This coming Saturday marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of the European Union, and environmentalists said they find it unfortunate that a preliminary document for the Rome declaration does not contain any references to climate change.
The treaty of Rome, signed 25 March, 1957, founded the European Coal and Steel Community— the precursor to the EU we know today.
To celebrate the anniversary, European leaders will gather in Rome and the ancient city will host citizen-led debates, protests and exhibitions— all aiming to chart a different course for the EU.
Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe has urged these European leaders to make climate action a stringent focus in this next phase of the EU’s reign, despite climate change lacking from the document.
“The Rome ceremony is a momentous opportunity to reconnect the EU with the needs of its people who demand decisive action against climate change. Citizens expect EU leaders to put a stronger emphasis on tackling climate change,” Wendel Trio, director of CAN Europe, said.
“[The] EU’s current response to many global challenges is woefully inadequate. The future of Europe and our planet is at stake and the Rome celebrations can’t just be a photo op. They must signal a change of direction,” Greenpeace EU deputy director Saskia Richartz added.
But— recent successes of the EU’s climate strategy, particularly the adoption of the Paris Agreement, which is a global effort aimed at capping global warming at 2°C, prove that Europe can be a global leader on climate change, CAN Europe said.
Trio said that he doesn’t want climate change to just appear in the future Europe declaration, he also wishes European leaders would recognise the challenge and live up to the commitments they made in the Paris Agreement.
“The full transition away from fossil fuels offers a fair and steadfast way towards a more sustainable and prosperous future for everyone in Europe,” Trio remarked.
CAN Europe called for the full implementation of the Paris Agreement by enhancing energy efficiency and accelerating the transition to clean energy in order to pursue efforts to limit global warming to 1.5°C.
“It has to be part of the EU’s effort to respect the planet’s boundaries – a core European value. Adequate response to one of the most pressing challenges of our times, the threat of climate change, can help the EU boost citizens’ confidence in the European project,” Trio concluded.
Greenpeace said it will join people from all over in Rome on Saturday for a march in support of “united, sustainable and democratic Europe.”
A gigantic banner placed by Greenpeace activists will hang on the Pincio Terrace, reading: “After 60 years: a better Europe to save the climate.”