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CAN Europe Manifesto for a Fossil-Free, Socially Just, and Climate-Neutral Union

The Climate Action Network Europe, the largest coalition of climate non-profit organisations on the continent, created a manifesto for the upcoming European elections (taking place already in June 2024) - read what we think, should be the priorities for politicians around Europe:


Scale up action to deal with the Climate Emergency


Deliver a Climate Emergency Package to ramp up climate action before 2030, including proposals to allow upward revisions of the 2025-2030 ambition of the EU climate and energy legislative framework in order to enable the EU to move substantially beyond its current climate targets and achieve at least -65% gross (-76% net) emission reductions by 2030. Deep and rapid emission cuts this decade are critical to avoid cataclysmic climate impacts and keep the 1.5°C target of the Paris Agreement attainable. The EU’s current targeted level of ambition for 2030 remains insufficient and does not reflect its fair contribution to the fight against the climate crisis.


Bring forward the EU’s climate neutrality target and commit to achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040 at the latest, with at least 92% gross emission cuts. In light of the advice of the European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change (ESABCC) and the Paris Agreement’s equity principles, the EU as a major historic emitter and industrialised economy bears a higher responsibility than the global average in the fight against the climate emergency. The EU should commit to achieving climate neutrality by 2040 at the latest and set climate targets aligned with the 5-year UNFCCC common timeframes agreed at the Glasgow COP, including for 2035. The Commission should make clear in their proposal for a 2040 target how the EU will close the eventual gap between a fair EU GHG budget that meets its responsibilities and a domestic target that takes into account an ambitious emissions pathway. This gap should be closed through additional mitigation measures in the EU and new and additional financial support to developing countries. This support should not result in funds being diverted from climate change adaptation and loss and damage commitments.


Protect, restore and enhance Europe’s natural carbon sinks, in particular through dedicated and immediate action to revitalise Europe’s forests, wetlands, peatlands and agricultural soils at a much larger scale and pace and ensure net removals are additional to – and not used to offset – urgently needed emissions reductions in other sectors. Making Europe’s natural sinks more resilient will not only constitute a key pillar in the EU’s fight against the climate crisis, but is also essential in protecting and restoring Europe’s biodiversity. Sufficient amounts of financing must result in significantly restoring nature across the EU.


Step up adaptation to climate change at EU level. Europe is already facing catastrophic consequences of climate change and needs to prepare for adaptation. A binding European law on planned, ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change, grounded in climate justice, is needed. Implementing agro-ecological practices to reduce water consumption and soil degradation in the agricultural sector, greening cities, eliminating concrete surfaces to combat heat islands, and increasing resources dedicated to fire risk management are all effective long-term adaptation measures, which can help to reduce social inequalities.


Ensure the EU leads by example for climate justice internationally. Europe needs to deliver on its obligations to the Global South with special attention to least developed countries and small island developing states. The EU should fully honour commitments to providing new and additional international climate finance for mitigation and adaptation, including the collective doubling of adaptation finance by 2025 (based on 2019 levels) in line with its fair share. Public finance contributions should be the focus, with grants and highly concessional finance for mitigation and grants for adaptation prioritised. The EU should also make multi-year pledges at a scale of billions of USD to the new Loss and Damage Fund, and find new revenues from equitable global, EU and national taxes and levies which make big polluters pay for climate damages.Urgent action is needed on debt and tax justice, through significant reform of the IMF and World Bank, debt cancellation, and a UN Tax Convention, to give countries the fiscal space they need for climate and development action. The EU should endorse an inclusive and feminist climate policy as a cornerstone of EU external action and diplomacy. A just approach to international climate action also means making sure its trade policy is supporting rather than contradicting climate and development objectives with trade, financing and investments built around development objectives rather than extraction of raw materials.


Deliver a Fossil-Free, 100% renewable based energy system


End the fossil fuel era once and for all. Adopt binding phase-out dates and trajectories to seal the end of the use of coal (by 2030 at the latest), fossil gas (by 2035 at the latest) and fossil oil (by 2040 at the latest). This also necessitates the phase-out of unsustainable and costly technologies such as nuclear power. Ending the reliance on fossil fuels and uranium, which are largely imported, is essential to strengthen the EU’s energy resilience, strategic autonomy and security. Put an immediate end to fossil fuel subsidies in a socially just manner and stop fossil infrastructure expansion, including for liquefied gas. End the fossil fuel industry’s excessive weight on EU and Member States’ decision-making processes and stop giving the fossil gas industry another lifeline through ill-considered and inappropriate support for hydrogen. Support for hydrogen should be targeted at hard to electrify sectors only and be produced from additional renewable energy sources. Ensure the EU endorses and supports an international Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.


Build a 100% renewable energy system by 2040 with people and nature at its heart. Speed and scale up the deployment of sustainable renewable energy such as wind and solar, and necessary infrastructure, while avoiding new hydropower plants and sources of bioenergy that increase emissions compared to fossil fuels, and ensure renewables provide a share of at least 50% of the EU’s energy mix by 2030. Make sure the energy market is strong, resilient, flexible, and people-centred maximising the uptake of variable renewables, demand-side flexibility and electrification, providing affordable energy for all. Empower consumers (households, energy communities, businesses, and small and medium-sized industry) to be on top of their energy production and consumption and optimise the energy demand/supply, fully tapping into the huge benefits in terms of costs, raw material use and land savings from avoiding new infrastructure. Put in place strong support for flexibility measures such as demand side response and storage to ensure the energy system can deal with increasing supply of variable renewable energy. Since local authorities are a key actor in the deployment of renewable energy, European funding needs to be dedicated to local engineering in local authorities and the structures that support them, especially for more human resources and skills.


Fully tap into Europe’s energy savings potential and adopt EU-wide and national targets to cut energy consumption in half by 2040. Accelerate the uptake of energy efficiency and sufficiency measures in all sectors of the economy and mobilise investments at national, regional and local level to ensure at least 20% energy savings by 2030. Enable a tripling of the renovation rate and a large-scale roll-out of deep renovation for all occupants, a transport modal shift from inefficient aviation to rail and light efficient vehicles, more electric vehicles and the use of more efficient appliances. It will require building on lessons learned to enable structural change and further drastic changes in current production and consumption patterns, including a focus on sufficiency, repair, circularity, recycling, cutting industrial resource use and primary energy demand. Energy savings are key for making Europe independent from energy imports, while helping the economy, leading to more jobs, reducing energy waste, greenhouse gas emissions and energy bills.


Reorient the economy to deliver a socio-ecological transformation within planetary boundaries


Advance the just transformation and make the European Green Deal the engine for new jobs. Support local communities of regions dependent on coal and carbon-intensive industries in decline with funds, tools and know-how so they can become prosperous, climate-neutrality oriented and resilient to socio-economic effects of the change. The process needs to be implemented in a transparent and participatory manner, in cooperation with citizens and stakeholders, with the full involvement of trade unions. The European Commission should issue targets and recommendations for qualification and employment in climate-friendly and circular-economy sectors. The Commission and Member States should draw up projections of the upcoming transformation at the regional level, identify potentials for new value-added and employment clusters and assess existing education and training needs. Education and training should be consistently geared towards climate-friendly employment, for example through retraining from automotive to recharging infrastructure, from the aviation to the rail industry, training programmes for the refurbishment of residential buildings, installation of heat pumps and solar panels or employment in the circular economy.


Ensure a sustainable and fair natural resources management within and beyond the EU, effectively tackling over-production and over-consumption. Bring back Europe’s resource consumption within planetary boundaries and setting ambitious and binding targets to reduce the EU’s material footprint and achieve a fully circular economic model throughout all sectors. Ensure due diligence for social, environmental and human rights impacts in critical mineral supply chains, particularly in the Global South.


Enhance social protection and cohesion through a redistributive agenda based on the polluter pays principle. Make sure that the costs and benefits of the transition are borne and shared equitably across society, with a greener fiscal system based on the principle that the polluter pays for the full societal harm caused as well as mechanisms to redistribute the costs of the transition fairly. For the transport sector, this entails taxing environmentally harmful fuels at the highest rate in a socially just manner and fully recycling revenues to further enhance climate action, in particular to make sustainable mobility affordable for low income households and massively invest into accelerated expansion of the European rail network. In the agricultural sector, this requires a complete overhaul of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) towards a system where subsidies are strictly linked to sustainable agricultural practices, accelerating an agroecological transition away from industrial agriculture with reduced industrial livestock farming. Increase social resilience and strengthen the increase of dedicated funds enhancing social cohesion and fighting energy poverty, such as the Social Climate Fund, public goods and services for all through policies that enhance the fair redistribution of wealth and resources, sustainability, protection of biodiversity, gender responsiveness, racial equity and societal wellbeing.


Align financial flows with the fight against the climate and biodiversity crises. The EU should exclude any possibility of using EU funds for new fossil fuel investments and infrastructure projects in Europe and internationally which increase fossil fuel use. This includes immediately closing all the loopholes that remain in several large EU funding instruments including the Recovery and Resilience Facility and cohesion policy funds and permanently excluding all fossil fuel finance from 2025 onwards. Reform the EU public debt and deficit rules and establish a new EU fund for climate and just transformation to enable the needed investments in the just and green transition. Revise the EU taxonomy to exclude nuclear and gas from green labelling, and regulate private finance to maximise its support to the green transition.


Strengthen democracy and civic participation


Strengthen, protect, resource and support civil society and youth organisations, independent science and research and media across Europe. Protect and expand civic spaces at EU, national and local levels through effective, transparent and timely public participation in policy-making, implementation and expansion of citizens’ assemblies and other innovative forms of civic participation at all levels, and firm action against threats or breaches of the rule of law. Ensure meaningful youth participation in formal policy processes and enable young people to design their own future through supporting youth-led initiatives. Strengthen the role of local authorities, citizens and community-led grassroots initiatives in EU decision-making processes and resource them adequately as they are at the forefront of the action against climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.


Guarantee current and future generations’ fundamental rights to a healthy environment, to enjoy a life with dignity and environmental protection. Strengthen citizens’ rights to access to justice and improve compliance with environmental and climate obligations at national, EU and international level. Facilitate litigation to hold accountable governments, business and financial institutions for their ongoing investments in fossil fuels and carbon intensive industries and the related human rights effects that such investments can provoke.

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