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Europe, the world and the climate crisis: an endless battle?

To all those who have heard the phrase “There is no planet B” before: raise your hand. It is widely known that when it comes to the climate crisis there is no plan B, because if today’s society decides not to address the problem of climate change appropriately, humanity will definitely not have a second planet on which to find refuge when the Earth become truly uninhabitable.

This was the topic covered in the fourth webinar of the cycle Visioni d’Europa – a project organized by the Fondazione Trentina Alcide De Gasperi in order to highlight the most important issues pertaining to the political agenda of the European Union – titled “Europe for future: diving into the environmental challenge” with Roberto Barbiero, physicist, climatologist and science communicator of the Provincia Autonoma di Trento, Federica Dossi and Emiliano Campisi, both reporters at COP27 in Egypt.

The meeting was held in English. In order to explain this choice, participants of the project Visioni d’Europa opted to break the ice, arguing that given the significance of the climate change issue, the English language is a fundamental means of emphasizing how it is globally relevant.

Then, the climatologist Roberto Barbiero took the floor, expressing everything related to climate change in terms of scientific data. So, what does climate science tell us? The climate is changing dramatically and faster than expected: Earth’s temperature is rapidly exceeding the acceptable threshold to avoid irreparable damage to Planet’s physical processes, including sea level rise and melting of continental glaciers. Furthermore, extreme weather phenomena such as heat waves, torrential rains and droughts are occurring more frequently and increasing in severity. Some relevant data tell us that 2022 has been the driest year since 1800, as well as the second warmest year ever recorded in Europe. The problem is therefore critical, urgent and impending, and the influence of human activities in global warming is unequivocal. Climate action, according to the climatologist, goes in two directions: we must aggressively reduce CO2 emissions and manage the risks of climate change impacts.

But let’s move on to the European Union: what role does Europe have in tackling this problem? Is Europe doing enough? Federica Dossi’s intervention, which outlined the EU’s legislative framework, provides answers to all of these questions. Actually, the EU’s objective is achieving climate neutrality rather than achieving zero emissions. In this regard, the EU implemented the European Green Deal, the framework of actions to be taken along with member states to reduce emissions and to compensate for the remaining ones. The European Climate Law, containing the objectives of the aforementioned Green Deal, is another measure that has been adopted. The main goal is to make climate neutrality legally binding by the year 2050. However, while Europe is making significant efforts to address the issue, sadly, this is insufficient. The actions being taken are far too slow and the EU would have to act much faster to possibly reverse the current ongoing climate change.

Finally, it was the turn of Emiliano Campisi, who described the key theme of the COP27: “Loss and Damage”. With this term, one refers to the damages and negative outcomes caused by extreme climatic events in the affected countries. Although some nations in the world scarcely produce greenhouse gasses, they are the hardest hit by catastrophic climate disasters such as floods. Developing island nations in the Pacific are an example. Some others, however, are unable to adjust to the crisis, despite the fact that it also affects them. The African continent, for example, contributes least to climate change but it is the most vulnerable to its impacts. To face this problem the Loss and Damage fund was introduced: an international fund that will be used to make up for the environmental damage caused to these nations, using the financial resources of the nations that produce the most CO2 emissions. Another project discussed was Just Transition: a series of policies that aim to take into account the interests of developing countries, helping them in the transition to renewable energy.

In conclusion, do we have a chance to solve the climate crisis? Put simply: can we do it? The prospects are certainly pessimistic, but the key to resolving this catastrophe is to act now and, of course, to maintain a positive approach. The crucial task for Europe is to take the lead in the fight against climate change and support the rest of the world’s transition towards a positive transformation.

The next webinar of Visioni d’Europa – scheduled for Thursday, March 2nd at 17:00 – will star political scientist Francesco Strazzari and feature the theme “War and Peace”.

Martina Giannini

Studentessa partecipante al percorso di alternanza scuola lavoro nell’ambito del progetto “Visioni d’Europa”

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lunedì 4 Marzo 2024