European parliament declares 'climate and environmental emergency'

European parliament declares 'climate and environmental emergency'
© Getty Images

The European parliament declared a “climate and environmental emergency” around the world on Thursday in an effort to encourage all European Union countries to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The 429 to 225 vote to approve the declaration came a few days before a United Nations climate conference in Madrid, The Guardian reported. The vote had 19 abstentions, and some members cautioned against making symbolic gestures. 

The members also supported increasing the target for greenhouse gas emissions to 55 percent by 2030 from 40 percent and a resolution stating the EU's current climate targets were “not in line” with the 2015 Paris climate agreement.


Some environmentalists and green politicians said the declaration and increase were not enough.

“Our house is on fire. The European parliament has seen the blaze, but it’s not enough to stand by and watch,” Greenpeace EU climate policy adviser Sebastian Mang said before the vote, according to The Guardian.

Some members were reportedly skittish about using the language “emergency” because the German word for emergency is associated with Nazi-era law.

Other members said the anxiety over the language was a “fake debate.”

“There is an urgency to act, but no state of emergency to declare. Emergency can also be interpreted as undermining fundamental rights, like freedom of press and democracy,” said Pete Liese, the European People’s Party environmental spokesman, according to The Guardian. 

The Brexit party reportedly voted against the declaration.

Earlier this week,m the incoming president of the European commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said the EU would lead the fight against “the existential threat” of climate change.