The blue planet is getting warmer, and credible scientists no longer have any doubt that our activity as human beings has made a significant contribution to this. The more fossil fuels such as coal and oil are burnt, the more intensively soils are cultivated. The bigger the landfills and the more CO2 enters the atmosphere, the more the earth “sweats”. Some of the consequences are already clear. Ocean temperatures are rising, the ice of the Antarctic and at the North Pole is melting, storms and other extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and occurring in regions that had previously been spared.
In December 2015, the nations of this planet put their heads together at a unique Earth Summit in Paris (COP21) to decide on very specific global climate change objectives. One of these was to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions as a means of limiting global warming to less than 2 °C above pre-industrial levels. A highly ambitious target, which the EU and its member states advocated strongly. Climate protection begins with the individual within his or her own four walls. But to really achieve anything, it is necessary to work together. Independent initiatives are of little or no use at all. Europe has long led the way on climate policy and has repeatedly set ambitious targets. The success of this approach has long been apparent. The EU now represents only 9% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and this percentage continues to decline. China accounts for almost one third, and the USA for approximately 15%. Europe is therefore justifiably a pacesetter in climate protection.
But more and more states outside Europe are recognising the necessity of climate protection. That’s why enough countries ratified the Paris Agreement in October 2016 and it entered into force. The EU and many EU member states, including Germany, were among them, with China, India and the US also giving their approval. It is all the more dangerous that the most powerful economy, the USA, under its president Donald Trump, is now undermining the Paris climate accord.
Climate protection is not only good for the planet – done correctly and with the proper political support, it also creates new jobs and brings technological progress. From the transport of tomorrow and the equipment of buildings to the generation of heat and electricity – in all key areas of our lives where there is still too much CO2 being produced, there already exist proven climate-friendly technologies that can effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And European companies are leading the way in implementing these technologies all around the world.
The EU plans to spend up to €180 billion of its 2014-2020 budget on programmes and projects related to climate change. This is equivalent to at least 20% of the EU budget.