NGO claims EU climate policy ‘not coherent’ with bloc’s stance on peace and human rights

Quaker Council says Europe’s military sectors operating under a “state of exemption” with goals of European Green deal.
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By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

23 Apr 2021

An NGO has claimed European Union climate policy is “not coherent” with the bloc’s stance on peace and human rights and “even impedes its declared climate aims.”

That is the accusation levelled at the EU by The Quaker Council for European Affairs (QCEA), an attack timed to coincide with International Mother Earth Day on 22 April.

The QCEA published a report providing an overview of EU climate policies and initiatives and “exploring the connections” between climate, peace, and human rights.

Atiaf Alwazir, head of the Peace Programme at QCEA, said, “Actions to build sustainable peace and tackle the climate crisis must be mutually complementary. We need to address the root causes of the climate crisis and not only the symptoms.”

The report comes after a landmark climate deal on Wednesday that commits the EU and Member States to reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.

On Friday, the United States will host the second day of a virtual World Leaders Summit on climate. This aims to galvanise efforts by the world's major economies to tackle the climate crisis.

“Actions to build sustainable peace and tackle the climate crisis must be mutually complementary. We need to address the root causes of the climate crisis and not only the symptoms” Atiaf Alwazir, head of the Peace Programme at the Quaker Council for European Affairs

Many hope that the talks will focus on the urgency and economic benefits of stronger climate action. In June, the European Commission presents its package for implementing the climate goals.

An EU Council meeting of environment ministers was held on Thursday.

The QCEA notes, in its report, that, in December 2019, the then new European Commission announced its goal to become both more “geopolitical” and “green” with its showpiece the European Green deal whose goals are to galvanise a regional transformation to meet the climate challenge.

But the QCEA says that “simultaneously, the EU also continues to invest in carbon-intensive activities such as the arms trade.”

Its report entitled, Climate, Peace and Human Rights: Are European Policies Coherent? says that Europe’s military sectors operate under a “state of exemption” with the European Green deal “completely and purposely ignoring everything to do with the impact of militarisation on climate.”

The report stresses that any green transition plan “must address sustainability and justice issues.”

It adds, “This must begin with a reframing of the issue by placing people, not profits, at the centre. Needs such as cleaner air, water, energy are security needs; therefore, climate justice must be approached from perspectives that prioritise tackling power dynamics.”

“The EU must use a rights-based approach that reflects concerns about the human impact of climate policies. Climate action is a necessary condition for social justice" Kékéli Kpognon, head of the Human Rights Programme at the Quaker Council for European Affairs

The report adds, “The ecological collapse we are experiencing is the direct result of an unequal social contract, unsustainable economic and political systems which are affecting families and communities throughout the globe, but which has had a worse impact on some more than others.”

Kékéli Kpognon, head of the Human Rights Programme at QCEA, argues that, “The EU must use a rights-based approach that reflects concerns about the human impact of climate policies. Climate action is a necessary condition for social justice."

Meanwhile, further reaction to the new EU climate law deal came from Finnish Renew Europe MEP Nils Torvalds who called it a “historic result”, adding, “It is clear that most MEPs would have liked the Council and Commission to have taken a more ambitious stance on the issue, but it was no surprise that the European Parliament's proposals met with strong opposition, especially from certain Member States.

“Given the expectations, I think that we as Europeans can be satisfied that we have reached an agreement that makes Europe the first continent with a practical plan on how to achieve climate neutrality.”

“A Parliament spokesman said, “The new EU climate law increases the EU’s 2030 emissions reductions target from 40 percent to at least 55 percent while boosting the contribution from removals that can bring the target to 57 percent.”

“The new law transforms political promises that the EU will become climate neutral by 2050 into a binding obligation, and gives European citizens and businesses the legal certainty and predictability they need to plan for the transition to climate neutrality. After 2050, the EU shall aim to achieve negative emissions.”

The deal will now be put to the Parliament’s Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee and plenary for approval as well as to the council.

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