Against the fossil huggers!

Niki Best
08/07/2019, Articles European Spring Program
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Green is a symbol of hope — but it is also a source of great social wealth.

In his How are we going to explain this, Dutch journalist Jelmer Mommers shows that a truly sustainable transformation leads to millions of new jobs, lower health costs, less climate damage and growing incomes.

According to Mommers, the current, weak Dutch climate agreement nonetheless provides 39,000 to 72,000 full-time jobs; seven green jobs for every fossil job that disappears. Expected costs up to 2030: just under two billion euros per year.

By way of comparison: every year the Netherlands spends about eighty billion euros on healthcare and social security, about ten billion euros on defence. “With this little two billion, we can take the first steps to clean up the urban environment, mobility, agriculture and energy supply. Not an unpleasant return on investment, for a country that is a quarter below sea level.”

Mommers then describes how investors worldwide are currently missing out on billions because they won’t let go of their fossil fuels. An analysis of October 2018 shows that the New York State officials’ pension fund would have raised 22 billion dollars more if it had sold its investments in fossil energy companies ten years earlier. This would have yielded 19,820 dollars per pension participant. Another analysis shows that British public pension funds have also lost nearly one billion dollars due to the decline of coal.

That’s why in Trump’s America more coal plants are being closed than under Barack Obama. Established energy companies such as Shell and BP will find it increasingly difficult in the coming years to grow in their old oil and gas market. According to Mommers, the most important question is: who gets the growth? And the answer in the energy sector is increasingly: the sustainable alternative. In 2017, 45 percent of the global growth in energy demand was supplied by electricity from the sun and the wind.

Mommers concludes that an existing sector is already starting to shrink not long after a good alternative has presented itself. Take the Kodak photo rolls. The growth that the Kodaks of this world had expected was absorbed by the digital competition.

The Democracy in Europe Movement 25, DiEM25, aims to introduce such a fast, job-creating, green transition in Europe by 2025. DiEM25 has drawn up a well thought out, ambitious and crystal-clear political programme in which the necessary 500 billion euros are invested annually in green infrastructure and green industry. This rapid transition will be financed by green bonds issued by existing European investment banks. These bonds will be covered by an alliance of European central banks.

The need is obvious. Even the economic interests are clear. But established short-term interests do not give way. This is not new. What’s new is that this time it’s a matter of urgency if we want to keep our planet liveable. DiEM25 is the only European political movement that has a plan for the whole of Europe, hundreds of times more ambitious than the Dutch climate agreement. But the media and politicians are silent about it. In this way they fail to make our current billions of losses known to the general public. And to give a unique climate plan the attention and thus the votes needed for European growth, jobs and clean air.

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