PLENARY SPEECH: A stable climate is not just a nice thing to have!

Ska Keller, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group.

– Mr President, the Heads of State and Government are going to meet in Brussels right after the Madrid climate summit. I hope they take some of the Madrid spirit along with them, because I’m sure they will have heard a lot of urgency from other governments of small island states, of coastal states and of countries and continents that are not as wealthy and prosperous as the European Union overall. So, I hope they take along that urgency and then put it and convert it into some real action, because after Madrid the real action has to start.

As it stands right now, not a single one of the European Union Member States has submitted a national greenhouse gas reduction plan that would be adequate or in any way sufficient in order to reach the Paris Agreement targets. But the EU targets are also far from sufficient. In fact, they were agreed in 2014, so before the Paris summit. Clearly, we need to step up the game because, right now, Europe does not lead the game. We are looking elsewhere; we are telling other countries that they should do something. But that doesn’t work. We need to act ourselves; we cannot wait for others to act.

A stable climate is not just a nice thing to have, it’s absolutely vital in order to have a liveable planet for the younger generation and also for future generations. It’s vital for security and for peace worldwide. And also, if we’re lagging behind, as we’re doing right now, we’re also losing out on technologies, on climate jobs that, right now, our competitors elsewhere in the world are developing.

It is time to act and the Member States need to finally agree on the climate neutrality target of 2050. But, let’s be clear, and let’s keep in mind that that is not a very ambitious target. We should actually do much more to follow the Finnish example and be more ambitious, because 2050 is really late. But having targets for some time in the future is anyway not enough; we need to have concrete measures right now. We need to make sure right now that we will, at some point, achieve and reach targets.

And what better way to use as a concrete measure our long term budget? This is where we decide where we put our money, and we should put our money where our mouth is. That means that we should have a Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) that invests in renewable energies and in ecological agriculture and not, as it is foreseen at present, in agricultural mass production and in fossil fuels. We need to change our priorities. If we don’t change where the money goes, then nothing will change in terms of the actual policies.

The EU has to play its fair part in a fair transition and that also needs resources for the European Union. Otherwise we have a lot of demands but not the resources to implement them. And that’s why we, the Greens, fully subscribe to the Parliament’s position of having at least 1.3% of the GNI as the overall amount.

But on the income side we also need to be sustainable. A plastics tax or a carbon border adjustment tax is not just a revenue; it can really be a means of how to shape policies and make sure that we have policies that protect the environment and support a fair transition. And of all of these elements, the European Council can, but also really should, deliver. Because in order to stay credible, the EU has to lead with ambitious targets and we have to deliver them at home. If not now, when? So, I wish the best of luck to the Finnish Presidency and really hope that all the groups here can contribute by urging governments to actually play their role and say yes to climate neutrality, yes to an ambitious MFF and not just continue with business as usual.

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