Time for a just transition
BRUSSELS: While central Paris was once again the scene of violent confrontations last weekend between the police and protestors angry at rising fuel costs, in Brussels tens of thousands of people took to the streets demanding more ambitious action against climate change.
The two protests appear very different, but for Dirk Holemans they are two sides of the same coin. Writing in Dutch-language magazine Knack, he said that the fury unleashed by small rises in fuel duty – billed as a way of reducing carbon emissions – shows that “climate policy must be social, or else it won’t happen at all”.
Holemans proposed a vision for transforming carbon intensive sectors while also helping the poorest members of society. “A just transition is about more than just reducing greenhouse gas emissions or transforming the economy,” he said. “The key question is how we can get everyone involved.” It means an investment programme for energy efficient homes, securing fresh and healthy food and creating new jobs in green industries.
But success requires a “broad coalition in which very different social groups make a clear choice”, Holemans added. “You will only get that if it’s backed up by a narrative of global emancipation.” That’s not the same thing as a glib desire to eliminate social conflict. “It’s a tough fight against the leaders and lobby groups who continue to swear by ways of producing and consuming that are destroying the planet.”