Timmermans’s climate warning to MEPs: ‘Our children will wage war over food and water’

EC vice-president tells European Parliament they must overcome short-termist politics that avoids ‘painful’ decisions on climate and to trust their electorate

Frans Timmermans
Frans Timmermans

European Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans has warned MEPs that future generations will “wage war” over food and water shortages that will be caused by the climate crisis, unless Europe leads the way in achieving massive carbon cuts.

MEPs today addressed the plenary about ensuring the new laws proposed in the “Fit for 55 in 2030” package meet the increased climate ambitions adopted in the European Climate Law. The debate comes little more than a month after the publication of the latest IPCC report confirming climate change is widespread, rapid, and intensifying.

The European Climate Law adopted in June 2021 transforms the European Green Deal’s political commitment to EU climate neutrality by 2050 into a binding obligation for the EU and member states. It also increases the EU’s target for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 from 40% to at least 55%, compared to 1990 level.

“Our children will be waging war over food and water… migration today will be child’s play when you compare it to the migration flows that will be provoked by the climate crisis,” Timmermans said, questioning critics of the Fit For 55 package for considering that non-action could even be an option.

Timmermans criticised the short-termism of democratic politics where parties avoid propositions to the electorate that make their own election even more difficult. “There is such a lack of optimism in our society… we cannot afford to do that. We have to take the responsibility for measures that in a few years will result in a just society for humanity live within the limits the planet allows us.”

Timmermans said MEPs had to convince the international community to follow the EU’s lead in working towards a carbon-neutral society that lives “well within planetary bounds - the bad news that it’s bloody hard, the good news is that it is absolutely possible to get us there.

“I have more confidence in the understanding of our population that this will be necessary with the cost it will involve, than some of the politicians I have heard today. The thing is, our populations will support this… if we can show its results and that the burden will be shared in the equitable and solidarity-based way.

“Not tackling the climate crisis will lead to the most horrible social inequality, because rich people can always find a way out and a place to live. Poor people, middle classes cannot, and will suffer if we don’t act now.”

The Fit For 55 package comprises several legislative proposals including the revision of the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), amendments to the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Directives, as well as a revision of the CO2 standards for carsLand Use, Land Use Change and forest (LULUCF) and Effort Sharing Regulations.

Severe floods, landslides and forest fires hit several European countries this summer. The disasters caused loss of life and had a devastating impact on people’s homes and livelihoods, as well as economic sectors like farming.

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This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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