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Greta Thunberg and some of the world's leading climate scientists have written to EU leaders demanding that they act immediately to avoid the worst impacts of the developing climate and ecological emergency.
The letter, which is sent ahead of a European Council meeting starting Friday, says that the Covid-19 pandemic has shown that most leaders can act quickly and decisively, but that politicians' response to the climate crisis had disappeared just as urgently.
“It is now clearer than ever that the climate crisis has never been treated as a crisis, not by politicians, the media, business or finance. And the longer we continue to pretend that we are on a reliable path to reducing emissions and that the actions necessary to prevent a climate disaster are available within the current system… the more precious time we will lose, ”he says.
The EU presented its new proposal for a green deal this year, aiming to transform the bloc from a high economy to a low carbon one without reducing prosperity and at the same time improving people's quality of life, through an air and cleaner water, better health and a prosperous natural world.
But the scientists and other authors of the letter dismiss its goal of net zero emissions by 2050 as dangerously unambitious. "By 2050, net zero emissions for the EU, as well as for other economically fortunate parts of the world, is equivalent to giving up," they say.
They add that the target is based on a carbon budget that offers only a 50% chance of limiting global heating to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, the figure set out in the 2015 Paris agreement.
That's just a statistical toss of a coin, which doesn't even include some of the key factors, such as the global aspect of equity, most of the tipping points and feedback loops, as well as the additional warming hidden by the toxic air pollution. So actually, it's a lot less than 50% chance. "
The letter also argues that the climate and ecological emergency can only be addressed by addressing the "injustices and social and racial oppression that have laid the foundations of our modern world."
It says that the EU, with its political and economic influence, has a moral obligation to lead the fight to create a just and more sustainable world.
“We understand and know very well that the world is complicated and that what we are asking for may not be easy. The changes needed to safeguard humanity may seem unrealistic. But it is much less realistic to believe that our society could survive the global warming we are heading for, as well as other disastrous ecological consequences of today's business. "
Thunberg and the other signatories, including scientists Michael Mann and Johan Rockström, call on EU leaders to immediately halt all investments in exploration and extraction of fossil fuels and end subsidies. They say the EU should advocate making ecocide an international crime and setting binding annual carbon budgets.