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Countdown: May 31 at noon, grandparents and seniors throughout Europe will blow their whistles for better climate policies








By Godela von Kirchbach and Jan Stel

Your Excellency, Mr. President,

We, the European Grandparents for Climate, have learned with disappointment and irritation about the plan drafted by you, Mr. Charles Michel, to turn away from the goals of the Green Deal. We, one of the voices of the elderly European citizens who represent 21 % of the European voters, want you to reconsider this.

The EGC are an umbrella organization of fifteen European organizations of seniors who are concerned about the consequences that climate change has for future generations. So far, we have been happy to see that the European Union has been a front runner in the fight against climate change, which we consider a moral and political duty of us all.

Because of the positive action taken by the European Union so far we have been campaigning for the European Elections this June in our respective countries. But we cannot agree at all with the deregulatory push and the backtracking on measures against the climate crisis, nature loss and pollution, which we consider the biggest threats to our societies. We understand the need to keep our economies competitive but this cannot be done by destroying the basis for a liveable future.

The majority of EU citizens support more ambitious policies to address the climate emergency. But it seems that in the face of the looming elections vested interests and powerful lobbies carry more weight than the needs of the populace and of future generations..

Business and industry have the right to campaign for their interests. But EU policymakers should make their decisions based on the best interest of the citizens. It goes without saying that these decisions should be based on impartial and state of the art scientific analysis. There is no such basis for oft-repeated claim that green regulation prevents competitiveness or harms the economy.

Another example of the wrong conclusions are the agricultural policies. Removing safeguards that protect the environment does not profit the individual farmer but only the agricultural industry. The consequences of this policy will expose farmers even more to the nefarious impact of the climate crisis and biodiversity loss. It offers no short-term relief and undermines the farmers’ long-term interest. That is the opposite of a sustainable policy.

There is also no justification for scrapping environmental regulations for the chemical industry, which is suffering from high energy prices. These cannot be compensated for by allowing the degradation of the environment because that will bring about huge costs later. Then these costs have to be borne by future European generations, which would constitute climate injustice. Moreover, your current concessions to lobby groups are not based on evidence and are in violation of the EU’s duty of safeguarding human rights, as clearly stated by the European Court of Human rights in their recent ruling in favour of the Swiss Klimaseniorinnen.

The EU should resist the false narrative that green policies are to blame for economic difficulties. Environmental damage done now is like accumulating debt with high interest for the future and is economically unwise. It is also a grave injustice towards future generations, who cannot speak for themselves and whose interests we have taken up.

Therefore, your position paper points into a completely wrong direction and should not be adopted. It would alienate all responsible citizens from the European Union. We do not want to campaign for parties and policies that prioritize vested interests before the well-being of the majority.

Best regards,

Dr. Godela von Kirchbach (Vienna) and Prof. em. Jan Stel (Belgium), co-chairs of EGC