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 JEF Congress, Paris, October 26th, 2019

JEF Europe,

  • Recalling Art. 37 “Protection of the environment”, Title IV “Solidarity”, of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union;
  • Acknowledging the cross-border nature of the environment and the interdependence of environmental challenges with economic and social systems in a globalised world;
  • Alarmed that natural resources are being degraded by the unsustainable way in which socio-economic 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, which 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 report published in October 2018 on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °C.;
  • Recognising the insufficient impact of the latest and most critical intergovernmental meetings – such as the UN Climate Action Summit 2019, COP24, COP21, European Councils and the G20 – which despite clear outcomes and attainable objectives, remain non-binding and unenforceable on national governments;
  • Deeply concerned about the articulated system of anti-scientific disinformation developed by nationalist and extreme-right movements linked with ultra-conservative think tanks;
  • Looking positively at the international mobilisations against climate change mainly led by young people;
  • Welcoming the European Citizens Initiative “A price for carbon to fight climate change”;
  • 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);
  • Acknowledging that the EU has put in place a quantity scheme – the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) – to reduce emissions, and that this system is projected to reduce emissions by 21% in the period 2005-2020, and by 43% in the period 2005-2030, for the sectors it covers; 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, excluding sectors such as transport (except aviation), buildings, agriculture, non-ETS industry and waste. These non-ETS sectors account for almost 60% of total domestic EU emissions;
  • Deeply concerned that some EU actors may relocate outside of the Union to avoid reducing 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. However, its target will not achieve the necessary climate change mitigation, being still too weak and not in line with the objectives of the Paris Agreement;
  • Recognising the potential massive inequalities which can be further caused by climate change. In the future, it will be fundamental to ensure social equity in order to prevent deep social fractures 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; without drastic 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 a social and environmental sustainability for future generations in Europe and in the world;
  • Reaffirming the limits of the current European institutional setup in tackling critical issues such as climate change and environment protection. The Energy taxation framework remained unchanged since 2003 given the special legislative procedure with unanimity in the Council, thus failing to provide policy coherence between taxation and energy and climate policies and objectives;
  • Believing that the global dimension of the climate challenge as well as the international scale of polluting actors requires supranational solutions at the global level;
  • 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;

JEF Europe, therefore,

on the European level

  1. Stresses the urgent need of implementing a carbon-free economy in the European Union with the aim, in the long run, to completely eliminate the non-renewable energy sectors and to become a global leader in promoting policies aligned with the UN SDGs worldwide;
  2. Asks all European institutions 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 fund 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;
  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. Such plan should include:
    • A mix of a quantity-based and price-based instrument;
    • In the first instance, extending the EU ETS to sectors where it is critical to drastically reduce emissions, while not overburdening financially and administratively the EU, Member States and companies (e.g. other transport sectors, such as maritime transport);
    • Where an emission permit system is unviable for administrative or financial reasons, a tax on GHGs, starting with carbon dioxide, set at a level high enough to guarantee the respect – at a minimum – of the commitments under the Paris agreement;
    • That every instrument applying to EU actors should have a counterpart applying to non-EU actors operating in the Single Market, in order to minimise carbon leakage and “ETS- or carbon tax-avoidance” by EU actors;
    • 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;
  6. 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 in      the European legal system;
  7. 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;
  8. 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 to increase the ambitions of conservation targets for the next period from 2021;
  9. 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;
  10. Argues that greener trade agreements can be a vehicle for stronger climate action worldwide, if combating climate change becomes front and centre of the EU’s trade strategy. Trade must ensure international safeguards for the environment, not a race to the bottom;
  11. Calls on the parties of the EU-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to fully take in to account the social and environmental implications of the agreement, in particular with view to abating the rapid deforestation with its irreversible impacts taking place in the Amazon-region;
  12. 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 breach will result in effective sanctions;
  13. Stresses the need to bring a democratic institutional perspective in the narrative of movement of protests against climate change. This great youth movement risks in fact to lose strength and concreteness if it does not ask also for democratic institutions capable to act effectively, going beyond vetoes and watered-down compromises;
  14. Reaffirms that to tackle such an issue like climate change, it’s necessary to build a real European Government, able to act on the internal regulations and to spread the green policies to the 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. Calls on the EU to increasingly support developing countries in their green transition and in mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change;
  4. Firmly believes in a necessary reform of the multilateral institutions in a federal way, possibly also within the UN, on the base 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;
  5. Urges to include, in the reform of multilateral institutions, the creation of an International Court having competence over transnational environmental crimes;
  6. 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 the sustainable development on a global scale.

— Read the resolution —

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

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