Climate change – scaremongering or an unfortunate reality? Interview with Wendel Trio, Director of the Climate Action Network Europe (CAN Europe)

By Hannah Schartmann.

A warm welcome, Wendel Trio. What are your tasks at the Climate Action Network Europe?

I have been the Director of CAN Europe since September 2011. My main tasks include strategy development, political representation, developing the network and fundraising. I also coordinate and manage the secretariat.

Can you tell me a bit more about CAN? What are your goals and tasks?

CAN Europe is Europe’s leading NGO coalition fighting dangerous climate change. We are 160 member organisations from 35 European countries, representing over 1.700 NGOs. Our aim is the protection of the global climate in a manner that promotes equity and social justice between peoples, sustainable development of all communities, and protection of the global environment.

Are you still looking for new members and are there any requirements for an organisation to join the network?

We are always looking for new members. The organisation should be independent from business interest and from political parties. Our CAN Europe Membership is open to non-governmental/non-profit organisations, who are based in Europe and who have a focus on climate change issues. There are a lot of benefits to join our network.

For example?

You are joining the leading European and worldwide NGO network on climate change. You can participate in our regular workshops and webinars on climate and energy related topics. You will also have access to our email lists, which provide a lot of information about EU climate policy, renewable energy and energy savings. Finally, you can connect with other people working on the same issues and exchange ideas.

What do you think are the main threats to our planet?

Climate change represents an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to human societies and the planet. By the decade 2006–2015, human activity had warmed the world by 0.87°C (± 0.12°C) compared to pre-industrial times (1850–1900). If the current warming rate continues, the world would reach human-induced global warming of 1.5°C around 2040.

Why has a temperature rise such a negative impact on our planet?

Temperature rise has already resulted in profound alterations to human and natural systems, like an increase in droughts, floods, and some other types of extreme weather. Sea levels are rising, glaciers are melting and coral reefs are bleaching – a biodiversity loss. These changes are causing unprecedented risks to persons. The most affected people live in low and middle income countries, some of which have experienced a decline in food security, which in turn is partly linked to rising migration and poverty.

What is your demand to the EU to minimize these threats?

We have to implement the Paris Agreement to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C. Thus, we call upon the EU to firstly reduce all greenhouse gas emissions by at least 65% by 2030, as compared to 1990, secondly to increase natural carbon removals so as to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040 and thirdly, to phase out all coal power plants by 2030 and to phase out the use of all fossil fuels by 2040. We need a 100% renewable European energy system by 2050 at the latest.

That’s a highly challenging task and also impossible to achieve?

I still have hope. However, all relevant companies, industries and stakeholders would need to be involved. Each person can help to fight against climate change. Examples are: changing our food systems, such as diet changes away from land-intensive animal products, electrifying transport and developing ‘green infrastructure’, such as building green roofs, or improving energy efficiency by smart urban planning.

What is your opinion about the worldwide climate strikes?

They are very important because they show that people care about climate change. There is a growing awareness of climate change. In order to make a difference, the strikes need to have an impact on policy.

Do you have any message to the public regarding climate change?

Climate change needs an overall solution. The government must accept climate change and they have to see it as a project. Beside of the government, each person should be willing to help to stop the climate change. There are a lot of ways to do so. It is the responsibility of every one of us to fight against the climate crisis. If we want to save our planet, we have to change our lifestyle.

Thank you very much for the interview. If you would like to learn more about the Climate Action Network Europe, you can visit their website: http://www.caneurope.org/ and Youtube Channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcVTJHLcC31QETZDC6AYXvQ.

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