EU (Parliament Politic Magazine) – A mounting backlash against Europe’s environmental agenda has, thus far, been unable to hinder its decarbonization plans. However, upcoming elections pose a potential threat to future climate and nature initiatives. The European Union has solidified its position as a frontrunner in the fight against climate change by establishing legally binding carbon reduction targets and introducing policies aimed at significantly reducing emissions in the coming decade.
Europe’s Key Policies
According to policymakers and analysts, the impact of the green backlash has been relatively minimal thus far. This is primarily due to the fact that the majority of Europe’s key policies aimed at reducing CO2 emissions are firmly established in legislation.
However, as policymakers strive to implement net-zero targets across various sectors, including buildings and transportation, they are encountering growing opposition. This resistance stems from citizens grappling with the challenges posed by a cost of living crisis.
It is worth nothing that policymakers and analysts assert that the green backlash has not significantly impeded the progress of Europe’s CO2-cutting policies. This is largely because these policies have already been enshrined in law.
Nevertheless, policymakers are now confronted with the task of translating their net-zero objectives into concrete actions that extend beyond the realm of power generation. This expansion into areas like buildings and transportation has encountered mounting resistance from citizens who are grappling with the financial burdens associated with the cost of living crisis.
The German ruling coalition was on the verge of collapse due to the intense debate surrounding a proposed law aimed at gradually eliminating oil and gas heating. Meanwhile, in the Netherlands, public outrage over measures to reduce nitrogen pollution resulted in a surprising victory for a newly formed political party representing farmers’ protests.
Politicians into Fears About the Cost of Green Policies
Analysts assert that politicians are progressively capitalizing on concerns regarding the cost of green policies in anticipation of upcoming regional, national, and EU elections within the next year and a half.
“It is undoubtedly a distinct scenario compared to 2019, when we initially witnessed overwhelming support and political determination to take action from various parties,” stated Virginijus Sinkevicius, the European Environment Commissioner, in an interview with news agency Reuters.
Politicians must consider the polls indicating that a significant majority of citizens are concerned about climate change, as well as the influential business interests driving the green transition.
“We have a steadfast majority that backs the green deal,” he stated, alluding to the substantial support in the European Parliament for the European Union’s comprehensive green agenda.
Sinkevicius further: “But then we come to more difficult files [EU legal proposals] where I think, inevitably, they are very much affected by the political debate”. The European Council on Foreign Relations’ Mats Engström reveals: “The elections to the European Parliament next year will be very decisive if one looks further ahead, because the centre right group is turning more negative to green policies.”
It’s Getting Harder to Pass Green Laws in the EU
Officials have expressed concerns about the increasing difficulty in enacting environmentally friendly legislation. Several European Union (EU) governments are now opposing the implementation of stricter emissions limits for automobiles and attempting to dilute pollution controls for livestock farms.
Additionally, a proposal aimed at enhancing the energy efficiency of buildings is being met with resistance from countries apprehensive about the associated expenses. Notably, the Polish government, currently preparing for October elections, has taken its opposition to EU climate policies to the extent of filing a lawsuit against Brussels.
“Does the EU want to make authoritarian decisions about what kind of vehicles Poles will drive?” Last month, Anna Moskwa, the Minister of Climate and Environment, made a request. According to Nathalie Tocci, the director of the Italian international relations Think tank Istituto Affari Internazionali, nature conservation measures encounter more significant resistance compared to decarbonization efforts.
This is primarily due to the influential agricultural sector’s lobbying activities and the absence of compelling business incentives to drive change. Despite the centre-right European People’s Party, the largest group in the European Parliament, launching a recent campaign to thwart a proposed law aimed at restoring damaged environments, their efforts were ultimately unsuccessful. However, it appears that the proposal is now on track to be weakened.