EU leaders meeting in Romania missed an opportunity to act on growing public demand for stronger action against climate change, an architect of the Paris agreement said Friday.
Laurence Tubiana, who now heads the European Climate Foundation, said the lack of ambition on climate was all the more glaring at a summit touting efforts to tackle future challenges.
“I think it is a missed opportunity,” Tubiana told journalists in Brussels following Thursday’s summit in Sibiu. “I’m really disappointed with Sibiu.”
Tubiana said Germany, the European Union’s biggest economy, is “dragging its feet” on demands from other EU countries to ensure Europe moves to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Speaking in Sibiu on Thursday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stopped short of taking up the call by eight EU countries to meet the target.
“Because our targets for 2050 differ, I have not yet been able to fully support this initiative,” Merkel told reporters.
She said the “first step” was for the EU to meet its pledge to reduce its carbon emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.
The eight countries appealing for zero emissions are France, Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden, according to a copy seen by AFP.
At a Brussels summit in March, French President Emmanuel Macron complained fellow leaders had failed to pursue the 2050 target in line with their pledges to the Paris accord.
“We are one, a European generation that was born into a climate crisis. And whose future depends on an #EU that recognizes their responsibility in protecting our future”
Read young Europeans’ open letter urging #SibuitSummit leaders to take #ClimateAction https://t.co/ClNxFsZJTA pic.twitter.com/GZlXqkWvdz
— Fridays For Future Germany (@FridayForFuture) May 9, 2019
Tubiana said there was a “dissonance” between the attitude of government officials and the demand from a public increasingly concerned about the impact of climate change.
However, she said there was a “shift in the centre of gravity” in the debate as mainstream political parties in Germany and elsewhere feel the need to forge positions on global warming.
She also said economic powerhouse China’s push for new technologies like electric cars was putting competitive pressure on EU firms to do the same.
Tubiana hoped for a new opportunity for leaders to step up their climate ambition at the June summit in Brussels, following May’s European Parliament elections.
As for the Paris climate deal she helped craft, Tubiana said “it sticks,” adding there has been “no domino effect” since US President Donald Trump pulled out of the accord.
The 195-nation UN pact sealed in Paris calls for capping the rise in Earth’s temperature at “well under” two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), and 1.5C if possible.