Europe will only be green when it overthrows its oligarchy

The European Commission’s ‘Green Deal’ is woefully inadequate. We need Europeans on the streets, citizens’ assemblies, workers reskilled and MeRA25 in parliaments

At the beginning of 2020, at the peak of Green New Deal discourse, the European Commission (EC) issued its own policy package: the European Green Deal.

It tried to ride the wave of GNDs, using the momentum generated by US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the progressive pan-European movement Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 (DiEM25), to placate the masses — and silence the activists demanding a more serious approach towards the climate crisis.

In this, the EC utterly failed. The content of this ‘Green Deal’ is woefully inadequate for the challenge at hand; in speed, scale and scope, the plan fails to respect the scientific consensus about the demands of a just transition. And it leaves intact the EU’s basic economic architecture which has created the social and ecological crises we face today, one centered on growth and profit rather than people and planet.

Why the Green Deal failed

Needless to say, backroom deals between career politicians and international lobbyists will only enrich the oligarchs while oppressing the Earth and 99 percent of people.

The EC claims it wants a carbon neutral continent by 2050, while at the same time it and its member states provided more than €112 billion a year between 2014 and 2016 in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. On the same matter, 15 of the member states subsidise fossil fuels more than renewables, while they also get more tax breaks than their green energy counterparts. It’s worth mentioning that this is not just a European trend, but a worldwide rule. G20 states have given more than €3 trillion in subsidies to fossil fuels since the Paris Agreement.

The EC claims it wants a carbon neutral continent by 2050, while at the same time it and its member states provided more than €112 billion a year between 2014 and 2016 in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. Image: Suzanne Lawrence.

Of course, these narcissistic careerists who we call politicians aren’t just friends with the fossil fuel industry. There is also, for example, animal agriculture which is responsible for 32 percent of people-generated methane emissions. And yet no one’s talking about ending this unethical and destructive sector of production. And that’s before we even consider the effect that the military has on the environment.

What needs to be done

The fact is that we have clear data on what needs to be done and how to do it, what practices we should continue and what should be ended. DiEM25 wrote a detailed blueprint for this transition, where we went into details of every step that needs to be done. We have even named these institutions that need to operate within planetary boundaries.

Bill McKibben, the founder of 350.org, said that “this is the first attempt at a political solution to climate change that is on the same scale as the crisis itself” while James K. Galbraith described our policy as “the most comprehensive program in Europe for the historic challenge ahead”. Now politicians have to implement this policy package. But can we really trust this rotten structure to do something good? I don’t think so. The ties of corruption are too deep. We need a new structure.

Decarbonising Europe must be a top priority. Otherwise, a rising temperature of 2.7 degrees will become a reality. When that happens we are going to witness a lot of climate disasters, rising sea levels, a wave of climate refugees and more.

But for the green transition to work it must be fair for workers. Those workers left without a job will be compensated through universal basic income and will be taken care of through the program of green jobs training. For example, coal miners will be able to move to a publicly owned wind industry and learn how to work in that area.

For the green transition to work it must be fair for workers.

My point is clear: Europe will be green, but only once its oligarchy is overthrown.

In order to do that we need people on the streets, citizens’ assemblies around the continent, scientists being listened to and MeRA25 (DiEM25’s electoral wing) in parliaments across Europe.

This way, we will tackle all the overlapping crises simultaneously: environmental, economic and the crises of democracy. Our agenda is composed of three major initiatives:

  1. Green Public Works: an investment body to kickstart Europe’s equitable green transition
  2. Environmental Union: a regulatory and legal framework to ensure that the European economy transitions quickly and fairly, without transferring carbon costs onto front-line communities
  3. Environmental Justice Commission: an independent body to research and investigate new standards of ‘environmental justice’ across Europe and among the multinationals operating outside its borders.

At least five percent of the European Union’s GDP must be funneled into green transition yearly, while we take a thoughtful consideration of international, intersectional and intergenerational justice. Of course, planetary boundaries and attention towards all sentient beings must be taken seriously into account during the process, and afterwards.

The EC’s Green Deal does not care about democratisation. The EC talks about vague allocation of resources through private investors, while it simultaneously plunders the Global South. If we want to do this right, international, intergenerational and intersectional justice must be a precedent.

Europe must lead the way, due to historical and current injustices (such as colonial and neo-colonial practices), but also due to the greater responsibility for historical and current emissions, and greater technological and financial capacity.

No one says it is going to be easy but it must be done. The pathway to the just transition is clear:

  • Universal Basic Income in a form of a dividend for all citizens
  • Job guarantees and workplace democratisation
  • A 4-day work week with fair wages
  • Training programs for green jobs
  • A roof over every citizen’s head through repurposing vacant houses
  • A carbon tax on all polluters
  • Keeping fossil fuels in the ground
  • Ending animal agriculture
  • Free public transport and regional railways with electric trains all over the continent
  • A law of Ecocide
  • A commitment to have a carbon neutral continent by 2030

We need to start now. Join DiEM25 and help us make this a reality.

This article was originally posted on GND Media, and has been re-published with permission. 

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