Go Green, Be Social: read the report from the conference

The need to shift towards a greener economy is a well accepted fact. Since multiple studies conclude that, to a certain extent, climate change is due to human economic activity, reducing the use of carbon intensive sources of energy and the linked CO2 emissions is specifically required in order to control global warming.

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. Rising energy prices are contributing to difficulties in affording basic energy services – which arise from poverty and poor housing. In Europe between 50 million and 125 million people are estimated to be energy poor.

As more people are affected by rising energy costs across Europe it is time for EU leaders to finally rebalance 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. But will the money raised through green taxation be enough to ensure adequate levels of social protection in Europe?

With the conference “Go green, Be social”, 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. The debate covered the following points:
1. How can we ensure that the burden 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 energy transition?
4. What is the role of the EU and member states?

You can read in the final report from the conference how representatives from the European Commission, the European Parliament, acedemics and stakeholders have responded to these questions.

You can also read the background paper "Environmental taxes and equity concerns" that was commissioned to Lucas Chancel and Simon Ilse to shape the debate and an article on energy poverty written by Prof. Bouzarovski.