Social justice and climate action are two pieces of the same puzzle – EURACTIV.com
The politicians present the Porto social summit this week must u“Understand that social justice and climate action go hand in hand and are essential to avoid the loss of a generation,” write Tea Jarc and Adélaïde Charlier.
Tea Jarc is chairman of the Youth Committee of the European Trade Union Confederation. Adélaïde Charlier is a young climate activist.
COVID-19 marked our young adulthood. We’ll come back and see months trapped at home, jobs lost, education disrupted, travel banned, grief. It changed the course of our teenage years and young adulthood so much that it would be easy to focus on it forever.
But we have no choice but to look to the future.
A century ago, young Europeans were the first lost generation. Millions of lives have been lost in war or marred by trauma for decades. Now we risk being the next lost generation – with our first lives disrupted by COVID-19 and climate degradation making our adulthood more difficult than we can even imagine.
We are part of a generation that is growing up seeing forests burn, waters rise, glaciers collapse, heat waves kill. We know that unless we transform the way we live, we will face even worse in the future. That’s why a recent survey of 22,000 young Europeans found climate change and environmental degradation to be of greater concern than the spread of infectious diseases – even in the midst of a pandemic.
We each come from different traditions. In Europe, the climate movement has historically existed alongside movements for social equality – like two railroad tracks, separate but moving in the same direction.
Now, in the face of huge threats, it’s time to recognize that these movements are converging. The powerful youth climate movement, led by Greta Thunberg, and the labor movement already speak the same language.
Both recognize that we will not succeed in stabilizing our climate without transforming our economy. In this transition, workers need to be treated fairly and have a social safety net to catch them. And we will not live in a just world if we allow rising temperatures to destroy the lives and livelihoods of the world’s poorest people, which most affect climate change.
Politicians must take the lead and look to the future. They are under constant pressure from people who try to make us believe that our struggles are opposed. But the truth is, social justice and climate action are two sides of the same coin. Viewing them as two separate things is a relic of the past – and policymakers cannot be blind to this.
This summer will be decisive. In July, the EU will present its Fit for 55 program, explaining its plan to cut emissions by more than half by 2030 – which is only a first step in bringing its climate targets closer to scientific recommendations, but not yet enough ambitious to face it. the climate crisis.
This will be the first test for our politicians: can they weigh in on decisions to transition away from fossil fuels, create a just transition, and create high-paying, quality jobs and good lives for citizens across the country? Europe?
There are so many ways to do it. Imagine that instead of just watching youth unemployment skyrocket, we steer young people into skilled trades while renovating polluting buildings, updating them with modern technology. Imagine investing in renewable power plants in areas where communities depend on precarious coal mining jobs and training workers and creating thousands of quality jobs and new infrastructure that gives hope to cities left behind. account.
The key first step to achieving this is the Porto Social Summit this week – where all eyes will be on European leaders acting on the European Pillar of Social Rights. They will need to engage in social security policies that will make our transition to a carbon neutral society a success.
How to create jobs in the hardest hit areas of Europe? What should a social safety net look like in a world where climate disasters will hit more of our lives? And what steps will they need to take immediately to kick start the recovery and tackle social justice and climate change?
Stimulus packages are a golden opportunity for national governments to bring these elements together. The leaders have the political license to invest huge sums of money, making it a unique moment in a career to create a green, fair and inclusive recovery for citizens who risk being disappointed with the European project.
If they fail, they will struggle to cope with the consequences – because social justice drives climate action and climate action drives social justice. What good is an emissions reduction plan if we don’t invest in workers who roll up their sleeves and build the technology of the future? What good is the rise in GDP and the growing fortunes of a few individuals if it puts humanity at stake? It is a time when political reputations are won or lost.
Ten years from now, will we still be divided by the propaganda of fossil fuel lobbyists convincing politicians that saving jobs can only come from pollution of the planet? Or will a new generation of workers see their regions revived with new, quality jobs in industries that help humans and the planet thrive?
We will continue to move forward, to lead the way – and we will monitor every step the politicians take. It is now up to them to decide whether they will join a generation of young people who understand: climate action and social justice are two sides of the same coin.