Agriculture, Building, Transport, Governance
EN
Dr. Michiel Schaeffer, Climate Analytics
EN

How can science guide governments in responding to the climate crisis?

"I believe the climate crisis is very clear, the science is very clear. There are substantial differences between 1.5 and 2 degrees. I think it’s time governments realised that these differences are very large, that risks are much lower at 1.5 degrees though even there, they are not at all negligible. 


The science is also clear that getting to well below 2 degrees or 1.5. degrees requires zero emissions by 2050 globally for CO2, and just two decades later for total greenhouse gases. 


Translating that information from the global level to a region like the EU, to the EU member states, is challenging, but we have achieved a lot of progress. 


It is clear that getting to zero emissions by 2050 for the EU is a very good idea. However, the pathway to get there is also essential, for two reasons: 


First, if the emissions in the mid-term like until 2030 are too high, for example at the current EU’s NDC [the climate pledge towards the UN climate talks] level, that is not sufficient. Because the overall emissions in the whole time period until 2050 are too high to achieve the Paris Agreement goals. 


Secondly, if the emissions by 2030 are still too high, you also set up the system for failure, because then the 2030 to 2050 emissions [reductions] will be very rapid whereas we haven’t actually made the changes necessary in the decade to 2030 to make them happen. 


So that’s one very important element at the global and at the EU level. And if you go to the member states of the EU, that’s of course where the real action happens. We did a lot of work on this and recently came up with very interesting concepts that I think will be very helpful to shape policy and to engage action. If you go into the member states and you look at what is actually happening, what are the best examples in businesses, in communities, around the country or around the region… If you add it all together and scale that up in a country - doesn’t matter if it’s South, West or Eastern Europe -  if you look locally at all of those actions and scale them up to a nation and you scale them up to the EU, then actually we get pretty close to what we need to do anyway for the Paris Agreement. And in some sectors, we go even beyond the minimum level required for 1.5 degrees. So studies like this, as well as all of the work done to look at the economic and technical feasibility, show that the EU and its member states can make their contributions to achieve 1.5 degrees at a global scale."

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