Climate emergency: from declarations to action
We are witnessing to a fully-fledged climate breakdown which could be defined as “climate emergency”. It is climate emergency and the urgency to act on it that is mobilising hundreds of thousands of people who are calling on their local, regional or national authorities to declare the emergency. This movement sweeps across the world: Ireland, Canada and France have officially declared climate emergency, as well as over 770 cities, including Paris, Naples, New York and London.
Climate emergency that has so massively been the protagonist of the recent European elections, and it is this notion that law- and decision-makers now need to confront.
In this plenary we aim at discussing what asking for a “climate emergency” means and entails from a legislative and political point of view, and what are the actions that the EU would institutionally be required to take in order to confront with it. Carbon neutrality must be the goal of the EU’s climate policy, yet we see backlash against increasing the ambition of its 2030 emission targets. Ursula von der Leyen, in her election plea to the European Parliament, committed herself to increasing the targets and to submitting a Green New Deal and a European Climate Law in her 100 first days in the office. Yet a number of national governments are still hostile to a bold climate policy.
Virginijus Sinkevičius, Minister of Economy and Innovation of Lithuania and Commissioner-designate for Environment and Oceans
Virginijus Sinkevičius is the Commissioner-designate for Environment and Oceans and the Minister of the Economy and Innovation of the Republic of Lithuania with responsibility for a number of areas, including innovation, investment, export promotion, business environment and tourism. The Minister’s goals are to strengthen the Lithuanian economy by focusing on innovation, to give more attention to the start-up ecosystem, science and business cooperation and to improve the investment environment in the knowledge economy sectors.
Virginijus Sinkevičius is a Member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania; he was Chair of the Committee on Economics of the Seimas from 2016 to 2017. Prior to being appointed Minister of the Economy and Innovation, he held several high-level posts: he was Head of International Group Projects at the Lithuanian Post (Lietuvos Paštas), Coordinator of the Concession Project at Lithuanian Airports, Head of the Investment Environment Improvement Group at Invest Lithuania. He has studied and lived in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and the USA.
Virginijus Sinkevičius holds a degree of Master of Arts in European Studies from Maastricht University (the Netherlands) and a degree of Bachelor of Economics and Social Studies from Aberystwyth University (the United Kingdom).
Krista Mikkonen, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change of Finland
Krista Mikkonen has been Minister of the Environment and Climate Change since June 2019. She has a Master of Science degree in biology from the University of Joensuu. In 2015, Mikkonen was elected to Parliament for the first time. In 2016–2019 she chaired the Green Parliamentary Group. In 2011–2015 she was the Deputy Party Leader of the Greens and, before that, she served in different bodies of the party. She has also served as a Joensuu City Council Member since 2005. In politics her particular focus has been on the environment, biodiversity, education and equality, and on combatting poverty.
Laura Kolehmainen, Climate activist (Finland)
Laura Kolehmainen is a law and world politics student and the founder of Finland’s biggest youth/citizen climate campaign Ilmastoveivi2019 that collected the support of over 60,000 citizens and 200 organizations from schools to trade unions, libraries and sports clubs to take leadership in climate action on the EU level.
Michael Bloss, MEP, Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament (Germany)
Michael grew up in Stuttgart and studied International Relations and Globalisation and Development in Dresden and London. He worked as a consultant for the United Nations Development Group, in the regional parliament of Baden-Württemberg and for Ska Keller in Brussels, before he was elected to the EP in 2019. There, he is a full member of the Committee on ITRE and a substitute member of the ENVI Committee. Moreover, he is the coordinator of the Climate Core Group within the Greens/EFA Group.
Michael became engaged in the Greenpeace youth wing early on and then joined the Grüne Jugend in 2008 were he was active in various functions before he became spokesperson of FYEG in 2013. He recently became member of the party board of Bündnis 90/Die Grünen in his home region, Baden-Württemberg.
Marie Pochon, General coordinator of Notre Affaire à Tous (France)
Since two years, Marie Pochon is one of the coordinators of the climate movement in France, as the secretary general for Notre Affaire à Tous, where together with Marie Toussaint, she initiated the historical climate case petition of l'Affaire du Siecle. Notre Affaire à Tous is bringing law change and juridical cases in the hands of citizens mobilisation facing climate emergency.
Monica Frassoni, Co-chair of the European Green Party (Belgium)
Monica Frassoni has been co-chair of the European Green Party since October 2009. She is also the president of the European Alliance to Save Energy (EUASE), a multi-stakeholder organisation advocating in favour of energy efficiency legislation, and the European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES), a foundation implementing projects of electoral assistance in developing countries. In 1987 she became Secretary General of the Young European Federalists. From 1990 to 1999 she worked for the Greens at the European Parliament on constitutional issues, internal regulation and immunity. In 1999 she was elected MEP with Ecolo, and in 2004 with the Federazione dei Verdi. Between 2002 and 2009 she was co-President of the Greens with Daniel Cohn-Bendit. As MEP she focused on the implementation of European law, citizen participation, the role of lobbies, infraction procedures.