Overview of campaigns around Europe
Overview of campaigns around Europe
The following text presents an overview of the progress that the 18 countries involved in the Big Ask campaign are making towards climate laws.
FoE Austria managed to convince the economy and transport ministries to abandon their opposition to a climate change act. In June 2011 the climate change act passed at ministerial level and is now ready for adoption in the Parliament so it is very likely that Austria will have a climate change act this year. Concerning the content the law is more process oriented, describing the way to negotiate and create new institutions. It will define a framework for discussing climate change policy but there are still many questions open as e.g. the targets for 2020 are not defined yet.
The coalition agreements for the Brussels and Walloon governments both include the proposal for a climate law, as well as medium and long term emission targets that are more ambitious than the current EU target. The federal climate minister also supports the idea of a climate law, and introduced a law proposal to the federal council of ministers. The collapse of the government means that this proposal must be resubmitted. The Big Ask campaign has built public pressure for a strong and socially just law through a series of activities including a film clip made with award-winning film director Nic Balthazar in 2008, and a follow-up clip made in 2009.
The Big Ask campaign (Velka vyzva in Czech) had a setback after elections that brought in a very right-wing government. The campaign already had the support from the Socialist Democrats (now main opposition party), the Greens and other smaller parties. They have now managed to get two out of four conservative government parties on board and this might be an entry point to the government agenda. The campaign is supported by more than 15 000 people, by the all relevant (includes most important) development and humanitarian organisations in Czech (Forum for development co-operation consits of 50 NGOs and academic institutions) and 50 environmental, human rights or social organisations. The Climate Law is supported by 60 small green companies and 30 celebrities (i.a. Former president of republic Vaclav Havel). FoE CZ have a specialist partner organisation for legal advising – the Environmental Law Service.
Opposition parties have proposed a climate law in 2010 that was supported by 45% of the Parliament. The situation looks promising as elections will take place on September 15th and it is very likely that the current opposition will get into government. The Red-Green party now stated publicly that they will make the adoption of a Danish Climate Law a precondition for giving their support to a new left wing government. Other opposition parties seem to be supportive of this.
England, Wales, Northern Ireland
The Big Ask achieved a major victory in November 2008, when the groundbreaking Climate Change Act became law, due to massive support from the public and celebrities such as Radiohead front-man Thom Yorke. As a result of the law the UK in 2009 committed to reduce emissions by 42 per cent by 2020 from 1990 levels (or 34 per cent if other EU countries don't make similar commitments). In May 2011 the Government went a step further and agreed to reduce emissions by 50 per cent by 2025. The Government is also introducing new laws on energy efficiency and on regulation of the electricity sector. To meet the new UK emissions reduction goals electric supply will need to be almost carbon-free by 2030, a major change in the UK. Our campaigning is now focusing on the implementation of the law to ensure that it is firmly delivered and socially just. The campaign is focusing particularly on opposing offsetting of carbon emissions as a potentially dangerous loophole in the law and for the finance to implement the necessary cuts, as well as campaigning for local government to “Get Serious” about cutting CO2 emissions.
The new Finnish government has agreed to prepare a proposal and make a decision on a climate law. It is a great milestone for the Finnish Big Ask campaign that the parties – there are six in government - have taken up the issue in the current political situation. The proposal will be prepared by the Environment Minister from the Green Party. FoE Finland will focus on carbon budgets as a base for the law, and will be advocating ambitious CO2 reduction targets that include the ETS sector.
The law resulting from the “Grenelle de l'environnement” was passed in July 2009 and includes a target of 75% emission reductions by 2050 and annual emission reduction targets, although there is no compliance mechanism. The law also includes targets for building efficiency and transport, although there are some omissions such as consumption norms for building renovations. Friends of the Earth France have focussed on securing a strong French position in climate negotiations at the international and European level. They brought several hundred activists to Copenhagen.
The Big Ask campaign in Germany has focussed on building support through speaking to members of the public at events such as the Radiohead concert in Berlin in 2008, and the Energy Union tour in 2009. Friends of the Earth is also campaigning for a strong and just agreement at the UN climate negotiations, and was active in Copenhagen in December 2009. BUND (FoE Germany) is working to oppose a number of "false solutions" to climate change, has managed to stop a Carbon Capture and Storage law passing through the German Parliament. It has halted the construction of 2 new coal power plants due to resistance of local groups.
The climate bill – which was removed from the agenda following the 2010 election of the conservative party - will be re-considered by the government. FoE Hungary have ensured that key decision-makers of the new government and the climate-energy related Ministries are familiar with the climate bill concept and receive regular updates through lobby meetings. The number of supporting experts and progressive industries has increased. A further success is the use of an energy quota system advocated by FoE Hungary in the Government’s Energy Strategy: it will be used to increase public awareness of energy issues.
The new Government's legislative programme includes the publication of a climate change bill in 2012. FoE Ireland has now met with Cabinet ministers, and the Minister for Environment. In those meetings it was indicated to have a climate law passed in 2012, before Ireland takes up the EU presidency in 2013.
Ireland had a very successful seminar and visit in July with the CEO of the UK CCC and the head of FoE EWNI's parliamentary team. They are planning an intensive round of engagement, relationship building and lobbying this autumn.
The campaign in Italy has focused on implementation of the EU target of 20% energy efficiency, and calls for this target to be increased to 30%. This is necessary to avoid the shift to nuclear power, and to allow the money to be invested into renewable energy and the transformation of the economy.
A coalition of 30 organisations proposed a draft Climate Bill in 2008, but it has not been possible to achieve a majority in parliament. The Dutch Minister of Environment proposed measures which would result in a legally binding climate policy in 2010, however the collapse of the government in 2010 means that discussion on the law will be delayed until after the election in June 2010.
A climate law proposal submitted to parliament in February 2009 by the opposition environment spokesman was not successful, but the campaign continues to lobby the government on climate strategy, and build public support for binding national legislation on climate change.
The Big Ask in Scotland achieved a major victory in June 2009 when the Scottish Parliament adopted a climate change law with targets for 42% emission cuts by 2020. The law, sets ambitious medium and long-term targets for emission reductions, and is binding on central and local government. It includes aviation and shipping emissions, and limits the amount of reductions that can be offset. The campaign drew significant support from members of the public and celebrities and is now focussing on ensuring strong implementation. Since the Climate Act was passed the Government has published its 'Report on Proposals and Policies' which details how they plan to meet the targets. FoE Scotland succeeded in ensuring the annual targets were strengthened by lobbying the Parliament to reject the first government proposal. Very encouragingly, the purchase of carbon credits will not be allowed in the 2013-2017 period. FoE Scotland also visited a number of other countries to promote the Scottish Climate Change Act and to support other countries in their Big Ask campaigns.
The third draft climate law in Slovenia was published and a decision made to prepare a long-term climate strategy alongside the law. The governmental Climate Change Office conducted a series of thematic workshops to outline the main chapters of the long-term climate strategy and wants to use the results for a more comprehensive draft climate strategy as well as for the fourth draft climate act. But Slovenia is in a political crisis and the current minority government might fall which might postpone or stop the climate law process. In case the government is still in place for another 6 months the adoption of the act is very possible.
At national level the parliament for studies on climate change, with representatives from all the parties, recommended that the government approve a climate change law, based on carbon budgets. For the upcoming general elections, at least three political parties (but not the conservative Partido Popular) are very likely to include the climate change law in their program. Still, the shift to a very conservative government is a serious barrier since the “Partido Popular” will be a bigger challenge. Due to the work of FoE Spain the first Spanish regional climate law in the Basque country was achieved and does provide a good number of binding mitigation measures. The Balearic Islands approved an Action Plan for Climate Change that contemplates the implementation of a climate change law as a priority measure.
Sweden has adopted a number of laws which deal with the response to climate change. The most recent law, adopted in 2009, is very weak. It contains no annual emission targets, and an unacceptably high level of offsetting.
Young Friends of the Earth Europe
Young FoEE is a grassroots network of young people and youth organisations working together on social and environmental justice issues. We work collectively on a local, national and European level, to inspire other young people, organise great actions and events and get lots of attention in the media, in politics and amongst the general public on what we think as young people in Europe.
In 2009, the ‘Act Now’ campaign was lead by the Young FoE Climate Team. This group of 30 young people from 15 different countries from across Europe followed the international and European politics on climate change and took action at a national, European and International level.