Climate and energy should be top political priorities

Unions have team up with environmentalists to call for more European action on climate change and energy security.

The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and Platform of European Social NGOs (Social Platform) have welcomed the EU's proposed energy and climate package, but say that the EU needs to look at social, employment and environmental objectives as parts of the same whole rather than considering each in isolation.

The unions and NGOs agree that fighting climate change and energy security are political priorities for Europe but argue that well designed climate and energy policies have the potential to reduce energy poverty and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

Member states must prioritise energy efficiency investments for low-income households and offer good quality work and training programmes to make the most of fresh market opportunities, they argue.

Despite showing a publicly united front, however, each of the organisations continued to push hard on its own agenda.

"We welcome the proposed energy and climate proposals as a good starting point for enhancing the EU's continuing global environmental leadership," said EEB secretary general John Hontelez.

"However, the 20% target for reducing emissions is insufficient. Industrialised countries will need cuts of between 25% and 40% by 2020 to halt dramatic global warming."

John Monks, ETUC general secretary said: "The European Council must respond decisively if other industrialised countries refuse to join the fight against climate change, and it must take steps to protect EU-based industry from unfair competition. We therefore support the adoption of border tax adjustments."

"Rising energy prices must not be allowed to threaten social cohesion and social inclusion," added Social Platform president Fintan Farrell.

"Universal and affordable access to basic energy supply must be offered to everyone living in Europe.

"Investment in public transport and in green social housing must play a key role in decreasing energy consumption and at the same time promote people's well being and reinforce local communities."

Sam Bond



Waste & resource management
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