Europe needs to step up climate action as scientists deliver unequivocal evidence for the need to stay below 1.5°C

Climate action

One day ahead of the EU Environment Ministers meeting expected to adopt the EU’s position for the upcoming UN Climate Summit COP24, the world’s leading body of climate scientists gave strong scientific evidence for the need to keep temperature rise to 1.5°C. The new IPCC report, ordered and endorsed by all world’s governments, showed that many of the dire consequences of future warming can be avoided by respecting this limit. It also confirmed that it is still possible, but requires a rapid and far-reaching shift across all sectors of the economy.

Audio recording of the press briefing on the IPCC report with Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, Sandrine Dixson-Declève, Wendel Trio and Claire Roumet organized by CAN Europe on 8th October 2018 is available here

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report released today offers the most comprehensive and authoritative assessment of the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and the action needed to stay below this threshold. It proves beyond doubt that staying below 1.5°C will significantly reduce the damage from climate change for the poorest and most vulnerable countries, but also for all Europeans.

Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe said: “Science has given us a message of both urgency and hope. It has made it crystal clear that warming of more than 1.5°C would result in ever wilder extreme weather events. These in turn would expose us to greater drought, food shortages and economic devastation. The silver lining to the report is that we still have a chance to stay below 1.5°C, that solutions are within our reach and that it will help us build a safer, more prosperous Europe.”

Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, former IPCC Vice-Chair, professor of climate sciences at UCLouvain, Belgium said: “Climate change is threatening all forms of life on this planet. This report says the crash is avoidable, and that reducing CO2 emissions to zero is an urgent necessity. And it’s doable. We owe that to our kids, and to all young people who would have to live on a too hot planet otherwise.”

The new IPCC report clearly states that if we are to stay below 1.5°C, we need an unprecedented shift, including accelerating the transition towards a 100% renewable energy system and the replacement of all dirty energy. The IPCC report also proves that through this transformation we can create a safer and more prosperous future.

Wendel Trio added: “The IPCC scientists are sending this message ahead of the all-important COP24 summit in Katowice this year, where governments are expected to commit to step up their climate targets. All eyes are on EU environment ministers now, who need to act on the IPCC warnings and commit to significantly increase the EU’s 2030 target well beyond 45%, to be in line with the IPCC’s recommendations on 1.5°C pathways. Staying below 1.5°C means Europe needs to drastically reduce emissions to reach net-zero by 2040 and this needs to be reflected in the new long-term climate strategy.”

Sandrine Dixson-Declève, Member of The Club of Rome and Special Advisor to Business and Governments said: “The new IPCC report clearly states that if we are to stay below 1.5°C, we need an unprecedented acceleration towards a low carbon economy. A transformational versus incremental change is necessary. The IPCC report repeats what many other reports have indicated: we have the technological solutions and we have the money to get this done. What we now need is the political will and the regulatory conditions for all industrial and financial actors to contribute so the necessary trillions can flow.  At the Club of Rome we are drafting a Climate Emergency Plan in direct response to the IPCC report and UN Secretary General Guterres’ recent call for urgency. We will call upon all government and business leaders to show they are stepping up their ambition. For governments this should include commitments for faster reductions in carbon emissions and clear policies to help businesses innovate. For business this means a faster shift from fossil energy and new business models that fully embrace decarbonization. I have faith that if we take on this challenge together, we will create the basis for a societal renaissance of unprecedented  proportions.”

Prof. Dr. Eckart Würzner, Mayor of Heidelberg, Germany said: “Many cities and regions in Europe have prepared and are in the process of delivering their 2050 climate and energy strategies. Their responses are based on the latest scientific thinking. In light of the latest news of the IPCC 1.5 Degree report, rapid change and widespread societal transformation are needed. The climate and energy policies shift is not an adjustment variable for the European Union project but on the contrary, it is the next step of its development. The transformation is a driving force that brings benefits across all sectors and for all levels of society through the creation of sustainable jobs and investment opportunities, the improvement of health and the quality of life and by addressing social inequalities. It is also an absolute need to prevent geopolitical threats and ensure global stability.”



Ania Drazkiewicz, CAN Europe Head of Communications,, +32 494 525 738


Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe is Europe’s leading NGO coalition fighting dangerous climate change. With over 150 member organisations from 35 European countries, representing over 1.700 NGOs and more than 40 million citizens, CAN Europe promotes sustainable climate, energy and development policies throughout Europe.

[1] More information on the IPCC Special Report:

[2] CAN Europe position on Europe’s long term targets:

[3] Statement of the Coalition for Higher Ambition ahead of the ENVI Council on 9th October

[4] Infographic: Costs of inaction on climate change in Europe

[5] Quotes from CAN Europe members and partners on the IPCC report:

Quotes from CAN Europe members and partners on the IPCC report:

Vlad Petru, the Romanian plaintiff of the People’s Climate Case said: “I didn’t know much about climate change until the Carpathian summers turned into dry Spanish summers and I couldn’t find any water for my herd. This made me understand what climate change means. Today, I learnt from this report that my children can still have a future on our land, if the decision makers take action now.”

Eamon O’Hara, Executive Director of ECOLISE, the European network for community-led initiatives on climate change and sustainability said: “The report’s clear message of urgency and hope will only serve to encourage the thousands of communities across Europe and beyond that are already creatively transforming their way of life and challenging an economic model that is inherently unjust and unsustainable. Technology alone won’t help us get to 1.5°C so the task now is to bring the message that communities, in collaboration with municipalities and others, play a vital role in the transformation to social justice, well-being and a zero-carbon society.”

Farhana Yamin, CEO of Track 0 said: “The IPCC Report underlines the need for all governments to step up the climate ambition of existing targets so they align with the Paris Agreement and support the achievement of the SDGs. Every country must put a date on phasing out fossil fuel emissions and subsidies so that we can achieve net zero emissions not later than 2050.”

Anne Stauffer, Director for Strategy and Campaigns at the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) said: “Climate action is all about opportunities for health: decarbonising our lives is entirely possible and will make this world a healthier, more prosperous and sustainable place. Ensuring a limit of 1.5 degree Celsius instead of 2 would mean less health-threatening extreme weather events, chronically ill people, less hospital admissions, less deaths and less financial burden on our societies.”

Dr Kat Kramer, Christian Aid’s Global Lead – Climate Change said: “The IPCC report clearly demonstrates that we can still limit temperature increases to 1.5°C and thereby avoid entering a climate era unprecedented in human experience. To do so, we must act with urgency to bring about deep emissions cuts. Governments at this December’s UN climate negotiations must sign up to increasing their climate ambition by 2020: to not do so would be a dereliction of duty towards all humanity, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, and to all life on earth. Not every pathway to achieve the goal is sustainable, however: governments must also choose to avoid false solutions, like geoengineering, to the climate threat and instead promote approaches that safeguard and promote a better quality of life for all.”

Mattias Söderberg, Senior Advocacy Advisor at DanChurchAid (Denmark) said: “The reports highlights the urgent need for support to poor and vulnerable countries. The EU and its member states must live up to the promises about climate finance, and especially scale up the support to adaptation, which until now has not been prioritised. There is no time to waste!”  

Giulia Bondi, Climate Justice and Energy Officer at CIDSE said: “Limiting global warming to 1.5°C requires a radical change that we must undertake soon. We must completely shift to renewable energies following the principles of equity and sufficiency. The food sector needs to move towards agroecology and guarantee the right to food for all. The whole economy should embrace a post-growth model and Europe should lead the way in this, if wanting to prove climate leadership in meeting its international commitments.”

Sofia Kabbej, Advocacy director for CliMates said: “The new IPCC report reaffirms the need to step-up climate action if we are to cap the global temperature rise under 1.5°C. The consequences of a 1.5°C warming would still be significant and will impact millions of lives. The successful fulfilment of this commitment relies on us, as a collective, to take the appropriate decisions and translate those into action as soon as we can. Let’s also not forget that effective climate action brings about positive spillovers to efforts aiming to reduce inequalities worldwide. Youth will be bearing most of the consequences of inaction. Now is the time to act!”

Caroline Kende-Robb, Secretary General, CARE International: “The IPCC report makes it clear: the world must come together now to take serious action to stop global warming. Developing countries are already disproportionately affected by climate change – it deprives the most vulnerable groups, particularly women and girls, from basic universal rights. CARE calls on governments, in particular, from developed countries and emerging economies, to accelerate climate action to reduce emissions now, not in 10 years. Ignoring the necessities for action that the IPCC report spells out is unacceptable.”

Zsolt Bauer, Branch Manager, Climate Reality Europe said: “The key findings of the IPCC report, namely that the 1.5°C target is difficult, but it’s still possible can be only turned into real action if we can put a pressure on decision-makers. We call all partners to unite efforts to bring the message close to citizens and empower them to shape public opinion and policy and drive a planet-wide shift to clean energy. We must, we can and we will solve the climate crisis.” Programme Director Payal Parekh said: “The science in the IPCC report on 1.5°C speaks for itself. Staying under 1.5°C is now a matter of political will. Burying our heads in the sand cannot be contemplated as an option any longer. The climate crisis is here and already impacting the most vulnerable and the least responsible for creating it. The only way to achieve it is to stop all fossil fuel extraction and redirect the massive resources currently spent on the fossil fuel economy towards the renewable energy transition.”

Tim Ratcliffe, Keep it in the ground coordinator for Europe said: “The science clearly tells us that fossil fuels need to stay in the ground to limit global temperature rise to 1.5C as a matter of human survival. The 1.5°C target means that Germany must immediately freeze any planned coal expansion and the European Commission-driven dash for gas must be scrapped.”

Professor Zbigniew Karaczun, expert of the Polish Climate Coalition said: “The most important conclusion from the report is that it is still possible to limit the rise of global temperature below 1.5°C. Also the good news is that there are no technological obstacles for a just transition shift of the economy to a zero carbon one. Thus, climate mitigation should be seen as a chance for developing innovative, environment friendly technologies and a chance to save our civilisation from a climate disaster.”

Kelsey Perlman, Forest Climate Campaigner at Fern said: “In light of the IPCC 1.5 report, the EU and Member States now have two tasks: increase 2030 carbon-cutting ambition, and massively increase EU ecosystems restoration to ensure that the carbon removal needed to limit global temperature rise benefits Europeans’ well being, health and enjoyment, and help the countless species on the edge of extinction, at a lower cost to the economy.”

Anna Kárníková, Director of Centre for Transport and Energy, the Czech Republic said: “An adequate reaction to the Special Report’s outcomes should be to increase European and Czech ambitions for reducing emissions. The Report confirms that this is the right approach for limiting the damages done to human lives, natural environment and the economy.  The Report also shows that a change in crucial sectors, such as energy, is already under way and therefore 1,5°C is not an unrealistic target.”

Neil Makaroff, EU policy Officer for Réseau Action Climat France said: “The IPCC report highlights that the status quo is not an option if we want to avoid the dramatic consequences of climate changes on our lives. Europe and France have a special responsibility, not only in calling for more ambition, but also in urgently translating it in policies and measure. It is unacceptable that France’s emissions are still increasing whereas we have all the solutions in our hands. It is time for President Macron to walk the talk domestically and to invest in climate action!”


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