Fighting Climate Change, Fighting Injustice – Our Common Cause
Progressive Leaders for a strong climate agreement If social democracy represent solidarity and reducing inequalities, then the fight against climate change must be at the very heart of our political agenda for now and the years to come. Vulnerable groups – such as children, the poor, people with disabilities and the elderly suffer the most as the climate changes. It places their homes, health, livelihoods and food security at risk. Vulnerable people and communities in all countries at all levels of development are paying the highest price for climate risks. And people in developing countries pay even more.
As European socialists and democrats, solidarity is our life-blood. We fight for equality between countries, between peoples, between genders, generations, and of opportunities. Nothing tests this engagement more than climate change. As European socialist, social democrat and labour leaders we have made, and will continue to make, climate policy an integral part of our fight against social injustices, in Europe and world-wide. We genuinely believe that this can constitute an inspiring goal and a strong incentive to innovate in the delivery of our public policies. A mere look at the numerous initiatives taken on the ground, at all level, shows that our citizens stand ready to take up the challenge. Let's not deceive them!
This December all the eyes of the world will be on Paris. Diplomats, politicians, NGOs, international institutions, industries, concerned citizens and many more will arrive for the ‘COP 21’ meeting at which world leaders are expected to reach an agreement to tackle global climate change. The summit is being hosted by the French President Francois Hollande. To prepare our position for COP21, we European socialist and democrat leaders came together in Paris, at the invitation of French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, and adopted our common declaration ’21 Progressive Proposals for COP21’ to show our willingness to achieve an ambitious, legally-binding, universal and dynamic agreement that limits global warming to maximum of two degrees. We strongly believe that leaders meeting in December should adopt appropriate climate mitigation and adaptation measures to apply to all countries.
Such a strong agreement will show the urgency of the climate crisis, and acknowledge its impact on our populations. Our political fight prioritises jobs and ensuring strong social protection systems.
In the transition to a low carbon economy, most new jobs will be created in – to pick up one obvious example – the construction sector, one of the sectors worst affected by the economic crisis. Renovating Europe’s buildings stock would take at least 30 years, and would create jobs mainly for local small and medium-sized enterprises - which we know are the main sources of new employment creation economy-wide. These jobs would make buildings (including schools and hospitals) more energy efficient and in doing so reduce energy consumption, citizens’ and public sector energy bills and CO2 emissions. There are many other economic sectors that can benefit from this transition if we are courageous enough to overcome short-term considerations and build on a truly mainstreamed approach.
The benefits go much wider; people’s health would improve; lower emissions means less respiratory problems and older people and children are less at risk of extreme temperatures. Climate action will improve the environment and also offer opportunities for social progress reducing inequalities, and improving health and well-being.
In the western world we have profited from carbon-intensive industrialisation and development. But this has not been without consequence for the planet. We have only one planet and we cannot afford to waste it by continuing along the same development path. While we have been the first to benefit from technological progress – the effects are felt first by those in developing countries. Therefore it is now time that we recognise this imbalance and offer financial, technological and capacity building support to adapt to climate change and develop on a low carbon path.
Across the world we must invest in green technology, urgently phase out fossil fuel subsidies, and put an appropriate price on carbon. By scaling up predictable, new and additional international climate finance, we can put our money where our mouth is. Tangible progress ahead of the Paris COP21 negotiations remains to be achieved on the financing side. We all know that this will constitute a sine qua non condition to achieve an agreement. But just as important as the tools, is the political will to make this happen. Europe must remain a global leader to ensure that an agreement is reached and must push its partners to take ambitious climate action. The recent talks between the US and China as well as the programs presented by more than 150 countries so far show there is growing momentum in this direction. But work remains to be done if we really want to keep the rise in global average temperature below 2°C above preindustrial levels.
We European socialist and democrat leaders are making 21 progressive proposals for COP21, to put international climate action on an effective path, to make Europe a credible leader in global climate action. We have the will – it goes hand in hand with our ongoing battle against social inequalities world-wide. We invite others coming to Paris in December to join us, to stop global warming and eliminate the injustices it causes.
Sergei Stanishev, President - PES
Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, Leader – Socialist Party, France
Gianni Pitella, President - S&D group in the European Parliament
Kathleen Van Brempt, S&D MEP, Belgium