Yesterday's climate summit in New York was a historic moment with 400 000 people demanding climate justice on the streets outside, more than 2 800 events organised by citizens in 166 countries worldwide, and 120 heads of state agreeing to action on climate change. Yet real action from the European Union – amongst others – was curiously missing.
European Commission President Barroso indicated that the EU is set to continue its business as usual approach to meeting its climate responsibilities, with EU climate targets for 2030 set to be agreed in October.
Reacting to Barroso's speech, Susann Scherbarth, climate and energy campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe said: "The climate challenge is too serious to wait and to make weak and ineffective decisions like the EU is about to do. Amid talk from all sides of collective ambition, Barosso failed to signal in his speech that the EU will increase its 2030 climate and energy targets beyond 40% emission reductions - far below what the EU's fair share ought to be."
There was also no indication that there would be any increase in financial contributions to developing countries to assist in combating climate change.
Susann Scherbarth continued: "€3 billion of assistance to the developing world over the next seven years is insufficient and inadequate – the global North has a collective responsibility to account for its historic emissions, and the means to do so. It must accept its fair share."
Friends of the Earth International Climate Justice and Energy coordinator Dipti Bhatnagar was sceptical about the structure and practicalities of the financial assistance: "The Climate Summit was a fool's paradise out of touch with the climate emergency we are facing. The finance pledges tabled at the Summit had no specifics, no timelines, and nothing saying if they are about new and additional climate finance or simply aid pledged in the past and diverted from its original destination."
Serious concerns were also raised about the lack of accountability for corporate commitments to tackle climate change.
Six energy companies announced today that they have signed a pact to curb methane emissions, but Dipti Bhatnagar added: "The energy companies pact is a purely voluntary pact: they are not under obligation to disclose their emissions. This pact is just one additional half-baked corporate measure, a drop in the ocean when it comes to saving the climate. But it will surely help companies greenwashing their dirty image,"
Solutions to the climate crisis lie in shifting the focus towards citizens, alongside strong leadership on climate and energy targets from Europe. Friends of the Earth Europe believes that the EU must commit to strong, adequate targets on emission reductions, energy efficiency, and renewables in October.
"What we need is a true energy transformation with people at its heart, which means getting away from vested corporate interests and investment in fossil fuels, and instead supporting community-controlled renewable energy," said Susann Scherbarth.