Europe needs the courage to change from carbon-based energy generation
COP21 was a success, as it resulted in an ambitious, universal framework. But for this success to continue, we will need to change the way we organise our energy dependent economies. Civil society can play a key role in bringing about this change. In terms of energy, we need to facilitate decarbonisation. The burden of transition from a carbon dependent society must be shared equally and fairly, and where necessary also accompanied by social plans. The transition will also bring opportunities for the EU economy and we should seize them.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) discussed the outcome of COP21 and the road ahead at its 513th EESC plenary. "We all have the responsibility to protect our planet and therefore we have to stop polluting", said President Dassis at the outset of the meeting, "however, we also have to keep in mind that polluting industry is providing thousands of jobs and income for families, therefore the transition process has to be accompanied by a social plan."
The transition process to a low or zero carbon economy requires high investments and changes in the labour market. To tackle these challenges it needs the EU's common efforts, including implementing measures to protect those exposed to the social impact of change, in particular job losses. In the middle and long run, however the goals, outlined by the Commission – energy security, job creation and nature protection – will be beneficial to the whole of the EU. As the cost of inaction is higher than the cost of the necessary changes, the EU should lead the way in innovation in the world and take leadership in developing green technologies which will create new quality jobs.
Security for Europe
Energy policy is a fundamental part of security policy, and as Europe becomes more independent of fossil fuels, the more it can protect itself against price fluctuations, black-outs, or other events which could interrupt or delay delivery. The EESC not only strongly advocates the European Energy Union but also a European Energy Dialogue to ensure that civil society will further drive an EU-wide transition to a low-carbon economy and society.
Civil Society in the driving seat for economic change
The role of citizens and civil society at large will be more important than ever. The EESC will continue to put pressure on governments to fulfil their commitments and mobilise non-state actors to work together by delivering concrete solutions in businesses, workplaces, organisations, cities, regions and communities. The full and immediate involvement of citizens is crucial and the EESC will play its role in helping to achieve this.