The European Grandparents for Climate will meet in Brussels from November 30 to December 3, when they participate in the Belgian Climate March. After almost a year of preparation by the Belgian National Organising Committee, they meet for an important next step in the organization’s short history. In Austria a Verein (Association) is formed to allow for a legal structure, which will lead to a more effective, efficient and credible organization, executing do-able and visible actions at the European level, in the context of the climate emergency.

Emissions Gap Report 2023

The key message of the 14th UN Emissions Gap Report, which was released on Monday November 20, is a knock-out warning for COP28, the climate summit in Dubai. Global temperatures are soaring and greenhouse gas emissions are again reaching unprecedented levels. So, dramatic climate action is needed to steer our unsustainable world away from runaway climate change, and align it to the objectives of the Paris Agreement. That is the major conclusion of the Emissions Gap Report.

Despite so many promises from both global leaders and politicians and the global industry, the report again points out that a dramatic change of course is necessary if we want to reach the 2015 Paris Agreement objectives. According to the report our joint ambitions are not enough. We will have to go for recordsetting reductions in emissions, for a green and just transition and a completely different way of climate financing, and that must happen now. That’s one of the main challenges for COP28.

To get back on track for the 2°C temperature rise above pre-industrial levels, emissions must be cut by at least 28 per cent compared to current scenarios. Bringing it to within the 1.5°C limit will require a 42 per cent cut. If nothing changes, in 2030, emissions will be 22 Gigatonnes higher than the 1.5°C limit will allow. That is more or less the total current annual emissions of the United States, China and the European Union (EU) combined.

The rich behave like spoiled first class passengers on board of the Titanic, discussing the menu while the ship inevitably sinks after colliding with an iceberg. Prof. em. Jan Stel

Climate justice

“What do we want?” Koen Platevoet, the coordinator of the Flemish Grootouders voor het Klimaat, asks us, through his megaphone, when we joined a climate march in Brussels. We answer in unison as spry and socially committed grandparents: “Climate justice! When do we want it? Now!” was and is the answer. But the reality is just shocking.

On November 20, 2023, Oxfam and the Stockholm Environment Institute, published the very sobering report Climate Equality: A planet for the 99%. Put in a nutshell the results demonstrate that “The richest 1% of the world’s population are responsible for as much carbon pollution as the people who make up the poorest two-thirds of humanity. They have stolen our planet’s resources to fuel their lavish lifestyles. A short trip on a private jet will produce more carbon than the average person emits all year. They are sacrificing us at the altar of their greed”. This quote is taken from the report’s foreword written by climate activist Greta Thunberg.

According to Oxfam we are facing both climate breakdown and runaway inequality. The richest people, corporations and countries are destroying the world with their huge carbon emissions. Meanwhile, people living in poverty, those experiencing marginalization, and countries in the Global South are those impacted the hardest. Women and girls, Indigenous Peoples, people living in poverty and other groups experiencing discrimination are at a particular disadvantage. The consequences of climate breakdown are felt in all parts of the world and by most people, yet only the richest people and countries have the wealth, power and influence to protect themselves. With that power comes huge responsibility.

COP28 is facing at least two big challenges: first Global Stocktake and secondly the Loss and Damage Fund. We have touched on the current dreadful situation above.

European Grandparents for Climate: the next phase

We, the European Grandparents for Climate, are fighting for a sustainable and just future. To do this more effectively we are changing our structure during the first days of the COP28 meeting. We want to become influencers in support of the full implementation of the European Green Deal. For that we will mobilise power of national memberships, which will have to expand, in order to become an efficient and credible European entity.

Jan Stel, Flemish Grootouders voor het Klimaat