On 5 December 2015, the Workers' Group of the EESC organised a conference in Paris on the margins of COP21 during which a study was presented on "Combating climate change: putting a price on carbon on the basis of economic and social criteria". This study was carried out by Syndex experts at the request of the Workers' Group.
The study was introduced by Georges Dassis, President of the EESC, who insisted on the Committee's commitment to the inclusion of social aspects in climate policies. Isabel Caño, Vice-President of the Sustainable Development Observatory, presented a few points on just transition.
The price of carbon has become a central issue in the fight against climate change, as it is recognized as a major economic and financial instrument for decarbonising the economies and societies.
The aim of this study is to include the fight against social equality in the carbon price issue as well as the concept of "just transition", in order to shift towards a low carbon economy and society. The study also aims to replace the current artificial price of carbon by a socially responsible one. All these issues are extremely important for the Workers' Group.
Established in a direct or indirect manner, explicitly or implicitly, the price of carbon is incorporated in very different ways in the climate policies of the different European countries, but carbon taxes that affect first and foremost jobs and the purchasing power of the vulnerable households are the predominant factor. Such policies have deflationary effects on economic growth and cause an increase in social inequalities in many European countries. This is why it is necessary to set compensation mechanisms to alleviate those effects. However, the search for new sources of revenue and employment seems to be the most adequate answer that offers a partial alternative to taxation, to restore a fair low-carbon growth in Europe.
In other words, it is necessary to lay the groundwork to shift from a carbon price designed and applied solely as an environmental policy instrument to a price shaped by social and economic criteria.
For the Workers' Group it is also unacceptable and unjustifiable that in the EU environmentally harmful activities are still subsidised directly by public budgets and indirectly as "external costs", and it condemns the insufficient implementation of the polluter pays principle. These subsidies distort market signals and hinder the transition to a low carbon and resource efficient economy.