The EESC welcomes the decisions of COP 21 in Paris but it sees two challenges linked with it. First, the emissions reduction targets submitted by the individual Member States (INDCs) do not correlate with the results achieved in Paris. Second, despite some limited progress, the importance of civil society has not been sufficiently taken into consideration. Civil society actors currently face significant obstacles when they wish to initiate and implement measures to counteract climate change. Regulatory guidelines can sometimes even systematically prevent civil society climate action. Thus civil society actors all too often find that there is no framework for action that would allow them to implement their plans for "bottom-up climate action". Another factor is that they cannot finance their projects, although in fact sufficient investment resources are most likely available.
As an immediate response to the decisions made in Paris, the EESC therefore proposes a coalition of politics, administration and civil society. The coalition's mission is to minimise obstacles standing in the way of civil society climate action by:
- promoting bottom-up climate action and breathing new life into the principle "think global, act local";
- taking account of the broad spectrum of potential civil society climate strategies, while not losing sight of the variety and broad range of civil society actors;
- developing a form of multi-level governance that facilitates civil society climate action rather than hindering it.
The coalition must take action at various political levels. Essentially, the aim is to implement the following five tasks:
- developing an understanding of the climate strategies civil society actors want to, can, could/should and are permitted to carry out – especially at local and regional level;
- identifying and overcoming structural obstacles;
- disseminating success stories across Europe;
- specifying conditions and factors for success, primarily at national level;
- developing a policy framework to allow civil society climate action to be successfully implemented at all levels.
The coalition of politics and civil society should attain another goal supported by the EESC: the need for fair change in the world of work to favour sustainability, with the structural participation of trade unions and employees' associations.