Europe at the forefront of the climate challenge
The European Union is a global leader in the transition to a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions economy. Playing a crucial role in international political efforts to tackle the climate challenge, Europe is one of the main players moving with urgency towards the Paris Agreement objectives. European targets for renewable energy, the electrification of cars and the phasing out of coal promise CO2 reductions of more than 40% by 2030. While ambitious, these goals represent the minimum level of change needed to avoid catastrophic climate change. A wave of mass mobilisation, from climate marches to school strikes, is pressuring politicians to go further and faster. As a free-market democracy and the world’s largest single market, Europe is a key laboratory for innovative business and progressive social reform. It promises to bring groundbreaking change to globalised industries, from shipping to finance to aviation. Europe also has the power to demonstrate to the world that tackling climate change can go hand in hand with economic growth, social justice and a better quality of life for all.
Yet Europe’s role as a global leader on climate change should not be taken for granted. It requires constant defending. The budgets of those with business interest in maintaining the status quo far outweigh the financial resources of those of civil society battling to protect the planet for future generations. Philanthropy has an important role to play in redressing that power balance, ensuring that public debates are free from bias, misinformation and abuse. Concerted action involving the widest possible range of actors is crucial to allow Europe to retain its leadership role.
Europe's place in the world
Europe can also make a difference on the world stage, by demonstrating that tackling climate change can go hand in hand with strengthening employment, growth and quality of life. And by ensuring the issue remains front and centre of international politics, emphasising the urgency of the objectives of the Paris Agreement. There are also many industries that are fully globalised, from shipping to finance to aviation, and there Europe’s resolve can make a difference. Just as Europe can serve as a driver and innovator for climate action, it can also learn from other regions that are tackling the same problems, ranging from California’s rapid electrification of mobility to Costa Rica’s huge achievements in the domain of renewable electricity. This is how we will win the battle against climate change – by working together with, and learning from, each other.