The fight against climate change is the fight of the century

Written by Gilles Pargneaux on 1 December 2015 in Opinion

Going into the Paris talks, we must all remember that climate finance is crucial to any deal reached, writes Gilles Pargneaux.

Over the past decade, we've talked a great deal about climate change as a prospective issue; something that needs to be dealt with now in order not to pass it on to the next generation. It needs to be said loud and clear: decisions must be taken now.

In the African region of Sahel, between 1972 and 1084, droughts and desertification resulted in starvation and the deaths of 100,000 people according to the UN. The number of climate refugees keeps growing. If nothing is done, it could reach 200 million within the next few decades.

I was responsible for defining the European Parliament's mandate for the COP 21 negotiations, and it was strongly endorsed during the October plenary. My message is simple: there needs to be a strong European commitment against climate change, and solid financial aid to take on this important challenge.


My report demands ambitious CO2 reduction targets for the EU - at least 40 per cent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, and 95 per cent by 2050. This is, in other words, a comprehensive phase out. 

The Parliament also calls for a binding target for renewables; by 2030, 30 per cent of our energy consumption should come from renewables. We have also called for 40 per cent energy efficiency by 2030.

These three targets should embody Europe's commitment against climate change. They are the basis for a paradigm shift in our economy, based on the circular economy, renewables and energy efficiency, among others. 

If we change our system, all these activities will be business-friendly and attract investment. We must remember that energy savings in Europe could save €100bn by 2020 - that's savings of €465 per household. Given the current dire economic situation, this cannot be ignored.

For this paradigm shift to happen, I believe we need a strong financial commitment on the part of developed countries, particularly the EU. Therefore, my report calls for pledges to reach €94bn ($100bn) as of 2020.

However, we also need fresh money from innovative financing opportunities; for instance, by defining a proper price for carbon, so that using eco-friendly technologies is cheaper than the most pollutant ones.

Finally, the strong idea I defended in my report - and which I will promote in Paris - is this: the fight against climate change is the fight of the century, as well as the opportunity of the century.


About the author

Gilles Pargneaux (S&D, FR) is Parliament's rapporteur on towards a new international climate agreement in Paris


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