Debating with EU decision-makers on how to promote fair environmental policies

On December 5, we organized the conference “Go green, Be social” in the frame of the Spring Alliance and with the support of the King Baudouin Foundation. It was hosted by Pervenche Berès MEP, Chair of the EP’s Employment and Social Affairs Committee.

With this conference, we wanted to launch a debate with EU decision-makers and relevant stakeholders on how to promote fair environmental policies – combining social, environmental and economic aspects. We focused specifically on the taxation component of  EU energy and environmental policies and their social impact: to date EU energy policies for an energy transition towards a more climate friendly economy have not taken into proper account the social impact of the policies themselves.

In order to shape the debate, we commissioned a background paper by independent experts Lucas Chancel in collaboration with Simon Ilse. The paper “Environmental taxation and equity concern” (which does not necessarily reflect the position of Social Platform and the other members of Spring Alliance on environmental policies and tax justice) was meant to be the starting point for a discussion with EU decision-makers and stakeholders on such an important issue.

The debate covered the following points:

  1. Ensuring that the burden of the transition is fairly shared between private consumption and production activities
  2. Shifting from labour to environmental taxation: how our welfare systems will be funded?
  3. How to include people challenged the most by the environmental transition?
  4. What is the role of the EU and Member States?

Above all, what Social Platform is campaigning for is to ensure that making the EU economy more climate-friendly and boosting it straight to the 2050 energy roadmap targets should not happen without taking into account the effects on people, especially the most vulnerable. In Europe between 50 million and 125 million people are estimated to be energy poor (source: EPEE, 2009). As more people are affected by rising energy costs across Europe, it is time for EU leaders to finally re-balance the energy debate. Energy policies must not worsen the situation; instead they should bring improvement for both social and environmental issues.

Tackling climate change and pushing our society towards a less energy-consuming economy will involve the use of a wide range of instruments. Environmental Fiscal Reform could deliver a joint solution, both to the environmental and socio-economic challenges we are currently facing, but only if we guarantee that the tax burden is fairly shared between consumption and production, protecting energy consumers from runaway shifts in prices. The revenues that are raised from green taxation must also be used to promote social protection in an integrated approach to social, environmental and economic aspects at the same time.

For more information, please visit our web page. An updated version of the background paper, a report of the conference and an article from prof. Stefan Bouzarovski on energy poverty will be available in January on this web page.