On 16th April, the climate activist Greta Thunberg gave a speech in the EU Parliament, in which she demanded more cooperation and actions by the decision-makers in the European Union to avert the imminent climate crisis. The forthcoming EU elections provide an opportunity to put the climate problem on top of the agenda.
The demonstrations “Fridays for Future” have already grown into a global school strike movement, which has drawn increasingly more attention to the concerns of young generations. Many of the participants are not yet eligible to vote, including the 16-year old climate activist and initiator of the protest movement, Greta Thunberg, who on 16th April 2019 delivered a moving speech before MEPs, in which she expressed her concern regarding an environmental breakdown and the climate crisis. In her speech she urged - in view of the forthcoming EU elections - to cast one’s vote in favour of the concerns of those young people and of future generation, who could not yet vote themselves. These elections would be important for the future living conditions of humanity, said Thunberg.
Greta Thunberg: Call for cooperation and action
The young climate activist referred to the far-reaching changes, which would already happen due to the way we live and the changing climate conditions because of it, such as the extinction of up to 200 species a day, toxic air pollution, the extinction of insects and wildlife and the acidification of our oceans. She told MEPs that far more than the current actions were required as climate change was the greatest challenge of her generation. There is still time to act, but the time window would not be open for very long. What is required are far-reaching visions and great determination; that is why Thunberg urged the decision-makers in the European Union to put aside their disputes about Brexit and taxes and to cooperate at last. As our world is in danger of collapsing, not Brexit, but the climate crisis should dominate all discussions and headlines.
EU elections: Opportunity to send a signal for climate protection
The EU Commissioner for climate protection, Miguel Canete, asked Greta Thunberg to keep up the pressure. He emphasised, in view of the EU elections in May, that this was an opportunity to put climate protection at the centre of the elections.
Kathleen Van Bremt, Vice-Chair of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats and responsible for sustainability issues, shared the view of the young activist. She commented that even though innovations and technologies were vital in the fight against the climate crisis, they must not be used as an excuse for inactivity, because one should not rely too much on still unproven technologies.
Even though the visit of the young activist was met with a very positive response, there were also political forces in the EU Parliament, who were against Greta’s appearance. The EPP, ALDE and ECR fractions were against her appearance in the EU Parliament, using the argument that children should be at school on Fridays.
AK: Socially fair climate policy required
From the AK’s point of view, climate change is one of the greatest existing challenges, which has to be counteracted with determination. It is of particular importance to ensure that the protection of the environment is not only understood as a purely technical challenge, but as a profoundly social issue, which concerns the whole of society. The fight against climate change must be fair and only then it will be possible to ensure necessary broad support. In doing so, one has to pay special attention to the effects of decarbonisation - for example to the employees in negatively affected industries. In order to ensure a fair distribution of transformation costs and to exclude social hardship cases, it is important to integrate social partners and interest representatives in any decision-making processes.