10th Dec 2023


EU 'talks the talk, but doesn't walk the walk' on climate

  • The EU green taxonomy has become an 'instrument of propaganda, skewed by fossil-fuel lobbies pressure' (Photo: Fridays4Future)
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Dear president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and Commission executive vice-president Frans Timmermans,

[cc: commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis, commissioner Kadri Simson, commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius, commissioner Mairead McGuinness]

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  • 'We are gearing up for our 10th global climate strike this March' (Photo: Fridays4Future)

When we started our school strikes the European Union elections were approaching and you sweet-talked us and told us that you genuinely understood and shared our concerns.

As we are gearing up for our 10th global climate strike this March, we must admit we did see some changes: you have presented the Green Deal, talked of a Just Transition, and you even erected a huge banner on your building stating "Next Generation EU".

Unfortunately these changes are only rhetorical. Truth is you have co-opted our messages without putting them into practice. In the meantime, everything went on business as usual and the remaining carbon budget has gotten thinner and thinner.

You talked the talk - but you didn't walk the walk.

The only transition we saw was from business-as-usual to business-as-usual framed with bright words. So whereas your narrative change may vaguely show that there is growing awareness of the climate emergency, we cannot be satisfied with them. After all, the only thing worse than doing nothing is doing nothing and lying about it.

Right now, the major file on your table is that of the green taxonomy.

While its original goal was to provide clarity and objectivity on what can be scientifically considered sustainable, it has turned into a political battleground and instrument of propaganda, skewed by fossil-fuel lobbies' pressure. As such, your version of a taxonomy only exacerbates the problems it claims to fix.

By now you should have understood that we do not only fight for climate justice, we also fight against greenwashing. But we feel you are still missing a point about our strikes. They were not only an alarm about the worsening state of our life support systems but also one about our kidnapped democracy.

We felt betrayed on way too many occasions during your mandate and we are now writing to you to prevent this from happening again. Or at least, making clear that if you do not want to listen to the youth that you are pretending to act for, the youth will not standby and stand back.

Critiques about the taxonomy keep coming from right and left, even from the scientific platform you created ad-hoc.

According to the 2016 Inter-institutional Agreement on Better Law-Making, what you should do now is launch a public consultation. You are well aware that you are breaking your own rules by choosing to skip this stage and not to listen to civil society. We believe this is a worrying symptom of the alarming state of our beloved European democracy.

We cannot allow this, and we will do everything in our power to stop your greenwashing and foster our democracy. This will include legal actions such as filling an EU official petition procedure if you break your obligation of civil society involvement.

Do you really want to work for the Next Generation? Well, depicting that message in your building is not going to be enough. Stop talking about us, and start talking with us and acting for us.

Author bio

Chloé Mikolajczak is a climate justice activist, Adélaide Charlier is co-founder of Youth for Climate, Dominika Lasota is an activist at Fridays4Future Poland, Maro Pito, Sicily climate activist, Martina Comparelli is an activist at Fridays4Future Italy.


The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

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