November 2, 2014 - Copenhagen, Denmark: One month after unprecedented numbers of people took to the streets calling for more climate action as part of the Peoples’ Climate Marches, the world’s peak body of climate scientists has issued its starkest warning yet about the choice facing humanity.
The people have spoken, businesses demand action, investors want long term certainty and science could not send a clearer signal than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report.
With the release of the final installment of the report - ending a five year process covering 30,000 pieces of evidence and involving over 2000 scientists - the baton has now been handed to governments who need to scale up the ongoing transition from dirty to clean energy and deliver the new, global climate agreement due in Paris next year.
Samantha Smith, leader of WWF’s Global Climate & Energy Initiative, said the world’s best scientists have given us a good, clear measuring stick for what the world needs to do to combat rampant climate change.
“It’s easy to look at what science requires and be overwhelmed,” Smith said. “But what the IPCC is really telling us is that we have an historic opportunity to secure a clean, just and safer future for the world and the people that live in it.”
The report confirms the experience of many vulnerable communities around the world: impacts of climate change, such as sea level rise, ice melt and ocean acidification, are hitting home much faster than previously thought.
Though there is a pressing need to boost support to make communities more resilient to these impacts, Harjeet Singh, International Coordinator Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Adaptation for ActionAid International, said the IPCC warns that there are limits to adaptation.
“This means that in some cases floods, cyclones, sea-level rise and drought will be so extreme that people can no longer cope with them,” Singh said.
“That is why developing countries have been demanding meaningful ways to support those communities battered by the climate change impacts that they have not even caused.”
To avoid the worst impacts, the IPCC spells out the need to phase out carbon pollution entirely in favour of a scaling up of the transition to clean energy. The report says switching our investments to renewable energy in the next few decades will be cheaper than paying a rapidly growing bill for "severe, pervasive, and irreversible impacts.”
Kaisa Kosonen, Greenpeace climate policy advisor said there had been a huge breakthrough in the affordability and effectiveness of renewable energy as well as technologies for smart energy use since the last IPCC report in 2007.
“Let’s face it - the science is in and it’s game over for fossil fuels,” Kosonen said. “The IPCC spells out the benefits of scaling up the transition to renewable energy, such as affordability, better public health and more jobs.”
“What started with a decade of coal will be known as the century of renewables -economics and co-benefits are on their side, while the opposite is true for nuclear and carbon capture and storage,” she said.
Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists said early next year, governments must put forward their climate action commitments towards an international agreement to limit climate change due to be signed in Paris, in December 2015. That agreement must signal a collective decision by society to end the fossil fuel age and to embrace the dawning renewable energy era.
“The world's scientists could not have made it clearer: to avoid truly devastating climate impacts, we must move rapidly to phase out our use of polluting fossil fuels,” Meyer said.
“Political leaders now face a choice: they can either put policies in place to achieve this essential shift, or they can spend the rest of their careers dealing with climate disaster after climate disaster,” he said.
Contact: Ria Voorhaar, +49 157 317 355 68, rvooorhaar @ climatenetwork.org
Audio available on request
24 October 2014, Brussels
This morning European leaders meeting at the European Council in Brussels agreed on a proposal for a new set of climate and energy targets for 2030. CAN Europe  is disappointed by their failure to adequately increase the levels of ambition for action on greenhouse gas emission reductions, renewable energy and energy savings.
Clearly, this decision does not respond to the urgency to act on climate change as reflected in the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which will be finalised next week . Nor does it give the necessary incentives to Europe's industry to invest in low-carbon technologies and reap the full economic and employment benefits of such investments. More ambitious renewable energy and energy savings targets would also substantially increase Europe's energy independence and be one of the best responses to dealing with Russia's threats towards the Ukraine and the EU.
This decision is the first step in a longer process. Further work needs to start now to develop legislative proposals that will greatly increase Europe's ambitions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase renewable energy and promote energy savings. An improved proposal will be crucial for the EU’s ability to negotiate an adequate international agreement with strong commitments from all major emitters, by the end of the climate talks in Paris in December 2015.
CAN Europe comments on:
“Cutting carbon by at least 40% is clearly not in line with Europe's ambition to decarbonise by 2050. The target will also fail to give the right incentives to Europe's industry to invest in low-carbon technologies and reap the full economic and employment benefits of such investments. This target puts Europe at risk of being locked into a costly high-carbon energy infrastructure and catastrophic runaway climate change.”
“The European Commission must urgently act upon the “at least” placed in front of the 40%, and propose an increase to the emission reduction target. Only then can Europe show the world it is serious about climate action and help create positive momentum for the international climate negotiations.”
“Unbelievably, Member States have further weakened and adopted a non-binding energy savings target of at least 27%. This will effectively slow down progress on energy savings after 2020 compared to current trends. By putting a leash on energy savings, they are losing out on increased energy security while throwing away cost-effective emission reductions and jobs growth in Europe.”
“The 27% renewable energy target is a clear setback from the policies and development that are currently in place, implying a dramatic slow down in the growth of renewable energy . Its a weak target that fails to recognise the on going transformation of our energy system being championed by citizens and many industrial sectors.”
“The low EU renewables target - not accompanied by national binding targets - means Europe risks missing out on the potential benefits that further development of the renewable energy industry would have for Europe's economy, its people and climate.”
Policy experts are available for detailed analysis on request.
1. Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe is Europe's largest coalition working on climate and energy issues. With over 120 member organisations in more than 25 European countries, CAN Europe works to prevent dangerous climate change and promote sustainable climate and energy policy in Europe.
2. The 40th Session of IPCC (adoption and approval of SYR AR5) will be held in Copenhagen, Denmark between 27-31 October 2014 - http://www.ipcc-syr.nl/
3. From 6.4% per cent per year between 2010 and 2020 to 1.4% per cent per year, between 2020 and 2030 (source: Greenpeace, based on European Commission data).
This evening in Brussels, Miguel Arias Cañete, Commissioner-designate for Climate Action and Energy, faced tough questions from Members of the European Parliament, about his commitment to climate action and the low-carbon transformation of our energy system.
"Whatever the legal judgement, Cañete will never get rid of his image of being linked to the fossil fuel industry. We need a Climate Commissioner from a government with a more progressive record on climate action. One who shows more commitment to the urgency of climate change than Commissioner-designate Cañete has shown tonight,” said Wendel Trio, Director of CAN Europe.
“If Juncker is serious about tackling climate change then he needs to appoint a Commissioner prepared to fight for increased climate ambition, who will challenge Member States to go beyond what they are currently prepared to do. He also needs a Vice-President that treats energy and climate action equally,” added Trio.
“We need all Commissioners to integrate climate change into their portfolios, in particular all those who are part of the climate and energy project team. Which strangely enough is not the case right now,” concluded Wendel Trio, Director of CAN Europe.
We are just one year away from the Climate Summit in Paris, where the world is expected to adopt a new legal global agreement on climate action. The world is looking at Europe to determine the level of ambition with which the negotiations are approached. The scientific evidence is clear, the impacts of current inadequate policies will be devastating, not only for poor people across the globe, but also for the people of Europe. The new European Commission has a clear role to play in setting the bar as high as possible on climate action.
CAN INTERNATIONAL AND GCCA REACTION
The UNSG's Climate Summit today contributed to the growing sense that the fossil fuel era is ending and delivered some momentum towards an international climate agreement to be signed in Paris next year, according to civil society groups organized in two major networks.
A small but growing number of countries joined UNSG Ban Ki-moon and actor Leonardo diCaprio to confirm the need to speed up the switch from fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy, such as Samoa, Tuvalu, Costa Rica and Denmark. Other countries, like Sweden, Trinidad and Tobago, Ethiopia and Iceland pledged to go carbon neutral by 2050.
While the Summit produced positive signals and some money on the table for climate action, many governments came to New York today to merely restate what they are already doing. As the almost 700,000 people who joined the Peoples Climate marches over the weekend know, what they are already doing is not nearly enough.
"Leaders in New York, including US President Barack Obama, acknowledged they can no longer act against the will of the people. And on the weekend, the will of the people was made profoundly clear. Mums and dads, people of faith, progressive business leaders, union members and youth - all are already taking action in massive numbers, and they expect Heads of Government to join them and do more, now," Climate Action Network director Wael Hmaidan said.
"Government leaders have the choice to lead the orderly transformation of our societies or to end up on the wrong side of history."
China should be commended for signaling its intention to peak emissions as soon as possible. Such moves along with more ambitious actions by the US - which President Obama hinted at - could accelerate negotiations towards the global climate agreement due next year. We now need them to translate their positive rhetoric into concrete commitments – carbon cuts and climate finance for the world's vulnerable nations.
Christian Aid's Senior Climate Change Advisor Mohamed Adow said, "those countries that are hawking old goods today have to go back to their capitals with a renewed determination to get their countries on the right path with the words of the Marshall Islands', Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner ringing in their ears, who said in the opening ceremony on behalf of civil society "We deserve to not just survive. We deserve to thrive."
About CAN and GCCA
Climate Action Network (CAN) is a global network of over 900 NGOs working to promote government and individual action to limit human-induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels. More at: www.climatenetwork.org
The Global Call for Climate Action is an international network of diverse non-proﬁt organizations working to mobilize civil society and galvanize public opinion in support of climate action. More at: www.tcktcktck.org
Further Civil Society statements here:
EU Specific Statements:
European Citizens summit attendees call upon leaders to increase climate action at New York Climate Summit.
[23 September, EU Citizens Summit, Brussels]
On the morning of the UN Climate Summit in New York , hundreds of people attending the European Citizens Summit  in Brussels have sent messages calling for their governments to ramp up action on climate change.
Climate Action Network Europe (CAN Europe) and Friends of the Earth Europe offered people attending the summit the opportunity to send their ‘Climate Asks’ to the Ban Ki-moon Summit. Many concerned people wrote strong messages, demanding urgent climate action from their heads of state or government who are due to meet today at the UN in New York.
The messages uniformly called for immediate, concrete and ambitious action from the talks: “SERIOUSLY, Do Something ”, read one; “concrete action! No progress reports!” read another. Others called on world leaders to “stop funding fossil fuels”, and called for the EU to adopt binding 40% energy efficiency targets for 2030.
"European citizens are worried about climate change and want our leaders to act. The New York Summit is the opportunity for our governments to live up to the expectations of the European public. We want to hear new plans to increase renewable energy, lower energy consumption, reduce the use of fossil fuels and expand financial support to climate action in poor countries," said Wendel Trio Director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe.
“This summit is a moment for the EU to signal increased ambition in the run-up to October’s EU Council on 2030 targets. It would be embarrassing for its weak and ineffective proposal on emission reductions, energy savings and renewables targets to be presented in front of so many world leaders in New York,” said Susann Scherbarth, Climate and Energy Campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe.
The action follows on from the global People’s Climate March, which saw the largest ever mobilization of people calling for governments and polluters to stop blocking the urgent action required to halt catastrophic climate change. More than 400,000 people took to the streets of New York, while more than 2000 people marched in Brussels on Sunday. Marchers have signaled this is as the beginning of a growing public movement away from a fossil fuelled economy.
 The UN Climate Summit has been organised by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. It is intended to increase political momentum ahead of December 2015 when a new international climate agreement will be signed at the UN climate negotiations in Paris.
 The European Citizens Summit is an annual conference organised by the EU Civil Society Contact Group, aiming to envision a Europe for and from citizens. The Civil Society Contact Group (CSCG) brings together eight large rights and value based NGO sectors. Jointly we organise the second edition of the Summit in September 2014. This event will address Europe’s growth obsession and create a space for citizens to discuss an alternative vision of Europe. http://citizenssummit.eu/
[Brussels – September 22, 2014]
A group of leading NGOs active in the Balkan region  are calling for urgent reform of the Energy Community Treaty, as its Ministerial Council prepares to meet in Kiev on September 23rd . The groups are calling for both the expansion of the environmental and climate component of the Treaty and measures to ensure that existing obligations are better enforced.
"Energy Community Treaty reform is a once in a decade opportunity to garner support for the EU's neighbours to meet EU climate and energy targets", said Garret Tankosić-Kelly, Principal of SEE Change Net Foundation.
"The New Climate Economy report demonstrates that sustainable development is only attainable through the joint action of countries at all income levels, particularly in the energy sector which is still the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the Balkans," added Dragana Mileusnic of CAN Europe.
Recent changes in the European Commission structure, where high priority has been given to the concept of an Energy Union, under Vice-President Alenka Bratušek, are expected to lead to the EU strengthening its cooperation with the Energy Community in the following years.
"Governments in Contracting Parties must give EU environmental law as much importance as EU energy rules. Only with the stronger environmental rules can we ensure the creation of a fair common energy market for the EU and the Energy Community," said Malgorzata Smolak of Client Earth.
Weak enforcement of Energy Community rules set forth in the Treaty remains one of the major obstacles for their full implementation. Strengthening enforcement must be the top priority of the reform, while more EU environmental legislation needs to be included in the Treaty, NGOs concluded. They also expect to be more effectively engaged in the work of the Energy Community to ensure better transparency and public participation.
 The NGOs are: SEE Change Net Foundation, Bosnia and Herzegovina ∙ Client Earth, Poland ∙ Front 21/42, Macedonia ∙ CAN Europe, Belgium ∙ Analytica, Macedonia ∙ Advocacy and Training Resource Center – ATRC, Kosovo ∙ CEKOR, Serbia ∙ Public Interest Advocacy Center – CPI, Bosnia and Herzegovina ∙ Center for Environment, Bosnia and Herzegovina ∙ DOOR, Croatia ∙ Environmental Center for Development, Education and Networking – EDEN, Albania ∙ Ekolevizja, Albania ∙ Eko-Svest, Macedonia ∙ Forum for Freedom of Education – FSO, Croatia ∙ Fractal, Serbia ∙ Green Home, Montenegro ∙ MANS, Montenegro ∙ World Wide Fund For Nature - Mediterranean Programme∙ CEE Bankwatch Network, Czech Republic.
 The Energy Community is an organisation set up to help the countries of the Western Balkans and the Black Sea region adopt and implement existent EU energy policies (EU Energy Acquis). The Ministerial Council is the highest decision-making body of the Energy Community and comprises of the energy Ministers from the Contracting Parties and representatives of the European Union.