New UN climate science review shows Europe must kick fossil fuel addiction

8 October 2018

Today's stark Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on the impacts of 1.5°C of global warming shows Europe's addiction to fossil fuels must come to an end, according to Friends of the Earth Europe.

Jagoda Munić, Director of Friends of the Earth Europe said:

"The fossil fuel age has to end: that’s the message of today’s report. To have any chance of avoiding the chaos, droughts and rising tides of 1.5 degrees or more of global warming, we must massively and speedily transform our society to kick our fossil fuel addiction.

"A safer, fairer and cleaner fossil-free Europe is possible, and communities are showing us the way – from resisting dirty energy projects everywhere, to installing community owned renewable energy schemes."

Citizens showed the way on Saturday in Germany, where an estimated 50,000 people took part in a demonstration in Hambach Forest, calling for an end to coal.

Already the world is living with dangerous levels of climate change, with communities worldwide feeling the impacts, even in temperate regions like Europe. But the new UN report predicts a different scale of extreme weather at 1.5 degrees.

The IPCC warns of devastating and even irreversible consequences of warming beyond 1.5 degrees – with the world's most vulnerable communities least able to cope.

The report shows that:

  • Time is running out and Europe must act now to eliminate all fossil fuels;
  • Multi-metre sea level rise is possible, even if warming is restricted to 1.5 degrees;
  • At current emissions rates, the world would breach 1.5 degrees by around 2040;
  • The world must reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century and achieve substantial emissions reductions by 2030 (much higher than the commitments made under the Paris Agreement) – outlining the urgency of the task;
  • It is still possible to keep within 1.5 degrees of global warming: now, we must make it happen, or billions will suffer the consequences.

In Europe, the EU is still planning to keep emitting carbon beyond 2050, and is only so far considering committing to ‘net zero emissions’ by 2050. But as one of the regions most responsible for causing climate change, and most capable of responding, it needs to act at much greater speed and scale.

Jagoda Munić continued:

“The EU must do its fair share, beginning with completely stopping funding for fossil fuels and switching to 100% renewables by 2030. Currently the EU is far off track. Going to ‘net zero’ by 2050 is simply too late for Europe to stop burning carbon – and still it does not represent zero fossil fuels. Europe needs a completely fossil-free energy system by 2030.”

Friends of the Earth Europe is calling on the European Union to:

  • Urgently increase the EU's climate ambition: increasing short term targets to 100% renewables by 2030, and a long-term vision in line with achieving 1.5 degrees;
  • Completely phase out financing and building more fossil fuel infrastructure, including gas, which shackles Europe to decades more fossil fuel use - including a fossil-free EU budget;
  • Urgently increase investment in community renewables and energy savings and transform to 100% renewables based on a democratically owned energy system.

Karin Nansen, Chair of Friends of the Earth International said:

"This is a climate emergency - for many around the world preventing climate catastrophe and temperature rises exceeding 1.5 degrees is a matter of life and death. Only radical system change offers a pathway towards hope and out of despair. We want a just transition to a clean energy system that benefits people, not corporations."

Rachel Kennerley, climate campaigner for Friends of the Earth England Wales and Northern Ireland, said:

“Just like ignoring credit card statements so that repayments only become sharper and steeper, this report shows that weak responses will make it harder in the long-run. Right now it’s difficult, but not impossible, to contain climate chaos but the window of opportunity will close for good the longer we delay.

“It’s hard to be blunter than saying there won’t be coral reefs left if governments can’t contain warming. It means a massive loss of fish that people rely on for food, and the whole ecosystem unravels costing livelihoods and lives. That is the kind of reality we must face if governments don’t take notice of this report.”


As part of the Fossil Free Europe campaign, Friends of the Earth is campaigning to: