Tuesday 21st June marked a special day for the ‘Push Europe’ campaign, a youth campaign run by leading organisations, the UK Youth Climate Coalition, Young Friends of the Earth Europe and Bund Jugend.
Push Europe, launched on the 6th May 2011, right outside the UK’s Department for Energy and Climate Change, has been spending the last few months working with youth across Europe, calling for more ambitious measures from our EU leaders on climate change.
And the campaign came back round full circle when Push Europe presented Chris Huhne, the UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change and Lykke Friis, the Danish Environment Minister, over 300 CVs from youth across Europe applying to work and live in a low-carbon economy. Collected over the past couple of months, youth from countries including UK, Spain, Czech Republic, Sweden, called for more opportunities for ‘green jobs’; a transfer to cleaner energy; and most immediately, at least 30% emissions reductions on 1990 levels. At a time where there are overwhelming rates of youth unemployment, we know that bold emissions reductions targets will not only mean securing a transition into the cleaner, safer and more prosperous world we want to be living in, but also innovation and the creation of millions of jobs.
We can see from past successes such as the 2008/2009 EU Climate Package, that rapid and strong climate agreements are possible to be reached by the EU. As a regional block of 27 industrialised countries, their political will has the potential to lead the way to not only a more just and cleaner Europe, but also will set the bar for the rest of the world to follow.
Last February Chris Huhne released a co-signed statement along with 6 other EU Environment Ministers advocating for more ambitious EU targets. Since then we have seen rallying support from more sectors – last week 72 businesses called for 30% emissions reductions targets, along with health groups, trade unions, and only this Monday did 21 non-governmental organisations also call for support. Seemingly, it is not just young people who are part of sharing and building this vision for the future.
Yet, there is still some way to go. We as young people want to be supporting the progressive EU environment leaders in their mission to take realistic steps towards tackling climate change. Already, ahead of the European Parliamentary vote today on emissions reductions targets, we have sent every single MEP a letter calling for immediately at least 30% by 2020, as a step towards 40%. And it doesn’t stop there.
Over the coming months, all of our friends, communities and political leaders will be hearing much more from us. Push Europe will be building momentum all across the region, mobilising, skilling-up and organizing for the future that will be safer for us and future generations. We know the science, so we know what needs to be done, we just need the organizing and political will. We are ready to take that leap of faith, but will our politicians follow?