BRUSSELS – Contrary to US President Donald J Trump’s arguments, climate change is real and Europe should lead the way in taking preventive measures to mitigate the consequences of global warming, EU Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Commissioner Christos Stylianides told New Europe in an interview in Brussels on November 6.

“The European Union is leading by example, especially because we insist to implement the Paris agreement and this is why we disagree with the Trump Administration about their assessment that climate change is fake news. It’s not fake news. It’s happening now and the consequences and repercussions already affected all of us and particularly in Europe,” Stylianides said.

Trump cast doubt on the overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is caused by human activity. Trump pulled out of the landmark Paris climate accord last year and his administration has quashed several environmental regulations.

In light of the dramatic impact of climate change, which affects the whole of Europe, the Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Commissioner from Cyprus called for upgrading of the EU’s civil protection response, which should plug the gaps in the current emergency response and focus on prevention. He called for adopting further joint measures and policies under the rescEU proposal in order to respond to disasters more efficiently and effectively.

“This is why I proposed this new proposal regarding the upgrade of the European Union civil protection mechanism – rescEU – because of the climate change. This is the only way in order to take preventive measures and to insist on prevention and preparedness and to mitigate the consequences of climate change,” Stylianides said. The new rescEU will complement national systems, rather than replacing them, he said, adding that it should be a safety net.

“This is why I proposed rescEU, mainly inside Europe. But also definitely, we have to insist on the implementation of the Paris agreement across the world in order to mitigate the consequences and the damages,” he said.

The United Nations’ scientific panel studying climate change issued a stark warning last month about the impact rising global temperatures will have on the planet if carbon emissions continue to rise. The landmark report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that there is only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.

The authors of the climate report said urgent and unprecedented changes are needed to reach the target. According to climate scientists, limiting global warming to 1.5°C will have huge benefits, including less of sea-level rises and salt water polluting fresh water supplies. In addition, there would be fewer long-lasting heat waves, which can be fatal to humans and ecosystems. Moreover, hurricanes and typhoons would cause less flooding.

Stylianides called for investing in regions worse affected by the results of climate change. “Of course, we have to invest in Africa and everywhere in order to take preventive measures against climate change,” the Commissioner said, stressing that the problem of the climate change is one of the root causes of migrant flows and influxes. “Definitely and this why personally I always focus on this,” he said.

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