Climate tops the European elections debate, forcing laggards to finally take a stand

Thanks to hundreds of thousands of young people protesting across European cities over the last months against the lack of adequate action to confront the climate emergency, climate change for the first time tops the agenda of the European election campaign. This has put pressure on more conservative politicians to finally acknowledge the need for climate action in their election campaigns.

The immense momentum gathered by youth climate strikes across Europe has forced centre and conservative parties of the current European Parliament to recognise that they can no longer downplay the climate crisis. After being criticised for not doing enough on climate, both Manfred Weber, representing the European People's Party (EPP) and Margrethe Vestager, representing the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) have been forced to give more attention to climate change in their election campaigns.

This is a sharp turn compared to the EPP’s and the ALDE’s stance on climate policy in the current legislative term, during which both parties have not lived up to the urgency of climate action. In a ranking of EU political groups and national parties on climate change published by Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe last month, the EPP scored a low 14.3%, and have been classified as Dinosaurs who have not yet grasped the need for action against climate change and as such prevent others from doing more. The ALDE had a relatively poor score of 38.1%, falling in the category of Delayers who generally support climate action, but do not act with the required urgency.

Commenting on the European election campaign, Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe said:

“In the last five years conservative and centre parties in the European Parliament have not done enough to stand up for European citizens and protect them from the climate crisis. The youth climate strikes created the momentum for all politicians to acknowledge that climate change is a topic they can no longer ignore. After the European elections we will hold MEPs accountable and make sure that their promises are followed by concrete measures to tackle the climate emergency. We need a broad alliance of MEPs across the political spectrum fighting for a cleaner, safer and more prosperous Europe.”

ENDS

Ania Drazkiewicz, CAN Europe Head of Communications, ania@caneurope.org, +32 494 525 738

Notes

The report “Defenders, Delayers, Dinosaurs: Ranking of EU political groups and national parties on climate change”: http://www.caneurope.org/docman/climate-energy-targets/3476-defenders-delayers-dinosaurs-ranking-of-eu-political-groups-and-national-parties-on-climate-change/file

Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe is Europe's leading NGO coalition fighting dangerous climate change. With over 160 member organisations from 35 European countries, representing over 1.700 NGOs and more than 47 million citizens, CAN Europe promotes sustainable climate, energy and development policies throughout Europe.

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