Speech on the 'Fit for 55 package: building a resilient and sustainable framework for the EU's future' by President Séamus Boland

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EESC plenary debate with Kadri Simson, Commissioner for Energy

9 December 2021

Dear Commissioner Simson,

Welcome and thank you for being with us today.

The European Green Deal and the 'Fit for 55' package are both necessary and urgent. Climate Change is already upon us and there is nowhere left to hide. Regular severe floods, fires, droughts and hurricanes. This is what the world looks like at 1.1 to 1.3° Celsius warmer than when the steam engine was invented.

Today, it is impossible to ignore the impact of Climate Change on our daily lives. Our planet's future is very much under threat and there is no choice but to urgently deliver on our common promises.

Without doubt, the EU's 'Fit for 55' package will affect the lives of every European citizen. What is crucial, is for the climate transition to also be a just transition. Leaving nobody behind, but rather informing, involving and assisting vulnerable consumers and vulnerable citizens.

Ultimately, access to energy is a right. And the energy transition cannot be the cause of energy poverty. Recent exponential increases in the price of energy have further exposed the vulnerabilities of many Europeans, bringing energy poverty squarely within political domain.

In this context, the new EU Social Climate Fund to tackle energy poverty is a welcome step. Incentives for consumers to renovate smartly and sustainably must also be delivered, in tandem with strategies such as the EC's Renovation Wave.

Dear Commissioner, before closing, I would like to say a few words on the role of European civil society in the Fit for 55 package.

It is my firm belief that civil society organisations want to be and must be allowed to be at the centre of the entire process. Every socio-economic sector of civil society must be empowered to lead, design and implement the transition towards reducing net greenhouse gas emissions.

Only civil society has both creativity and determination to imagine this sustainable, resilient and fairer world. It is civil society which has a pivotal role in driving and maintaining the momentum on climate mitigation and adaptation among communities and citizens. It is these same actors who will have the tenacity to invest in, accelerate and embrace change with bottom-up initiatives which respect the opinions and the rights of local people.

However, we can only be able to embark on this new world by changing perceptions and attitudes. By anchoring climate mitigation and adaptation firmly within our European values and identity. Delivering on Climate Change must become a positive European narrative. A narrative which embraces and finds the balance between environmental sustainability, prosperity, innovation, social inclusion and democratic participation.

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Speech by Séamus Boland