Open letter to the European Council and the EU Commission on climate neutrality by 2050

European businesses, farmers, agricultural and forestry cooperatives support EU climate neutrality by 2050

The EU Commission is targeting climate neutrality before 2050, the EU Parliament supports this goal. There is also strong support for this ambition across the economy. Many industry sectors, farmers, agricultural and forestry cooperatives and forest owners all support this goal.

Climate change accelerates and emissions are still increasing – see attachment. More than 1000 jurisdictions in 26 countries have declared a climate emergency. EU Parliament declared climate emergency on 29 November, 2019.

 “As the European Council gathers for its meeting on 12-13 December 2019, we urge the Council to agree a target for climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest. Pursuing this objective will signal a new economic direction for Europe and enable effective planning and actions within the European Green Deal,” said Jouni Keronen, CEO, Climate Leadership Coalition.

Before the Future of Europe Summit, in May 2019 more than 100 business leaders and organisations called EU to endorse a long-term decarbonisation strategy to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. Read the letters here and here.

An ever-growing number of businesses and sectors have added their plee to this critical debate. Ahead of the UN Secretary General’s Climate Action Summit in New York, 87 companies pledged to set science-based targets that align with limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C (across operations and value chains) and reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. Since then, the number of commitments has more than doubled to 177. More than half (102) are headquartered in Europe. 44 European institutional investors overseeing more than €6 trillion in assets globally have just written to the European Council. The power sector has called for the agreement on climate neutrality by 2050 and energy intensive industries such as steel, chemicals, cement, refineries, glass and beyond have delivered a masterplan on how to transform to achieve a climate-neutral economy by 2050.

Pekka Pesonen, Secretary General, Copa-Cogeca, which represents 22 million farmers and their families and brings together some 22000 agricultural and forestry cooperatives stated:

“European farmers, forest owners and their cooperatives are committed to the Paris Agreement and to fulfil the Paris Agreement objectives climate neutral economy has to be achieved in the EU by 2050. Together, we are striving to limit the world’s temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels while not endangering food security.

Agriculture and forest owners can have positive climate impacts by various ways, but the economic environment and incentives must be transformed to support better for example carbon sequestering.

We encourage the Commission to present the European Green Deal and work closely with us in the setting of ambitious but realistic objectives and targets so as to have an efficient implementation across the EU. Farmers and forest owners, entrepreneurs and food and eco-services providers will have a decisive impact on the success of Commission van der Leyen’s landmark policy. Recent farmers’ protests should recall the new Commission that adequate transition measures backed by sufficient financial support and administrative simplification are fundamental to deliver this ambitious policy.” Read the Copa-Cocega position paper here.

EU must and can take the lead

“There is no time to lose and at this crucial moment of time, the European Union can and must step up. The European Commission’s vision document, ‘A Clean Planet for All’ document outlines how climate neutrality can be achieved by 2050 and describes how the transition can have a positive effect on the European economy.

The new proposals for a European Green Deal offer an excellent opportunity for transformation we need across the economy. But we need to have clear targets to provide business and investors with the clarity and confidence to drive innovation and invest in the sustainable, net zero emissions industries of the future,” confirmed Eliot Whittington, Director of CLG Europe (Corporate Leaders Group Europe).

More information:
Eliot Whittington, Director, Centre for Policy and Industrial Transformation / The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group / CLG Europe
University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership
Eliot.Whittington@cisl.cam.ac.uk
Direct: +44-1223-768819 | Mobile: +44-7703770024

Jouni Keronen, Chief Executive Officer, Climate Leadership Coalition, jouni.keronen@clc.fi tel. +358 50 453 4881


Attachment

Climate change accelerates and emissions are still increasing

The United in Science report by world’s leading climate science organizations illustrated how global warming and sea level rise are increasing and accelerating and underlined how the gap between agreed targets to tackle global warming and the actual reality is growing. “The level of ambition needs to be roughly tripled to align with the 2°C limit and must be increased around fivefold to align with the 1.5°C limit,” was the main conclusion of the report.

The conclusion were supported by the WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin in November 2019 showing how the levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have reached another new record high. Globally averaged concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) reached 407.8 parts per million in 2018, up from 405.5 parts per million (ppm) in 2017. Since 1990, there has been a 43% increase in total radiative forcing – the warming effect on the climate – by long-lived greenhouse gases. CO2 accounts for about 80% of this.

“There is no sign of a slowdown, let alone a decline, in greenhouse gases concentration in the atmosphere despite all the commitments under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. It is worth recalling that the last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO2 was 3-5 million years ago. Back then, the temperature was 2-3°C warmer, sea level was 10-20 meters higher than now,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas in the media release.

Another new report published on October 2019 illustrated how rising seas could affect three times more people already by 2050 than previously thought, threatening to all but erase some of the world’s great coastal cities. The new research shows that some 150 million people are now living on land that will be below the high-tide line by midcentury.

The UN Emissions Gap Report in November 2019 reinforces the message that GHG emissions have risen at a rate of 1.5 per cent per year in the last decade and total GHG emissions, including from land-use change, reached a record high of 55.3 GtCO2e in 2018. The report concludes that on current unconditional pledges, the world is heading for a 3.2°C temperature rise.

“This shows that countries simply cannot wait until the end of 2020, when new climate commitments are due, to step up action. They – and every city, region, business and individual – need to act now. “If we don’t do this, the 1.5°C goal will be out of reach before 2030.” said Inger Andersen, UNEP’s Executive Director, in the publication event. The recent EU’s State of the Environment report confirmed the message.

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