OPINION: Two Degrees Short of Eschaton

Siim Kiisler, the Minister of Environment of Estonia, Laurence Tubiana, the CEO of the European Climate Foundation, Miguel Arias Cañete, the EU Commissioner for Climate, Action, and Energy, and Chad Holliday, the Chairman of Royal Dutch Shell spoke at a gathering on Climate Change in 2017. (flickr)

Siim Kiisler, the Minister of Environment of Estonia, Laurence Tubiana, the CEO of the European Climate Foundation, Miguel Arias Cañete, the EU Commissioner for Climate, Action, and Energy, and Chad Holliday, the Chairman of Royal Dutch Shell spoke at a gathering on Climate Change in 2017. (flickr)

Scientists tell us that we must keep global temperature growth below two degrees Celsius to prevent the worst of climate change, according to Bloomberg. As it stands, scientists expect temperatures to rise by three to five degrees Celsius by 2100, Reuters reports. Even the most generous estimates predict a minimum well above two degrees of warming.

The world needs definitive action. The EU has offered to rise to the challenge. On November 28, the EU announced a new environmental policy aimed at achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, Bloomberg reports. If successful, the EU will cut ten percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and secure its position as a global leader in environmental policy.

Yet, the benefits of such policy extend to economics and geopolitics as well. By increasing renewable energies, the EU can become a massive green-technology producer and grow its economy by two percent of GDP by 2050, according to Politico. Cutting imports of natural gas and oil also frees the EU from geopolitical constraints with the U.S. and Russia, while saving the EU from $2.262 to 3.393 trillion, the National reports.

This initiative might be exactly what the world needs: bold action and strong leadership to mitigate disastrous climate change. By setting this course, the EU can provide a clear example to nations around the world highlighting that not only must we pursue environmentally friendly policies for the sake of our children but that such policies are politically and economically beneficial.

Riots in France over gas tax hikes demonstrate the political risk to politicians that plan to pursue more stringent environmental policies. As EU Commissioner for Energy and Climate Action Miguel Arias Canete put it to Bloomberg, “If we do not lead, nobody else will.”