Official Journal of the European Union

C 128/1


Resolution of the European Economic and Social Committee on Climate Change on the occasion of the United Nations Climate Change Conference — Copenhagen, 7-18 December 2009

(2010/C 128/01)

At the plenary session held on 4-5 November 2009 (meeting of 5 November 2009), the European Economic and Social Committee adopted the following resolution by 156 votes to two, with five abstentions.

The European Economic and Social Committee, as the institutional representative of organised civil society at European Union level, approves the following message to Governments, leaders, negotiators and other parties involved with the climate change negotiations in Copenhagen and with the development and implementation of climate change policies:

‘Climate change is already having adverse and possibly irreversible impacts in many parts of the world. These problems can only get worse in the years ahead if greenhouse gases continue to accumulate in the atmosphere at the present rate. The scientific analysis by the IPCC and other authoritative sources shows very clearly that developed countries will have to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by over 80 % by 2050 if temperature rises are to be kept to safe levels. To put the world on a realistic pathway to achieve such reductions will require a 25-40 % reduction by 2020, and significant efforts by emerging and developing countries.

The forthcoming conference in Copenhagen is critical. A successful outcome could set the world on a path towards reducing emissions in the years ahead, and stabilising temperature increases at manageable levels. Failure could set the world on an ever more dangerous path towards accelerating temperature increases and the human and ecological disasters that would ensue.

1.   At this critical moment the European Economic and Social Committee calls on governments, leaders and negotiators to redouble their efforts to reach a universal and binding agreement that will unite all countries and their peoples in a common effort to reduce the level of emissions in the years ahead and to safeguard the world’s environment in which we and future generations find our home.

2.   The European Union has offered to commit itself to 30 % reductions by 2020 if other countries make comparable efforts. Europe has repeatedly called for comparable levels of commitment by other developed countries, and for significant efforts also to be made by the emerging economies that are fast catching up with or overtaking the developed world as the largest emitters of greenhouse gases. We urge that that position be resolutely maintained.

3.   We are deeply concerned about the failure of the negotiations so far to make the crucial breakthroughs needed. In whatever way the final stages of the negotiations develop we urge the European Union not to be tempted to use a failure to gain sufficient support from others as an excuse to reduce its own ambitions, or to lower its own commitment to whatever might emerge as a lowest common denominator in Copenhagen. That would be bad both for Europe and for the world. Even if there is not yet a universal consensus on the European level of ambition at Copenhagen we urge the Union to maintain its own level of commitment and to seek to build a strong coalition of other developed and developing nations who are ready to commit to comparable levels of ambition, and to undertake the necessary measures to achieve this.

4.   We should continue to push forward the industrial and social transformations that are required to meet the 30 % reduction goal by 2020 as a central part of transforming the European economy to a new eco-efficient low carbon sustainable model. We need to make an unprecedented research and development effort in the energy sector in order to offer credible technical alternatives to businesses, the public authorities and the general public. The ecological crisis can no longer be dissociated from the social crisis at political level action. This should lead to the design of a new production and consumption model. We should view this transformation not as a burden but as a challenge to create a new wave of technological and social innovation that will be the best guarantee of sustainable jobs, competitive advantage and social well-being in the future. We urge that this objective should be placed at the centre of the new 2020 strategy for the European Union that should integrate the principal objectives of the existing strategies for sustainable development, for sustainable growth and for climate and energy.

5.   Other developing countries and particularly the least developed countries are being put in a critical position by the evolution of climate change. While having done the least to cause climate change the poorest developing countries are in many cases among the most severely affected. To achieve success in Copenhagen the developed world needs to come forward with firm pledges of substantial new and additional sources of funding to assist the developing countries with their major problems of adaptation and to help them take their own mitigation measures in due course.

The European Commission has recently tabled significant proposals about the levels of support that Europe should provide to this partnership and how it should be administered. The Committee urges the Union to proceed rapidly to the point at which these proposals can be tabled as a firm offer in the negotiations, and can be used as a lever to stimulate comparable offers from other developed countries.

6.   The whole of civil society is affected by climate change. Business, trade unions, other civil society organisations will all need to be involved in all the efforts both to mitigate and to adapt to climate change. As representatives of organised civil society we know that there is a growing awareness throughout Europe of the scale of the challenge, and a growing willingness to face up to all the changes that will need to be made to our patterns of production and consumption and the way in which we live. We urge our leaders and negotiators to be resolute in guiding us forward on this path. There must be no turning back.’

Brussels, 5 November 2009.

The president of the European Economic and Social Committee

Mario SEPI