate talks will be hosted by Poland for the third time in ten years – this puts our government in a position of great responsibility for the whole process. Poland needs to be more than a good host. In Katowice the Polish presidency has to ensure the delivery of urgent climate action and it needs to demonstrate that coal regions like Silesia can shift away from fossil fuels in a socially just way." 

During the COP23 in Bonn, Friends of the Earth International, its member groups and allies staged a flurry of creative actions. More than 25,000 people marched through Bonn in the biggest anti-coal protest in German history, and a protest in front of Kraftwerk Köln-Neurath lignite power station demanded an end to coal. These actions echoed displays of 'people power' against dirty energy across the world and supported by Friends of the Earth International.

A new study released at the beginning of the talks by Friends of the Earth Europe showed that fossil fuels, including natural gas, can have no substantial role beyond 2035 in an EU energy system compatible with limiting global warming to 2°C