The Elders Call for European Leadership on Climate Change

theelders17 March 2014: Ahead of the European Council meeting, Desmond Tutu, a South African social rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner, and Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, both members of The Elders group, published an opinion piece in which they call on the EU to exhibit strong climate change leadership, emphasizing the economic benefits of doing so.

The European Council will convene on 20-21 March 2014, in Brussels, Belgium, to discuss, inter alia, a framework for climate change and energy for 2020-2030.

Tutu and Robinson urge the 28 countries represented at the EU Summit to adopt more ambitious 2030 targets to put the EU on track to meet its own goal of a 95% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050. Maintaining and increasing Europe's climate leadership is a chance to gain a competitive edge, according to The Elders. Noting that the economies of China and the US are quickly adapting to meet climate targets, The Elders say negotiating strong measures in Brussels this week will send the signal that businesses need to "be ‘ahead of the curve' in the transition to low carbon development."

The Elders further assert that Europe should act on the moral imperative of addressing climate change, the effects of which will be felt most acutely by vulnerable countries. Agreeing on a strong climate framework in Brussels, according to Tutu and Robinson, will further strengthen Europe's alliance with least developed countries (LDCs), small island developing States (SIDS), and Latin American countries.

The Elders is a group of independent leaders formed in 2007 by the late Nelson Mandela. The Elders promote peace and human rights throughout the world, using their collective influence as progressive activists and peace builders. Many formerly held public office, but current members of the group do not represent a country or other vested interest. The Elders group is currently chaired by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. [Publication: Europe Should Lead on Climate Change] [The Elders Website]