On 26th of October 2021, EUD attended a strategic dialogue hosted by the Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion (DG EMPL) department at the European Commission on climate neutrality. The objective of the event was to discuss and provide feedback on the Commission’s forthcoming proposal for a Council recommendation on addressing EU Climate Neutrality.
The opening remarks were given by Mrs Barbara Kauffmann, Director of Employment and Social Governance, Analysis at DG EMPL. Mrs Kauffmann announced a new unit which was created in July 2021 titled ‘Fair Green and Digital Transitions, Research’ and reminded the participants of the EU’s commitment to a just transition. Mrs Kauffmann briefly introduce the Fit for 55 Package initiative which is part of the European Green Deal initiative, which included 13 proposals to help achieve the target of reducing emissions by at least 55% by 2030. Each of 13 proposals are set to help the EU Member States to achieve the targets and adjust climate and energy legislation.
The second speaker at the event was Frank Siebern-Thomas, Head of Unit titled ‘Fair Green and Digital Transitions Research’ at DG EMPL. Mr Siebern-Thomas presented the potential content of the Fit for 55. The key objectives of the proposal included:
- Strengthening the existing system by increasing incentives for polluters and reducing emission faster by phasing out free emission allowance
- Strengthening energy efficiency standards at Member State level
- All new cars, vans and the EU have to be emission free with the intermediate target by 2035.
- Strengthening of the infrastructure and alternative fuel infrastructure.
Mr Siebern-Thomas emphasised achieving this new climate goal requires a fair, inclusive and green transition which includes the new social climate fund which is set to tackle the energy poverty that more than 34 million Europeans suffer from.
The discussion portion of the event included speakers from various organisations such as EuroHealthNet, Caritas, Climate Action Network Europe, and Autism Europe. Each organisation bringing their unique perspective on the Commission’s proposal on Climate Neutrality regarding housing, employment (including retraining and upskilling), transport and energy. EUD’s Policy Assistant Ms Toju Popo contributed to the discussion by citing the importance of ensuring accessibility of services, and that access to upskilling and training opportunities for people with disabilities should consider the needs required to ensure the transition is accessible and inclusive, for deaf persons would include sign language interpretation.
This strategic dialogue came at the opportune time as climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing society. The conversation was informative as it is helpful to know and understand how NGOs and the Commission could work together to deal with the climate crisis and how we could make it inclusive and fair transition for all persons in society.