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Nations Urged to Raise Emission Targets and Policies Ahead of COP24

Jan Lee headshotWords by Jan Lee
Leadership & Transparency
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The Trump administration may feel the Paris Accord is a waste of time, but according to a growing number of nations and companies across the globe, member states can do even better with their carbon emission targets. Far better.

A group of some 23 nations has just signed an agreement, Declaration for Ambition, to raise climate commitments and to increase efforts to get other nations to do the same. The move is in response to a call by seven EU states to cut emissions aggressively – by 40 percent of the 1990 levels by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050.The nations, which include members of every continent but Asia agreed that the increased effort was critical to minimizing global warming.

The EU, which comprises most of the member states of the Declaration for Ambition, has also raised its target of renewable energy to 32 percent from 27 percent, which critics said didn't go far enough.

The increased commitment comes as businesses and one indigenous community in Sweden step up their call for changes to how nation states are addressing climate change.

In the polar region of Lapland, Sweden, the historic community of Sami has launched a lawsuit against the European Union for failing to address climate change. The Sami, reportedly Europe's only indigenous people, rely on the arctic environment for their livelihood. Warming temperatures in Santa Claus' official homeland has made it increasingly difficult for the Sami to maintain their cultural way of life, which has historically relied on reindeer herding.

"If we lose the raindeers, the Sami culture will be lost," one indigenous member told The Guardian newspaper.

And they aren't the only people speaking out. The litigants have been joined by farmers in France, Portugal, Kenya, Germany and other countries who say that governments need to work more aggressively to reduce carbon emissions. The Sami have gone on record to oppose some of the methods that Sweden and adjacent Norway are using to create clean energy, which is to erect windmills on indigenous lands used for herding.

The plaintiffs aren't suing for money. They just want the EU to take a stronger stand on carbon emissions.

Businesses aligned with the We Mean Business movement have also been increasing their call for science-based emission targets. According to the nonprofit organization more than 420 companies have recently committed to science-based targets as a measure of support to COP24 progress. They include 11 new commitments from subsidiaries of the Mahindra Group in India. Christchurch Airport in New Zealand and the BSES Yamuna Power Plant in India have also announced steps to cut carbon emissions from their transportation fleet. But as the nonprofit Climate Action Network points out, meeting new targets won't be easy. It will still demand increased vigilance from nations around the world. "Countries now need to walk the talk," the organization wrote in its letter to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. "The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on 1.5 degrees C, due to be released in October, is likely to confirm that limiting warming to 1.5 degrees C is feasible, but [is] hard to achieve." Whether it is or not, the UN Climate Change Conference this December, which meets in Katowice, Poland and is likely to be a watershed moment for climate action. And organizations like We Mean Business and the backers of the upcoming Global Climate Summit in San Francisco have noted, it's the businesses and communities that stand to lose the most from global warming, and seem to have an eye squarely on what it will really take to slow climate change.   Flickr image: Mats Andersson
Jan Lee headshotJan Lee

Jan Lee is a former news editor and award-winning editorial writer whose non-fiction and fiction have been published in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the U.K. and Australia. Her articles and posts can be found on TriplePundit, JustMeans, and her blog, The Multicultural Jew, as well as other publications. She currently splits her residence between the city of Vancouver, British Columbia and the rural farmlands of Idaho.

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