Environment does not stop at borders: Towards a Sustainable Europe and a Sustainable Global Climate Policy

Resolution submitted by JEF Political Commission 1: Institutions and Governance & JEF Political Commission 2: Internal European Policy.
Adopted by the European Congress in Paris on 26 October 2019. Re-adopted by the Federal Committee in Luxembourg on 10 April 2022.

JEF Europe,

  • Recalling Art. 37 “Protection of the environment” of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union;
  • Reminding the United Nations Brundtland Commission’s definition (1987) of sustainability as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”, echoing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals;
  • Recalling JEF resolutions “A federal strategy for sustainable, safe and healthy food for all Europeans”,“An Accelerated Transition to the Circular Economy”,“For a Free, “Fair and Sustainable Trade Policy”;
  • Recalling the JEF internal resolution “For a more sustainable JEF”;
  • Believing that the cross-border nature of the environment, the global dimension of the climate challenge as well as the international scale of polluting actors requires supranational solutions at the global level and shows all the limits of the intergovernmental systems in facing the climate crisis;
  • Recognising that in a globalized world ecosystems are interdependent with economic and social challenges;
  • Worried that currently our economic structures, not bound by democratic institutions, often cause harm to the environment;
  • Alarmed that natural resources are being degraded by the unsustainable way in which socio-economic human-led activities such as agriculture, fisheries, transport, industry, tourism and urban sprawl are carried;
  • Highlighting the increased knowledge on the adverse impacts of plantations and cattle livestock in tropical and highly biodiverse regions, whose expansion is partly driven by rising demand for these products in the EU;
  • Further alarmed by the global pressures on the environment that keep growing at an unprecedented rate, driven by economic and population growth, and changing consumption patterns;
  • Deeply concerned about the dramatic predictions made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in the sixth assessment report published in February 2022 on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C;
  • Noting that at the current level of emissions and without the necessary cuts in emissions before the end of this decade, this critical limit of 1.5°C will inevitably be surpassed;
  • Supporting the European Parliament’s declaration of 2019 declaring a climate emergency in Europe and globally calling for the alignment of all policy proposals with 1.5°C target of global warming;
  • Recognising the insufficient impact of the latest and most critical intergovernmental meetings – such as the UN Climate Action Summit 2019, Conferences Of the Parties (COPs), European Councils and the G20 – which despite clear outcomes and attainable objectives, remain non-binding and unenforceable on national governments;
  • Observing with concern and disappointment the absence from the COP26 of the leaders of China, Russia and Brazil;
  • Deeply concerned by the failure in reaching an agreement during the G20 on the zero-emission within 2050;
  • Alarmed by the articulated system of anti-scientific disinformation propagated for political and economic gain;
  • Recognizing the unique opportunity to boost climate-friendly investments in the recovery period from the Covid-19 pandemic;
  • Concerned about Europe’s dependency on fossil energy as well as other energy and energy technology imports from third countries, which already threatens Europe’s security of energy supply and leads to elevated risks of energy poverty due to rising prices, as witnessed during the 2022 invasion of Ukraine by Russia;
  • Noting with praise that European legal systems such as in Germany, the Netherlands, and France, are highlighting the right of future generations to a climate neutral world, the private sector’s responsibility in cutting emissions, and the obligation of governments to implement effective and science-based climate policy;
  • Looking positively at the international mobilisations against climate change mainly led by young people;
  • Welcoming the numerous European citizens’ initiatives to tackle climate change;
  • Welcoming the EU new resources based on contribution from non-recycled plastic packaging waste, alongside a simplification of the VAT-based own resource, as well as from the Carbon Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM);
  • Welcoming the agreement reached by the Council on the CBAM regulation, as one of the key elements of the European Union’s “Fit for 55” package;
  • Taking into consideration the “Economists’ statement on carbon dividends”;
  • Noting that there is a wide (and to a large extent, unresolved) economic debate about the best way to reduce emissions, more precisely on whether to use quantity (such as a set amount of emission permits) or price instruments (such as a tax on emissions, without a limit);
  • Recalling the opinion expressed by many top scientists that the climate neutrality target of 2050 is too late to fulfil the goals set in the Paris Climate Agreement;
  • Welcoming the proposal of the European Commission, known as the “Fit for 55” package, that fixes the goal of reducing the greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030 and sets a binding target of achieving climate neutrality by 2050;
  • Noting further that the EU ETS system accounts for roughly three-quarters of international carbon trading and that since 2013 it also covers emissions of nitrous oxide and perfluorocarbons, in addition to carbon dioxide;
  • Recognising, nonetheless, the limits of the ETS insofar as only 45% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are covered by the quota system within the EU;
  • Concerned that the non-ETS sectors represent 55% of total domestic EU emissions and represent fields such as transport (except aviation), buildings, agriculture, non-ETS industry and waste;
  • Deeply concerned that some EU actors may relocate outside of the Union to avoid having to reduce their emissions, thus producing carbon leakage and causing high social and environmental damage;
  • Further recognizes the establishment of the Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR) as a complementary measure to control the emissions of the abovementioned non-ETS sectors;
  • Concerned that the ESR is not ambitious enough to achieve the climate change mitigation objectives set in the Paris Agreement;
  • Recognising the potential massive inequalities within the States and between the states which can be further caused by climate change;
  • Acknowledging, therefore, that climate change will challenge social equity and that we need to prevent deep social fractures from occurring, as already happened during the last financial and economic crises, whose repercussions have not been completely solved;
  • Affirming the need for a radical change in order to leave to future generations and to all living beings a more equal society and that without quick and sufficiently ambitious action today, adapting to these impacts in the future will be more difficult and costly;
  • Affirming the centrality of the European Parliament and the European Commission in implementing a meaningful and substantial ecological transition to guarantee social and environmental sustainability for future generations in Europe and in the world;
  • Expressing worry over the disproportionate impact on indigenous peoples and their livelihoods of climate change and recognising their role, solutions and traditional knowledge in mitigating the climate change and further environmental damage;
  • Noting with disappointment the limits of the current European institutional setup in tackling critical issues such as climate change and environment protection, particularly considering the European Council, where member states can easily block ambitious action due to decisions being taken unanimously;
  • Expressing its support for the European Green Deal to tackle climate and environmental-related challenges toward a green transition which represents an important step in the consolidation of the role of the European Union as a model for sustainability in the world;
  • Deeply disappointed at the same time by the inadequate legislation by the EU and particularly its Member States to underline the ambitions of the European Green Deal and its strategies, e.g. the insufficient CAP reform, which is not in line with the Farm-to-Fork strategy and the Paris Agreement;
  • Welcoming the Commission’s proposal for a revision of the Energy Taxation Directive, which had remained unchanged since 2003, aiming at aligning the taxation of energy products with EU energy and climate policies, promoting clean technologies, removing outdated exemptions and reducing rates that encourage the use of fossil fuels;
  • Recognising that it is the EU’s global responsibility to be a credible partner in working towards achieving the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which includes environmental goals;
  • Firmly believing that the only way to tackle the power of the big non-political actors, such as multinational companies, which keep causing damage to the planet, making the poorest countries pay the price, is to build a united and democratic Europe and, in the long run, democratic institutions on the global level;
  • Deeply concerned by the risk of greenwashing in public policies and in the private sector and thus welcoming the revision of the Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD), called the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), which will increase the trustworthiness, comparability and quality of non-financial figures and reporting on a cross-European level as well as the extent of non-financial reporting in compliance with the proposed EU Taxonomy;
  • Deeply concerned that global greenhouse gas emissions are still rising steadily.

JEF Europe, therefore,

On the European level:

  1. Stresses the urgent need of implementing a net-zero emission economy in the European Union with the aim to completely eliminate the use of non-renewable energy sources and to become a global leader in promoting policies aligned with the Paris Agreement and other international laws on the protection of the climate and the environment;
  2. Calls for all European institutions and Member State authorities to promote “green mainstreaming” by integrating the “green economy thinking” into all policies and measures including, but not limited to, urban planning, green infrastructure, transport and energy infrastructure, agriculture, waste management, product design, education and research;
  3. Demands that a part of the EU budget should be dedicated to funding a just ecological transition to a sustainable economy, to make sure that its costs are not placed on the most vulnerable regions, sectors and citizens and adequate resources are accessible to tackle energy poverty;
  4. Further asks for the enlargement of the European Globalization Adjustment Fund, which should be more clearly addressed to environmental issues, in addition to supporting workers laid off following the relocation decisions of companies located in the EU, to protect the workers of the sectors which will be reconverted, thus enforcing its application and effectiveness;
  5. Calls for the EU to set up a more ambitious plan to reduce emissions, in line – at a minimum – with the commitments of the Paris agreement, and that this plan should include:
    • A mix of a quantity-based and price-based instruments;
    • The implementation of the proposal put forward in the “Fit for 55” Communication, in order to achieve a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, establishing, from 2026, a new Emissions Trading System (ETS) for the distribution of fuels for road transport and for the heating of buildings and extending, in the period 2023-2025, the current ETS also to the maritime sector and aviation;
    • Address known issues with the current ETS that undermine its purpose, such as inadequate monitoring of and standards for carbon offset schemes leading to excessively cheap carbon prices, boosting the baseline carbon emission estimates that lead to greater initial governmental allocation of carbon permits, and the unbalanced geographic distribution of carbon emissions vs offset savings;
    • The introduction of a carbon price, in addition to imposing a Border Tax Adjustment on imports from countries that do not adopt a carbon pricing system (equal to the price imposed on European production, to avoid incompatibility with WTO rules), in order not to obtain additional revenue, but rather to launch a profound reform of the public finance structure, both in terms of revenues and expenditures, oriented towards a carbon-free and socially just economy;
    • Include a requirement that every instrument applying to EU actors should have a counterpart applying to non-EU actors operating in the Single Market, coming from countries that do not apply a carbon price, in order to minimize carbon leakage and “ETS- or carbon tax-avoidance” by EU actors;
  1. Emphasizes the role of cities in achieving a carbon-neutral economy, by rethinking the structure of urban areas in the perspective of a city organized in neighborhoods where the main services could be reached on foot or by bicycle, by improving energy consumption in public spaces, and by increasing recycling of resources within cities;
  2. Underlines that in this perspective the European fiscal system should be reformed by introducing new own resources, starting from the revenue of the sale of permits in the framework of the ETS, to fund an enlarged EU budget, but at the same time providing more financial means to the cities in a framework of fiscal federalism;
  1. Proposes to impose an climate instrument on imports to the EU of agricultural goods that result in deforestation, such as palm oil, soy and red meat, based on direct land-use change emissions, to support development efforts, the WTO exemption for goods from Least Developed Countries should be maintained;
  1. Calls for a strict application of Art.37, IV of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the legal recognition of crimes against the environment (ecocide) in the European legal system;
  1. Demands that all public investments in the EU must become green procurement, investing in eco-innovation and new technologies thus creating a first-mover advantage for EU businesses in the fields of energy efficiency and renewable energy;
  1. Welcoming the proposed EU taxonomy on sustainable investment, but worried about the watered-down wording on what is considered sustainable energy investment to please member states instead of ensuring a full transition to renewable energy production;
  1. Expects the EU to strengthen its work to protect fragile ecosystems and to work through international environmental agreements such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and its full implementation by the Member States and the EU to increase the ambitions of conservation targets for the next period from 2021;
  1. Stresses the need for a strong climate perspective in the Common Agricultural Policy, by finding instruments to promote more environmentally sustainable food production, consumption and land usage;
  1. Calls for the EU and the Member States to regulate in favor of citizens having access to information on the climate impact of consumption and make it easier for consumers to choose climate-friendly products and services;
  1. Firmly believes that Nature-Based Solutions should be prioritized in a European climate strategy for 2050, recognizing the vitality of protecting nature for achieving ecological resilience;
  1. Argues that combating climate change must become one of the main drivers of the EU’s trade strategy and that greener trade agreements can be a vehicle for stronger climate action worldwide, while avoiding a race to the bottom;
  1. Insists that strict climate and environmental conditions are included as demands in any current and future trade negotiations made between the EU and third parties, that these are duly enforced and if breached will result in effective sanctions;
  1. Highlights the importance for the EU and Members States to coordinate and prepare for extreme weather events and take all preparations for a coordinated approach to improve our collective European resilience to climate-related disasters;
  1. Stresses the need to bring a democratic institutional perspective in the narrative of the protests against climate change, because the only way to achieve results is to ask also for democratic institutions capable of acting effectively, going beyond vetoes and watered-down compromises;
  1. Reminds of the need to ensure that, in all consultations, participatory fora and expert panels, the voices of civil society, younger and future generations and representatives of minorities are heard as important stakeholders of today and future;
  1. Reaffirms that to tackle such an important issue as climate change, it is necessary to build a real European Government, able to act on the internal regulations and promote the green policies among other international actors.

On the global level:

  1. Calls on the EU and its Member States to take up a leading role and enact ambitious environmental policies as a part of achieving the SDGs;
  2. Firmly demands that the EU champions the fight for the recognition of crimes against the environment in international law;
  3. Recommends to fully comply with the conclusions of the Sixth European Union – African Union Summit: A Joint Vision for 2030, in particular to implement the envisaged new partnership for achieving the goals of the European Green Deal and AU Agenda 2063, exploiting the Africa-Europe Investment Package of at least EUR 150 billion that will boost large scale sustainable investments, with due consideration to the priorities and needs of the African countries, including support for an energy transition that is fair, just and equitable;
  4. Calls on the EU to increasingly support developing countries in their green transition and in mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change;
  5. Firmly believes in a necessary reform of the multilateral institutions in a federal way, possibly also within the UN, on the basis of the principles of subsidiarity, shared democratic rules, and the rule of law, with the ambition of creating a World Parliament and Government to address climate and environmental challenges on a global level;
  6. Urges to include, in the reform of multilateral institutions, the creation of an International Court having competence over transnational environmental crimes;
  7. Urges to develop a common strategy among all countries based on solidarity, the creation of eco-taxes in order to avoid fiscal competition among developing countries, and/or the creation of a fund to collect financial resources from developed countries to be allocated for sustainable development on a global scale;
  8. Calls on the EU member states to allocate promised funds for climate mitigation and climate adaptation under the Green Climate Fund that was established under the framework of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change;
  9. Suggests for the EU and European countries to increase the efforts in climate diplomacy by training international staff in climate matters, and by building diplomatic alliances to make it harder for other global actors to invest in fossil fuels abroad;
  10. Calls on the European Commission and European Countries to take initiative in modernizing the Energy Charter Treaty which complicates reforming climate policies by unfairly protecting investments into fossil fuel energies and consider withdrawal in case reform is not possible.

[1] https://www.econstatement.org/

[2] https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/