The EU and Biden: a turnaround in the fight against climate change
BarcelonaThe change in the presidency of the United States, with the end of the denialist Donald Trump and the entry of Joe Biden - who puts the fight against the climate emergency as one of his programmatic priorities -, and the agreement of the European Union to reduce the emissions of CO 2 by 55 per cent in the next decade, give the international community some wisdom in order to stop the self-destructive drift. However, there is no cause for triumphalism, because it remains to be seen how far both American and European commitment will go, and what capacity China and India have to drag in this renewed positive dynamic that comes exactly five years after the approval of the Paris Agreement. If we add to this turn of events the popular protest movement, especially among young people, led by Greta Thunberg, and a pandemic that has led a large part of the population to reconnect with its naturalist sensibility, we are really facing a new momentum that should be fully exploited to achieve irreversible progress, both quantitative (with the reduction of emissions and, therefore, of fossil energy consumption) and qualitative (with public awareness).
Regarding quantitative progress, the EU agreement is important. It could have been even more ambitious, as demanded by the European Parliament (which had called for a 60% reduction in emissions by 2030) or by the climate NGOs (which had set a target of 65%), but the 55% commitment is remarkable and has been achieved by overcoming the resistance of countries such as Poland, which is heavily dependent on coal. It is true that the reduction effort will be made asymmetrically, so that not all countries will have to comply with the 55% target, but if the threshold is indeed reached, it will be a further step forward. It is also true that the agreement accepts transitional energy mixes that include gas. Progress, yes, has a hesitant point. But it is still a clear step forward. If, in addition, the United States is once again in line with the Paris objectives and those set at the COP26 summit to be held next year in Glasgow (which had to be delayed due to the pandemic), the international community can regain some optimism. What happens in Glasgow will undoubtedly be key.
The current balance sheet is ambivalent. On the one hand, this 2020 may be the warmest year ever recorded, but on the other hand it is also true that the governments, regions and cities that have committed to reducing emissions to zero already account for 50% of global GDP. The glass can thus be seen as either half full or half empty. The important thing is that world public opinion continues to exert pressure and that Europe and the United States take leadership on climate issues seriously. The way out of the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus can only be green. It seems that, at least in Brussels, this is clear to them. It will be necessary, however, for the EU states, one by one, to assume their share of climate responsibility without subterfuge. And that all citizens, in our daily lives, act accordingly.