We know there is more coal, oil and gas in known reserves around the world than we can possibly afford to burn if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change. Continued extraction and burning of fossil fuels is devastating the planet and livelihoods, hitting the poorest hardest. The impacts of climate change are happening now, including in Europe.
Our governments are failing to deliver the levels of action needed to address this. As things stand, Europe still bases most of its energy supply on dirty and dangerous sources. Governments are leaving their fossil-fuel addictions unchecked – locking in fossil fuel dependency by fracking for gas, importing fracked oil and gas from the US and tar sands from Canada, and expanding drilling into the Arctic. Big oil and gas companies are peddling gas as a mythical transition fuel, and governments are buying it, building new unnecessary fossil fuel infrastructure like pipelines and terminals.
The world is on track to global warming in excess of 3˚C, yet the commitments made by political leaders under the Paris Agreement fall far short of what is needed to effectively protect vulnerable and poor people across the world. The 40% emissions cut by 2030 proposed by the European Union (EU) is nowhere near Europe's fair share to keep climate change in line with a maximum average temperature rise of 1.5˚C.
But, it doesn't have to be this way. Imagine a world where the energy you use is produced and owned by your community, using the wind, the sun and other truly renewable sources. Where you live in a home that is warm and easy-to-heat, with energy-efficient appliances that are cheap to run, and the air you breathe is clean. A world where coal, oil and gas stays where it is in the ground.
This safe and clean Europe, free from fossil fuels, is possible, and it's happening now. In communities across Europe, people are already developing community power projects, taking control of their energy sources or joining together to make their homes energy efficient.
The movement towards a fossil free Europe is inevitable and cannot be stopped.
But politicians and big business are not yet giving enough backing to this transition. And the costs of delay for vulnerable communities across the world are devastating. Some scientists have coined this – 'Decade Zero' in that decisions made in this decade will shape the future of our planet and humanity.
This means stopping the exploration for, and exploitation of, fossil fuels across Europe, and means bringing an end to imports of dirty fossil fuels as fast as possible. The phase-out of fossil fuels must happen without false solutions like nuclear power, biofuels, geo-engineering, emission trading schemes or large-scale biomass, and without new trade deals that restrict how we manage our own energy use.
Solutions such as active community and citizen engagement in owning and producing renewable energy – "community energy"– need to play an increasingly central role in the energy mix.
The full potential for smarter energy use needs to be realised, both in our homes and in industry. We need to ensure that the legal and financial barriers that stop this happening are removed. And citizens need to be engaged in shaping the way forward through democratic processes.
We'll be fighting fossil fuel developments in individual countries from national to local level, and putting people at the centre of the energy transformation. We have the renewable and safe energy solutions we need to deliver a just transition to a 100% renewable, no nuclear, super energy-efficient, zero-fossil-fuel Europe. The need for rapidly escalated action is urgent. But if we secure a just and quick transformation we can avoid the worst effects of climate change and a brighter future for us all.