Why do engagement phobes return?

Climate protection: Europe at the fork in the road

1 - Réseau Action Climat is the French association for associations working to combat climate change and represents France in a European and global network of NGOs. They deal with topics such as nutrition, energy - or Europe. Where do you see the challenges here?

Climate has become a priority in Europe since the 2019 European elections. All political parties talk about it, but once you have to get your hands dirty, old reflexes often return.

Europe has to make important decisions in order to steer our continent in the right direction and to act as a role model on the international stage - today more than ever, shortly before the fifth anniversary of the Paris Climate Agreement. Our European governments must agree on a new European climate target for 2030 that will limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees.

The European Parliament has tried to face this challenge and has adopted the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by 2030. This mark is the least that Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron and the other heads of state should strive forto do justice to the findings of science. This is not just a number, but a compass that can be used to guide all political decisions: around 750 billion euros in the European reconstruction plan can be invested in such a way that ecological change is sought in the economy, stable jobs are created and our living conditions are improved become.

So Europe is at a fork in the road: It should choose the path of the Green Deal and not a dangerous status quo that leads us into a world that is 5 degrees too hot.

2 - What role does Franco-German cooperation play in meeting these challenges? And how does Réseau Action Climat cooperate with its European partners?

The European development plan has shown it:

Great progress is hardly possible if Germany and France do not agree.

Franco-German cooperation can also be an engine when it comes to the climate. But the two countries have long had differences in the fight against climate change: Germany accuses France of keeping its aging nuclear power plants running and France complains that Germany's coal phase-out is taking too long. In view of the political situation in Europe, however, we have no choice but to find a Franco-German agreement on climate issues.

For example, Réseau Action Climat in France works with German partner NGOs, such as the Deutscher Naturschutzring or Germanwatch: We are jointly applying pressure to advance the climate debate in France and Germany and to reach an agreement on ecological change. We can only solve the problem together - governments must understand that too.

3 - This year, a Citizens' Council for the Climate was launched in France. How do you rate this experiment?

The Citizens' Council for Climate is an unprecedented democracy experiment that can serve as an example across Europe: 150 citizens were informed about the scientific facts from climate research and on this basis developed demands for ecological change:

This is a success that shows that informed citizens can make responsible decisions that reflect the urgency of the crisis - even if they are radical.

In order for the Citizens' Council to be a real success story, the government must now accept and implement the demands unfiltered. That was President Emmanuel Macron's promise, but he has not yet fulfilled it: The government is currently canceling some structural demands, such as the abolition of domestic flights or the taxation of SUVs. These “jokers”, as Emmanuel Macron called the exceptions, damage the trust of citizens in the promises of politics. And that is doubly dangerous: for the climate and for democracy.

4 - In general, where can citizens themselves become active in the fight against climate change - individually, or at local, national and European level?

We can all stand up for climate protection. Without the mass movement of citizens, the European Green Deal would never have existed. The issue of “climate” is one of the biggest concerns of Europeans - and rightly so, because the threat posed by climate change is unprecedented.

In order to put the issue on the political agenda and force decision-makers to act, civil society organizations need the support of committed, active citizens.

So it is important not to let your shoulders sag, because we still have a lot to do!

5 - Those who stand up for environmental protection are sometimes accused of the naive utopia, sometimes of the negative dystopia of a total collapse of our industrial civilization. Which shoe do you prefer to wear and what do you answer such allegations?

It is not utopian to want to fight a threat like the climate crisis, which is already having a massive impact on our lives and everyday life. On the contrary: that is pragmatic. This pragmatism is based on scientific data and on the solutions of ecological change. Blocking these changes and sticking to the status quo means ignoring the danger.

If we advance ecological change, we can mitigate the catastrophic effects of climate change and also strengthen our societies: stable jobs in future sectors that cannot be relocated abroad; secure energy supply for all people; Strengthening our sovereignty.

In short: we should stop talking about utopia or horror scenarios.

We have no choice but to campaign for climate protection. The solutions are known - it's time to be pragmatic.