European Union declares a climate emergency

On Thursday 28 November 2019, the European Parliament declared a climate emergency, 429 votes in favour to 225. That vote covers a population of 500 million people.

“We are today meeting the expectations of European citizens,” said Pascal Canfin, a French lawmaker who is chairman of the European Parliament’s environment committee. Canfin initiated the Parliament resolution on behalf of the centrist Renew Europe political group.

“Europe is the first continent to declare climate and environmental emergency. And it’s a very strong message, first to European citizens and to the rest of the world, just before COP25, and three weeks after Donald Trump confirmed the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris Agreement,” said Canfin.

European Parliament resolution of 28 November 2019

on the

climate and environment emergency


The European Parliament,

– having regard to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol thereto,

– having regard to the Agreement adopted at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP21) in Paris on 12 December 2015 (the Paris Agreement),

– having regard to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD),

– having regard to the latest and most comprehensive scientific evidence on the damaging effects of climate change provided in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) special report entitled ‘Global Warming of 1,5°C’, its fifth assessment report (AR5) and its synthesis report thereon, its special report on climate change and land, and its special report on the ocean and cryosphere in a changing climate,

– having regard to the massive threat of loss of biodiversity described in the summary for policymakers of the global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, of 29 May 2019,

– having regard to the 25th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP25), to be held in Madrid, Spain, from 2–13 December 2019,

– having regard to the 26th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC to be held in December 2020 and the fact that all Parties to the UNFCCC need to increase their nationally determined contributions in line with the objectives of the Paris Agreement,

– having regard to the 15th Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) to be held in Kunming, China, in October 2020, where Parties need to decide on the post-2020 global framework to halt biodiversity loss,

– having regard to its resolution of 14 March 2019 on climate change – a European strategic long-term vision for a prosperous, modern, competitive and climate neutral economy in accordance with the Paris Agreement(1),

– having regard to its resolution of 28 November 2019 on the 2019 UN Climate Change Conference in Madrid, Spain (COP25)(2),

– having regard to Rule 132(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas immediate and ambitious action is crucial to limiting global warming to 1,5° C and avoiding massive biodiversity loss;

B. whereas this action must be science-based and must involve citizens and all sectors of society and the economy, including industry, in a socially balanced and sustainable way; whereas it must support the competitiveness of our economies and be accompanied by strong social and inclusive measures to ensure a fair and equitable transition that supports job creation, while respecting the need for a high standard of welfare and high quality jobs and training;

C. whereas no emergency should ever be used to erode democratic institutions or to undermine fundamental rights; whereas all measures will always be adopted through a democratic process;

1. Declares a climate and environment emergency; calls on the Commission, the Member States and all global actors, and declares its own commitment, to urgently take the concrete action needed in order to fight and contain this threat before it is too late;

2. Urges the new Commission to fully assess the climate and environmental impact of all relevant legislative and budgetary proposals, and ensure that they are all fully aligned with the objective of limiting global warming to under 1,5 °C, and that they are not contributing to biodiversity loss;

3. Recognises its institutional responsibility to reduce its carbon footprint; proposes to adopt its own measures to reduce emissions, including replacing its fleet vehicles with zero-emissions vehicles, and calls on all the Member States to agree to a single seat for the European Parliament;

4. Urges the new Commission to address the inconsistencies of current Union policies on the climate and environment emergency, in particular through a far-reaching reform of its agricultural, trade, transport, energy and infrastructure investment policies;

5. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States.

The official European Parliament motion links:

→ DW – 28 November 2019:
EU Parliament declares ‘climate emergency’
“EU lawmakers have said the declaration will increase pressure on the incoming European Commission to take a stronger stance on fighting climate change.”

→ The Guardian – 29 November 2019:
‘Our house is on fire’: EU parliament declares climate emergency
“Bloc warned against making symbolic gestures not backed up by concrete action.”

→ EurActiv – 29 November 2019:
European Parliament declares climate emergency
“The European Parliament voted by a large majority on Thursday (28 November) in favour of a resolution declaring climate emergency in Europe, piling pressure on the EU’s new Commission to deliver an ambitious European Green Deal after it takes office next month.”