Greening Europe is good, but it is not enough; we need to engage firmly with the world’s largest polluters to drive a concerted global effort to stop and reverse climate change.
The European Union (EU) is one of the world’s leading economies and a major contributor to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, making it a key player in the fight against climate change. The urgency of the situation cannot be overstated. Global temperatures keep increasing with new heat records almost every summer. But climate change isn’t only about rising temperatures, but also about a more unpredictable climate. Heavy rainfall, severe droughts, forest fires, overwhelming floods, and more, are all going to become more intense and more regular due to climate change.
To avert this disaster, global GHG emissions must be cut by at least 45% from 2010 levels by 2030. To do its part, the EU has set ambitious targets for reducing its own emissions, including a 40% reduction from 1990 levels by 2030 and a commitment to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
However, while these efforts are commendable, they are not enough to meet the challenge of climate change. Europe’s emissions account for less than 10% of the world’s total, so even if the EU achieves its ambitious targets, global emissions will continue to rise. But this is not the only crisis we face today.
In an era marked by the looming specter of climate change and rampant environmental degradation, Forward Europe stands resolute in its commitment to safeguarding our planet for future generations. The challenges we face are multifaceted. As previously explained, today’s challenges start at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but they don’t stop there. It goes far beyond reducing our emissions to addressing water scarcity, pollution, and the peril of plastic waste. Striking a just and harmonious balance between preserving our natural spaces and meeting the needs of urban development and agriculture is crucial.
We are poised to tackle these pressing issues head-on. In this article, we present our comprehensive Environmental Policy, outlining our strategies to combat climate change, manage water resources, and confront pollution, all under the overarching banner of a united Europe with a shared vision for a sustainable future.
Leading the Charge on Climate Action
The EU is one of the main emitters of greenhouse gas emissions in the world. However, we “only” emit 9% of the world’s greenhouse gases. Therefore, Forward Europe is dedicated to leveraging diplomatic, trade, and technological measures to engage with the world’s largest polluters and drive global climate action.
We will do this by using trade policy to incentivize climate action. Europe should use its considerable economic clout to incentivize climate action from large emitters. This could include linking trade agreements to environmental standards and providing preferential access to markets for countries that commit to reducing their emissions.
Additionally, we will provide technical, scientific and financial assistance. Europe could use its scientific and technological expertise to provide support to countries in their efforts to reduce their emissions, while helping finance (or partly finance) their projects through loans so that they will reach their goals as soon as possible. Because climate change is a global problem, which requires global solutions and global cooperation.
A Secure Water Future
Forward Europe recognizes the critical importance of water management in the face of increasing challenges like droughts and floods. Our vision includes a comprehensive strategy to ensure a stable water supply, even during the most arid conditions. Through investments in desalination technologies, efficient water storage and distribution systems, and sustainable agricultural practices, we aim to manage Europe’s water resources effectively. By adopting an integrated approach at the European level, we can guarantee access to clean and abundant water while protecting our ecosystems.
Confronting Pollution: A Cleaner Tomorrow
Pollution, in all its insidious forms, poses a dire threat to our environment and public health. Forward Europe is resolutely committed to combating air, water, land, river, and lake pollution, all while ensuring the coexistence of thriving urban areas and untouched natural spaces.
We will enact stringent regulations to curtail chemical and (micro)plastic pollution, bolstered by substantial investments in sewage treatment infrastructure. Our broad approach encompasses support for recycling initiatives, the reduction of single-use plastics, and the enforcement of stringent measures to control industrial emissions. We also want to help companies which must pollute less to become more sustainable without the loss of jobs and/or productivity. By addressing pollution from every angle and fostering a balanced ecosystem, we aim to create a cleaner, healthier Europe for all our citizens.
As well as initiating regulation for less pollution, we aim to make the world a bit cleaner, especially regarding plastic pollution in the ocean. We want to subsidize companies/start-ups which want to clean the environment. It’s great to stop new pollution from entering our natural spaces, but cleaning already polluted environments is just as important. Our goal is to make Europe completely pollution-free in the coming years.
Restoration of Europe’s Natural Spaces
At Forward Europe, we are deeply committed to safeguarding Europe’s precious natural spaces, recognizing their immense ecological value and their crucial role in our fight against climate change. Our approach is twofold: first, we aim to strike a harmonious balance between the preservation of these vital ecosystems and the legitimate needs of urban development and agriculture. We want to achieve this balance by looking at which areas are the most vulnerable, and which areas need to be restored that would benefit our ecosystems the most, while looking for the best solution together with the local communities.
Second, we recognize the urgency of restoring certain natural spaces, particularly wetlands and peatlands, which have suffered from extensive drainage over the past decades. These areas are not only carbon sinks, absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but they also function as natural sponges during floods, providing essential flood mitigation. Moreover, they serve as thriving habitats for diverse wildlife and insects, contributing to the overall biodiversity of our continent. We are resolute in our commitment to restoring select wetlands and peatlands to enhance our collective climate resilience and protect our invaluable natural heritage. By doing so, we aim to create a more sustainable and balanced future for Europe, where nature and human development coexist in harmony.
Even though we aim to reduce the effects of climate change as much as possible, at the same time we need to learn to live with the new climate reality. Even if we were to cut all global GHG emissions tomorrow, climate change won’t stop due to the already high CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. Solutions such as carbon capture aren’t efficient enough (yet) to reverse the effects of climate change. That’s why we shouldn’t only try to limit the harmful consequences of climate change, but also to adapt society to a changing climate.
We understand the urgent need not only to mitigate the ongoing climate crisis but also to adapt to the ever-changing climate conditions that are already affecting our continent. This includes investing in resilient infrastructure to withstand more frequent and severe floods, droughts, and forest fires. We emphasize the importance of promoting sustainable agricultural practices that can thrive in higher temperatures and adapt to changing precipitation patterns. Additionally, we support the development of early warning systems for extreme weather events, such as heatwaves and heavy rainfall, to protect our citizens. It is our firm belief that Europe must be prepared to face the challenges of a changing climate head-on, not only by reducing our carbon footprint but also by proactively adapting to the new realities of our environment.
A United Europe for a Sustainable Future: Our Collective Vision
In conclusion, Forward Europe’s Environmental Policy stands as a testament to our unwavering commitment to address the most pressing challenges of our time. By uniting under a common vision, Europe can lead the way in confronting climate change, managing water resources, and confronting pollution while achieving a harmonious balance between nature preservation and human development.
We understand that these issues are interconnected and require a comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach. The time to act is now, and we invite you to join us in building a sustainable future for Europe and the world. Together, we can protect our planet and ensure a prosperous tomorrow for generations to come, fortified by a vision of a Europe that leads by example in environmental stewardship.