The European Union has proved its global responsibility by “relentlessly defending the Paris Agreement on climate change,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said in his state of the union speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on September 12.
“We did this because, as Europeans, we want to leave a healthier planet behind for those that follow. I share our Energy Commissioner’s conclusions when it comes to our targets for reducing CO2 emissions by 2030. They are both scientifically accurate and politically indispensable,” Juncker said.
EU Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete acknowledged in a tweet on September 12 that “Juncker reiterates the strength of the EU in the fight against climate change and supports our climate and energy objectives for 2030” at the state of the union speech.
On the same note, European Commission Vice President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič said the EU has to lead the way in the fight against climate change. “As Europeans we want to leave a healthier planet behind for those that follow. We cannot turn a blind eye to the challenge in front of our noses. We must look to the future,” Šefčovič tweed.
In his speech, Juncker noted that this summer’s droughts are a stark reminder – not only for farmers – of just how important that work is to safeguard the future for generations of Europeans. “We cannot turn a blind eye to the challenge in front of our noses. We – Commission and Parliament –must look to the future,” the Commission President warned. “Only a strong and united Europe can protect our citizens against threats internal and external – from terrorism to climate change,” he said, reminding that at the beginning of this mandate, one of the collective promises of the Commission was to deliver an Energy Union with a forward-looking climate policy.
Meanwhile, reacting to Juncker’s state of the union address, Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe said that on climate change, this speech lacked concrete new announcements. “President Juncker has recognized that climate change is already wreaking havoc in Europe, but failed to acknowledge that to protect its citizens the EU needs to significantly scale up its climate action,” CAN Europe Director Wendel Trio said, noting that the new energy targets which translate into 45% emission cuts by 2030 are only the starting point for the real discussion on how the EU can met the targets of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. “It was disappointing that he has failed to outline the Commission’s plans for the new long-term climate strategy, which needs to include a clear commitment to reduce emissions to net zero well before 2050 and to keep temperature rise to 1.5°C,” Trio said.