A Europe-wide climate campaign launched this week by Friends of the Earth Europe and the Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke aims to get governments and the European Union to commit to annual cuts in emissions to fight climate change. The Big Ask brings together Friends of the Earth groups from 17 European countries each of which is asking its government to introduce legally binding annual emission cuts. Together they are asking the European Union to force all member states to cut their emissions year-on-year. Thom Yorke launched the European campaign in Brussels where he presented a symbol of the Big Ask to the European Environment Commissioner, Stavros Dimas. Thom Yorke has supported the Big Ask campaign in the UK where thanks to two years of campaigning from Friends of the Earth, a ground-breaking climate change bill is currently being made law. Now he is bringing the campaign to the rest of Europe.
Around Europe people are being asked to send a message to their politicians asking them to commit to annual cuts in emissions. Individuals can find out more about their national campaign at the Big Ask website. Different activities took place across the continent to mark the start of the European campaign. In Finland activists raised awareness with snowman rallies in 22 towns and cities while in the Netherlands activists built a dyke in front of the parliament building and invited politicians and celebrities to fill the gaps with sand-bags. At a European level Friends of the Earth Europe wants to see annual emission reductions for all member states and a strong compliance system to guarantee that these cuts really take place.
The Big Ask calls on the European Union to commit to at least 30% reductions in greenhouse gas emissions within Europe by 2020 and 90% by 2050. Friends of the Earth Europe has criticised the European Union's recent proposal to cut emissions by only 20% by 2020 and for giving no guarantee that these targets will be met.