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Joint Statement : Real Zero Europe – Real solutions, not ‘net zero’

1 December 2022

To avoid the worst effects of climate chaos, we must radically transform, equitably and justly, the way we produce our food, manage our ecosystems, and power our economies. We must urgently deploy real and proven, socially just and people-led solutions and dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions at source, down to Real Zero.

Read the statement on the dedicated website and the press release with a quote from one of our member farmers here. The full analysis is available here

Because emissions are cumulative, every ton of current emissions contributes to the growing climate chaos that we see all around the world: heat waves, glaciers collapsing, intensified cyclones, crop losses, wildfires, and massive flooding, among other devastating impacts.

Yet fossil-drenched and fossil-entrenched government and corporate interests keep subsidizing, producing, and burning fossil fuels. Their latest greenwashing fantasy is that ‘nature-based solutions’ and future technologies of ‘carbon dioxide removal’ (CDR) will suck vast amounts of ongoing carbon pollution back out of the atmosphere some day. Their strategy assumes an overshoot of 1.5 °C, with just a possibility of returning to safe temperature levels, putting all of the planet at risk from the serious consequences of overshoot that the IPCC has warned about in its latest report.

In this strategy, every ton of promised future CDR represents emissions that are bringing us more climate chaos today. 

The plan that the European Commission (EC) put forward in December 2021 in their Communication on Sustainable Carbon Cycles contributes to this strategy. In the communication, the EC proposes a regulatory process at the EU-level to certify carbon removals and create a credit that then could be traded in carbon offset markets. Future CDR and carbon-offset markets are smokescreens for current inaction.

In the plan, the EC promotes two types of CDR. The first is the temporary storage of carbon in fields and forests—called ‘carbon farming’—as a means to address ongoing emissions, including the permanent emissions of fossil fuels. But temporary ‘nature-based’ sequestration is not interchangeable with and cannot compensate for fossil emissions that stay in the atmosphere and contribute to warming for hundreds to thousands of years. 

The Commission is also promoting technological approaches, including direct air carbon capture and storage (DACCS) and bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS). These technologies are not currently viable at scale AND have potentially enormous social, environmental, and economic risks and costs from their very high energy and resource consumption as well as from the transport and storage of carbon dioxide.   

Both carbon farming and BECCS, should it ever become feasible at scale, also pose huge risks for land-speculation and land-grabbing from small-scale farmers and peasants, threatening food sovereignty in the EU and around the world. 

The European Commission’s direction of travel completely ignores the past and current failures of carbon offset markets to deliver either emissions reductions or the finance needed for a real and just transition away from fossil-based economies. A carbon removals-offset market benefits polluters most of all. It relies on a dangerous and false justification for continuing emissions: that someone, somewhere, might at sometime in the future remove a ton of carbon from the atmosphere. It is a sure way to torch the planet.

Future CDR cannot serve as a substitute for deep emissions reductions now. To stay below 1.5 °C of warming, requires real, just, and immediate reductions. A strategy to overshoot 1.5°C and bet on temporary removals and currently non-existent technologies to return someday to safe global temperatures is a strategy of climate disaster.

Europe has a huge historical responsibility to support a just transition for the Global South, and to rapidly bring emissions down to Real Zero at home. We know what Real Zero looks like: a just and equitably managed phase-out of fossil fuels; an energy transformation to real, fair, democratic, and sustainable renewable energy; support for small-scale farmers and a just transition of food and agricultural systems towards agroecology for food sovereignty; close-to-nature forestry practices; and the redirection of public subsidies, away from fossils, to support these measures.

Getting to Real Zero and staying below 1.5 °C of warming requires rejecting any European Commission proposal for certifying carbon removal offsets in a failed carbon market. It requires halting emissions and restoring ecosystems now.

Campaign comic depicting a car driving off a cliff and the driver telling the passengers begging him to hit the brakes : "No need - we have airbags."

Initial Signatories

Biofuelwatch

BUND / Friends of the Earth Germany

CCFD - Terre Solidaire

CEO - Corporate Europe Observatory

CIEL - Center for International Environmental Law

Corporate Accountability

European Coordination Via Campesina

Fern

Food & Water Action Europe

Friends of the Earth Europe

Friends of the Earth International

Global Forest Coalition

Heinrich Böll Siftung

IATP - Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy

ReCommon

Also Signed By

350.org

Aalem for Orphan and Vulnerable Children, Inc.

AbibiNsroma Foundation

ActionAid International

Actúa por un Mundo Sostenible

Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice

African Children Empowerment 

Agora Association 

Agroecology X

Aid/Watch

AirClim

Aitec

Alofa Tuvalu

Andrea Echeverri

Andy Gheorghiu Consulting

Asrori Farm

Association for Farmers Rights Defense

Association For Promotion Sustainable Development

Association of voluntary actions for society

Association pour l'Integration et le Developpement Durable au Burundi

Association pour la Conservation et la Protection des Écosystèmes des Lacs et l'Agrlculture Durable 

ATerra

Attac France

Biowatch South Africa

Boerenforum

Bread for the World, German Protestantic Church

Break Free From Plastic

Buergerinitiative gegen CO2-Endlager e.V.

BUNDjugend / Young Friends of the Earth Germany 

Canopée

Carmelite NGO

CBM Ireland

CEDEUAM - UniSalento

Censat Agua Viva

Centre for Climate Action

Centre for Climate Safety

Centro de Documentación en Derechos Humanos "Segundo Montes Mozo SJ" 

CESTA Friends of the Earth El Salvador

CIDSE

Climate Action Campaign Humboldt Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

Climáximo

Coma Sound LTD

Confédération paysanne

Coordination gegen BAYER-Gefahren

Deutsche Umwelthilfe

Earth Action, Inc.

Eco Dharma Network

Eco Ruralis peasant farmers Association 

Ecologistas en Acción

EcoNexus

Ecosia GmbH

Environmental Investigation Agency

Environmental Justice Foundation

Equity Transit

Erfurt University of Applied Sciences

Euro Coop

Fachhochschule Erfurt

Farmworker Association of Florida

FDCL - Center for Research and Documentation Chile-Latin America

Federation of Community Forestry Users Nepal

Feedback 

Feedback EU

Feminist Exchange Network 

FIAN Belgium

FIAN Deutschland

FIAN International

Focsiv italian federation christian organisations international voluntary service

Food Sovereignty Ghana

Foodjustice

Forests & Finance Coalition

Forests of the World

FÓRUM MUDANÇAS CLIMÁTICAS E JUSTIÇA SOCIOAMBIENTAL - FMCJS

Forum Ökologie & Papier

Fresh Eyes

Fridays for Future Spain - Juventud por el Clima

Frie Bønder Levende Land

Friends of the Earth France

Friends of the Earth Malta

Friends of the Earth Scotland

Friends of the Earth Spain

Friends of the Earth US

GALBA - Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport

Gallifrey Foundation

Gastivists

GLOBAL 2000

Global Justice Ecology Project 

Global Media Foundation

Green Finance Observatory

Green Liberty

Greenpeace

Health of Mother Earth Foundation 

Humusz Szövetség

IBON International

Igapo Project

Indigenous Environmental Network 

Indigenous Peoples Global Forum for Sustainable Development

Indonesia for Global Justice

Institute for Sustainability, Equity and Resilience

Institute for Sustainable Development 

Jordens Vänner / Friends of the Earth Sweden

Justiça Ambiental

Justice Institute Guyana

Kaganga John

Kenya Small Scale Farmers Forum KESSFF 

Kilusan para sa Repormang Agraryp at Katarungang Panlipunan (KAT

Klimadelegation e.V. 

La Via Campesina Arab and North Africa Region ARNA

LaKunaBi

Law 4 Palestine

Leefmilieu

London Mining Network

MannheimZero

Mazingira Institute

MediaArt-Dortmund

MIJARC Europe

Milieudefensie - Friends of the Earth Netherlands

MISEREOR

Mom Loves Taiwan Association

Movement for Advancing Understanding of Sustainability And Mutuality

National Rural Women Coalition - Philippines

NGO Forum on ADB

No Plastic In My Sea

NOAH - Friends of the Earth Denmark

Not Here Not Anywhere

Novasutras

ÖBV-Via Campesina Austria

Ole Siosiomaga Society Incorporated (OLSSI)

Partnership for Policy Integrity

People & Planet Edinburgh

Pivot Point

Polish Ecological Club Mazovian Branch

Polish Zero Waste Association

PowerShift e.V.

Profundo

Public Eye

Reacción Climática 

Réaction en chaîne humaine 

Reclame Fossielvrij

Regenerate Hub

Rethink Plastic (NGO coalition)

Rettet den Regenwald e.V.

Rezero

Santa Cruz Climate Action Network

SchipholWatch

Schola Campesina

Sciences Citoyennes

Semnar / Saatgutpolitik & Wissenschaft

SETEM Catalunya

Social Tipping Point Coalitie

SofA Münster (sofortiger Atomausstieg)

Stand.earth

Stay Grounded Network

Stowarzyszenie Pracownia na rzecz Wszystkich Istot

Sustainable Development Institute

The Greens Movement of Georgia - FoE Georgia

Third World Network

Toekomstboeren

Transition Crich

Transnational Institute

Tripla Difesa Onlus Guardie Sicurezza Sociale e Eco Zoofile 

UBINIG (Policy Research for Development Alternative)

UDAPT

Umanotera

Union Of Agriculture Work Committees

UNISC International

United Kingdom Without Incineration Network

Uranium Network

Urgewald

Voedsel Anders Belgium

Voedsel Anders Nederland

Wall of Women

WomanHealth Philippines

Working group Food Justice

World March of Women

Xnet

Yeşil Çember – ökologisch interkulturell gGmbH 

Yorkshire and Humber Climate Justice Coalition

ZERO - Associação Sistema Terrestre Sustentável

Zero Waste Europe

Zukunftskonvent Germany

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