A few days ahead of the COP27 meeting in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, from 6 to 18 November, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) adopted a resolution on ''Jointly tackling an existential threat: social partners and civil society for implementation of ambitious climate action'' at its October plenary. The message of the European organised civil society is clear: we need the EU institutions and the EU Member States to maintain their leadership role and step-up their climate ambition, regardless of what other regions do.
A clear majority of Europeans – 70 percent – are alarmed by climate change, and almost three-quarters believe they need to do more personally to tackle it by contributing to the green transition, according to the Eurobarometer. This is the message that the EESC is sharing with EU Institutions and Member States, and that its delegation of six EESC Members and one youth representative will deliver in Sharm El-Sheikh. The EESC calls on all stakeholders involved to step up climate ambition in accordance with the latest scientific recommendations. The EESC will be represented by the rapporteurs of the resolution: Peter Schmidt, Isabel Caño Aguilar, Sandra Parthie, Josep Puxeu Rocamora, Neža Repanšek, Lutz Ribbe and Sophia Wiegand, as the youth representative.
Climate change is one of the biggest challenges faced by humanity in this century. Its impact will not start with our children but already with ourselves, changing dramatically the way we live, said Cillian Lohan, EESC vice-president for communication and climate activist. Of course, we know that the European Union is doing more than any other region, as the European Green Deal and the Fit for 55 package demonstrate. But as the home of European civil society, we need to press the European Commission and the EU Member States to maintain their leadership role and convince our global partners to follow Europe's example.
While EU citizens stress that the green transition should not leave anyone behind, the EESC is seeking more explicit language on the social dimension of climate change and the just transition in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiation: we need a deal that is both green and social.
Pegah Moulana, advocacy manager at Youth and Environment Europe, expressed her satisfaction that a youth representative had been included in the EESC delegation to attend the COP27: We know that democracy is flourishing when young people have the confidence to speak up, and older people have the confidence to give them the platform.
The EESC places a particular focus on the role of civil society – employers, trade unions and NGOs – in accelerating climate action, and is convinced that an intergenerational alliance is key to the fight.
The EESC is also calling for developed countries to increase their total climate finance contributions, with equal emphasis on financing mitigation and adaptation in developing countries. "Leaving no one behind" implies looking beyond borders, especially to Africa, where the COP will take place this year.
In February 2022, the EESC established, for the first time, an ad hoc group on the Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP) in order to develop a more strategic, inclusive and permanent EESC engagement in the UNFCCC process.
The ad hoc group aims to enhance the Committee's participation in the annual COP meetings, while ensuring continuity and the strategic engagement of all relevant EESC bodies in the process. The creation of this ad hoc group reflects the EESC's continuous engagement in climate action throughout the year, beyond its engagement in the UNFCCC process and its help in delivering more significant contributions to the EU 2050 climate-neutrality objective.