Sibiu Summit could have been the green turning point for the EU. It wasn’t.
As the Summit wrapped up, Ester Asin, Director of the WWF European Policy Office, reacted: "The climate and biodiversity emergency is real. Science tells us that the window for action is closing rapidly, youth are protesting to save their future. But our leaders continue to pay lip service only, rather than turning their stated ambitions into concrete action with clear targets. Europe can and must halt and reverse the loss of nature by 2030, and achieve climate neutrality by 2040. Only then can we ensure a sustainable, safe and prosperous future for our citizens.”
Ahead of today’s European Summit in Sibiu (Romania), Donald Tusk had issued proposals for the EU to work towards climate neutrality, fight the loss of biodiversity, promote sustainable agriculture and accelerate the green transition, and eight EU countries - led by France - had supported the call for climate neutrality by 2050, and more investment in the just and sustainable transition. The urgency of these measures has been emphasised by the world’s leading scientists stark warnings about the climate and biodiversity emergency humanity is facing.
In spite of this urgency, EU leaders failed to deliver agreed outcomes on climate action and nature protection, mostly due to a lack of support by a handful of countries, including Germany, which continues to oppose ambitious climate action.
The disappointing outcome comes on the day on which WWF and Global Footprint Network published a report highlighting that Europeans are living well beyond nature's means, and that the world would need 2.8 planets if everyone lived like EU residents. Tomorrow, 10 May, is EU Overshoot Day, the date by which, if everyone had the same Ecological Footprint as Europeans, humanity would have used as much from nature than our planet can renew in a whole year.
The upcoming European elections will be a further opportunity to address the mismatch between lofty promises and concrete action, as will another decisive European Council meeting on 20-21 June, which will see the adoption of the Strategic Agenda 2019-2024.