Find out how the EU fights climate change. The Earth is sick and the clock is ticking. The EU works on all fronts to repair the damages and preserve the environment: air quality, waste management, protection of biodiversity... Much still needs to be done, and the EU is leading the way.
The Earth is in crisis. The frequency of natural disasters has increased.
Greta Thunberg, Swedish environmental activist: Our house is falling apart. The future - as well as all that we have achieved in the past - is literally in your hands now. But it is not too late to act.
Our home is getting hotter because greenhouse gases are trapping heat in our atmosphere. Scientists say if global temperatures rise by more than 2°C we will face food and water shortages, extreme weather and an almost 50cm rise in ocean levels by 2050. We could also lose up to 11.5% of the species on earth.
So far the EU has cut its greenhouse gas emissions to 22% below 1990 levels and is committed to reducing them at least 40% by 2030.
It isn’t just carbon we’re pumping into the skies. Air pollution gases like NOx from cars kill up to 400 000 people in the EU each year.
To tackle transport pollution, new EU rules have improved fuel quality and promoted cleaner engines. Modern cars and vans are more thoroughly tested for harmful pollutants.
If EU air quality is improved it could prevent thousands of premature deaths every year from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.
Meanwhile on the ground, 2.5 billion tonnes of waste is generated in the EU each year. Much of that ends up in the oceans.
70% of that marine litter is single-use plastics like carrier bags. Every year, we use 100 billion plastic bags. Each is used for 20 minutes on average, but takes 400 years to degrade. The EU is aiming to halve the amount of plastic bags.
By 2021, single use plastic like plates, cutlery, straws and cotton buds will vanish from shops in Europe.
The world is also facing threats to biodiversity.
Leonardo DiCaprio, American actor and environmentalist: ‘Marine scientist Jeremy Jackson led me under water in a submersible to observe the reefs off the coast of the Bahamas, and what I saw took my breath away: Not a fish in sight, covered with colourless ghost-like coral, a complete graveyard.
Turtles are vital to the health of our seas. They help maintain healthy sea grass beds and transport essential nutrients to the shore. Every year, 132 000 are caught in Mediterranean fishing nets.
EU funds are helping countries protect these creatures from fishing and pollution. Meanwhile, Europe’s unique natural habitats are also being preserved. 1 500 animal and plant species are protected by the EU.
Among them, the bees, whose populations are threatened and whose disappearance could have dramatic consequences: 76% of food production in Europe relies on insect pollination! The European Parliament has called for a ban on bee-killing pesticides.
All of this environmental protection will be part of the European Green deal – the main aim of which is fighting climate change, our most pressing problem.
David Sassoli, President of the European Parliament "Climate change exposes us to enormous risks now evident to all. We need investments for clean technologies to respond to the millions of young people who took to the streets, and some who also came to this House, to remind us that there is no other planet."
20% of the EU’s budget is used to fight climate change. The European Parliament hopes to increase it to 30%. Much more needs to be done to protect our planet. The EU is leading the way in taking action.