‘Climate crisis has never been treated as crisis’ scientists and activists tell EU leaders in open letter

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Hundreds of scientists, thousands of activists and famous environmentalists including Greta Thunberg have signed an open letter that has been sent out to EU leaders.

Outlining how world leaders have been capable to step up and act swiftly during the COVID-19 pandemic, the signatories point out that similar urgency has not been present in their efforts to combat climate change.

Signed by young European climate activists Luisa Neubauer, Greta Thunberg, Anuna de Wever van der Heyden and Adélaïde Charlier, the letter states: “It is now clearer than ever that the climate crisis has never once been treated as a crisis, neither from the politicians, media, business, nor finance.

“And the longer we keep pretending that we are on a reliable path to lower emissions and that the actions required to avoid a climate disaster are available within today’s system – or for that matter that we can solve a crisis without treating it like one – the more precious time we will lose.”

The letter goes on to outline the insufficiency of EU climate policies as well as the need to attend to social and racial injustice as they are all interconnected.

“When you signed the Paris Agreement the EU nations committed to leading the way.

“The EU has the economic and political possibility to do so, therefore it is our moral responsibility.

“And now you need to actually deliver on your promises.

“Net zero emissions by 2050 for the EU – as well as for other financially fortunate parts of the world – equals surrender.

“This target is based on a carbon budget that only gives a 50% percent chance of limiting the global heating below 1,5°C.

“That is just a statistical flip of a coin which doesn’t even include some of the key factors, such as the global aspect of equity, most tipping points and feedback loops, as well as already built in additional warming hidden by toxic air pollution.

“So in reality it is much less than a 50% chance.”

The letter, which holds signatories such as Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai and actor Leonardo DiCaprio, was sent to all EU leaders and heads of state on 16 July.

Some of the demands listed in the letter include:

  • Halt all investments in fossil fuel exploration and extraction, immediately end all fossil fuel subsidies and immediately and completely divest from fossil fuels.
  • EU member states must advocate to make ecocide an international crime at the International Criminal Court.
  • Include total emissions in all figures and targets, including consumption index, international aviation and shipping.
  • Starting today – establish annual, binding carbon budgets based on the current best available science and the IPCC’s budget which gives us a 66% chance of limiting the global temperature rise to below 1.5 °C. They need to include the global aspect of equity, tipping points and feedback loops and shouldn’t depend on assumptions of possible future negative emissions technologies.
  • Safeguard and protect democracy.
  • Design climate policies that protect workers and the most vulnerable and reduce all forms of inequality: economic, racial and gender.
  • Treat the climate- and ecological emergency like an emergency.