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GNDE (Civil Society) ≠ GNE (Commission European) – Vive la différence!: Suggestions for changing behaviour

GNDE –Civil Society 

We have been asked why we “like” the GNDE. Many people have pointed out that they do not find specific “ecological” ideas there that show the path to be followed.

We will try to explain why we regard it as essential to refer to the GNDE.

As “lovers” of the soil we are ready to list the ways in which it can be protected and passed on in good condition. We can list particular methods and techniques, down to descriptions of the microscopic structures of clay and the positions of vacuums (infinitesimal spaces of air in the soil). But does this knowledge enable us to change the behaviour of individuals and the various people responsible politically and technically? The answer is no.

The same goes for the other problems related to climate change.

In pratice we can regard ourselves as Cassandras, ignored by all.

So what does the GNDE do that is important?

It creates the frame of reference in which the actions to protect nature and ecosystems must be inserted. It does it by starting from a number of basic concepts: a) bring the power to decide on everything that relates to the enviroment under public control (Green Public Work) describing how this might be financed and taking control and management away from the private sector; b) rebuilding the credibility of the EU by transforming the current complicated bureaucratic structure into a new identity capable of protecting the environment for the younger generations (EnU – Environmental Union); c) trying to establish a context of social justice, and thus of democracy and participation, which speaks to the least powerful, strengthening grassroots communities and inviting them to take part in decisionmaking for programmes and regulations.

If realized, this plan would allow concrete and swift action at the different levels of decisionmaking, from the global to the local. For example: to put the provisions of the SIP Forum’s draft law into practice, it would no longer be neccessary to wait until it becomes a national or European law. Local communities would be able to decide what to do and public bodies – using public money – would carry them out with the cooperation and oversight of the communities themselves.

We are not asserting that what the GNDE proposes is “pure gold”, on the contrary we find it a difficult, partial and contentious document. Its great merit, however, is that it opens wide breaches in the wall of non-communication that exists between the different actors concerned with the environment. It is therefore a necessary document, especially at this time when we are seeing a renewed understanding of the meaning of the words solidarity and participation.

This is why we ask you to contribute to the task of analysis and to send us your critiques and/or contributions, so that we can set off together on the path to building a Europe that is supportive, strong, inclusive and respectful of the enviromnent.

 

GNE– European Commission

The Commission’s GNE document has had the effect of “rallying the troops”. Analysis of the document has made it possible to draw up an appeal to the Commission President and all the EU Heads of State. It takes the form of an open letter that asks for funding of a new European pact for the climate and jobs.

Just as we pointed out in the previous section for the GNDE (which has the merit of also suggesting where funds can be found).

The following open letter was co-signed by more than 700 politicians, climatologists, economists, unionists, entrepreneurs, students, citizens and elected representatives at local, national and European level.

One million citizen of Europe signed the Open Letter in just 1 week, on the website Climateandjobs.eu, where the original version of this letter, as well as the sources of the different figures provided are also available. The objective is to reach at least 2 million.

Here is part of the text:

“Our society is facing a brutal shock. The priority is to save lives, of course, as well as jobs, but this crisis should not make us forget the climate emergency. More than ever, it is time to build a new European Pact for Climate and Jobs.

We are convinced that the ecological transition is not only a matter of survival, but also a moral obligation and an opportunity for Europe to reinvent itself as it recovers from the COVID-19 crisis.

The Climate emergency requires that we insulate all buildings, boost public transport and renewable energies, transform our agricultural model, protect biodiversity, protect and clean forests and the ocean, and develop adaptation and even reparation policies. All these projects are facing the same obstacle, however: who will pay?

In order to win the climate battle, we solemnly call on you to include, as one of the main pillars of the recovery plan that you have announced, credible solutions to finance a real Green Deal and to recognise the state of climate emergency.

In order to create international momentum, the EU must agree on an increased 2030 climate target, in line with science, equity and the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C objective, well in advance of COP26. For Member States to agree on this, how this transition will be paid for must be identified.

To this end, we are proposing three solutions we believe can reach a broad consensus:

  1. In order to drastically reduce our consumption of fossil fuels, stop all fossil fuels subsidies and investments. The European Climate Law must lead to prohibit all Member States from continuing to subsidise fossil fuels. It must also guarantee that all banks (private and public) and insurance companies operating in Europe are transparent about their activities and organise the progressive end of fossil investments. In 2010, Barack Obama’s FATCA Law closed the US market to banks that did not provide the US tax authorities with full transparency. Similarly, to fight climate change, we need a FATCA-Climate Law that reserves the EU market for banks and insurance firms that have redirected their investments to be consistent with the climate emergency.
  2. The European Central Bank has created €2,600 billion since 2015. Only 11% of these colossal amounts of money have gone into the real economy, whilst the vast majority has been used for speculation. In 2020, besides the hundreds of billions it will create to face the COVID-19 crisis, the ECB will create another 240 billion. It is essential this money is invested in climate and jobs. These billions must feed a Climate and Biodiversity Bank, which will provide interest-free loans to each Member State (up to 2% of its GDP each year for 30 years, ie, €300 billion).
  3. If every family, every small company and every territory is to invest in a deep zero carbon transformation, zero interest loans will not suffice, as the payback is limited or uncertain. For a catalytic effect, loans must be complemented with public subsidies. The average corporate tax rate in Europe has fallen by half over forty years (falling from 45% to 19%). A 5% European profit tax on large companies (adjusted according to their carbon footprint), combined with other own resources, would bring in €100 billion per year to feed a real EU Climate-Biodiversity Budget. This additional 100 billion would allow us to pass the threshold of 50% of the European budget devoted to climate and assist both the public and private transition.

 

These three solutions would provide sufficient money to finance a just transition that would be fair for workers, communities and citizens. They would enable the EU Green Deal to create more than 5 million jobs in Europe, as well as improving the livelihoods of millions of families and boosting investments in the carbon free economy. In the face of the climate emergency, whatever our political leanings, we must all strive for its success. …”

 Suggestions for changing behaviour

Let’s talk about tax. The introduction of a tax on currency exchanges, the so-called Tobin tax, has been discussed since the ’70s. It has never been enacted, with the justification that it cannot be introduced unilaterally by a single State but would have to be created in an international framework.

So this is the moment to introduce it at least in the EU, given that the economic crisis caused by COVID-19 requires that everyone contribute, and especially the world of finance. In addition, such a tax would help deflate the speculative financial bubble which has been artificially inflated over the past few years to the point where it threatens the global economy.  Indeed, given the current needs of EU states, a wider tax of 0.1% on all financial transactions (derivatives, stock options, etc.) would allow the rapid accumulation of large amounts of capital to be invested in the health and environment sectors, which stand in great need of it. This kind of tax arouses fear not because of its size but because it touches on the interests of speculators and those who profit from monetary instability.

Can the EU of the Green Deal continue to submit to speculation?