EU election 2024 – Vote for social climate policy

On 9 June 2024, the citizens of the European Union will elect a new parliament. Effective and socially just climate policy is one of the most important tasks facing the European Union in the coming years. The German Caritas Association has formulated six visions of how people in the EU can live in a socially just and ecologically sustainable way.

 

Hand an Termostat

… because people with little money can live healthily and affordably as well. The worst insulated buildings are the first ones to be renovated. The rent including heating does not rise as a result.

Too many of the more than 40 million households in Germany and the almost 200 million households in the European Union still live in apartments and houses that are poorly insulated and run on fossil fuel heating systems. This mainly affects people with lower incomes. In view of fluctuating oil and gas prices, but above all the prospect of rising CO2 prices, these people are particularly dependent on their apartments and houses being sufficiently insulated and the heating supply being switched to renewables.

Poor insulation leads to significantly more energy being consumed than is actually needed. Draughty windows and roofs cause warmth to escape in the winter and heat to enter in the summer, reducing living comfort reduced. In addition to the geographical location within Europe, a household’s energy consumption also depends on the size of the home, the number of inhabitants, user behavior and to a large extent on the age of the building or the state of renovation. Therefore, it is important to reduce energy consumption through insulation, especially in buildings where people on low incomes live.

In addition to insulation, switching to renewable energies such as heat pump systems is also relevant. This will make us less dependent on geopolitical upheavals and imported gas and oil. Solar and wind are already the cheapest way of generating electricity and, via conversion, heat.

The costs of energy-efficient refurbishment must be shared fairly between tenants, landlords and the public sector (one-third model) in order to prevent individual parties from being overburdened financially. In this way, the amount of the overall rent can remain unchanged, energy consumption is significantly reduced, the remaining energy consumption is covered by renewable sources and the quality of life increases, as draughty windows, mold growth, insufficiently heated rooms and energy poverty become a thing of the past. Consequently, those with lower incomes will particularly benefit.

Warm homes for all – EU elections Vote for social climate policy

Frau in U-Bahn

… in the city and in the countryside, even for people with disabilities, whether young or old. Public transport is well developed and affordable.

Previous transport policies, focusing heavily on cars, has created mobility poverty. People who cannot afford a car, who are too young, too old or too ill to drive or who refuse to own a car for environmental reasons are often affected by mobility poverty, especially if they live in rural areas. Mobility is often too expensive for them, the nearest shopping facilities or medical center is too far away, the mobility options are insufficient, or the use of public transport takes too much time due to poor connections.

A well-developed, affordable public transport system, on the other hand, which also offers services for people working early or later shifts, enables carefree mobility for everyone. In addition, footpaths and cycle paths should be significantly expanded to make them safer, healthier and more comfortable to use.

At the same time, car traffic needs to be restricted, especially in cities, in order to reduce noise and harmful particulate emissions, which particularly affect those who live on busy roads but often cannot afford their own car. A targeted reduction in car traffic would free up space for safe pedestrian and cycle paths and exercise areas, which would enable children and families in particular, but also older people, to have a better everyday quality of life.

Attractive and affordable mobility for all – EU elections Vote for social climate policy

Bild Flugzeug

… those who emit a lot of CO2 can do a lot to save the climate. And they have a responsibility to do so!

Effective laws ensure a significant reduction of “luxury” emissions.

Not everybody shares the same responsibility for the climate crisis. In the EU, the wealthiest 10 percent of the population is responsible for 27 percent of the CO2 footprint, or in other words, they emit as much or slightly more than the bottom 50 percent of the population, income wise, in the EU. [1] While the emissions of the poorer half of the population have decreased, those of the richest top 10 percent continue to rise, ensuring that the reduction targets have not yet been met.

A climate policy that pays too little attention to luxury emissions not only risks losing public acceptance, moreover, it will also not be able to achieve the goal of greenhouse gas neutrality. We therefore need a discussion on how to effectively reduce the emissions of those who cause the majority of them. Air travel, including by private aircraft, shipping, land consumption and, last but not least, the investment strategies of private capital are effective levers to ensure that everyone contributes their fair share to climate protection, including those who have more money and assets than others.

Climate protection by everybody – EU elections Vote for social climate policy

[1] Klimasoziale Transformation – Klimaschutz und Ungleichheitsreduktion wirken Hand in Hand (bertelsmann-stiftung.de)
(Climate-social transformation – climate protection and inequality reduction go hand in hand)

Fußspuren im Sand

… when energy prices rise due to the CO2 tax, there are climate-friendly and affordable , such as well-developed bus and rail transportation and insulated homes.

In the European Union, the purchase and consumption of oil, gas, petrol and diesel will be priced and therefore more expensive from 2027 onwards, as a result of another European emissions trading scheme (ETS 2). This measure is intended to create a steering effect towards climate-friendly production and consumption.

In order for people to have a climate-friendly alternative to fossil fuels, alternatives must be created rapidly. This includes the expansion of climate-friendly mobility, such as public transport, long-distance transport, but also walking and cycling. It is also important that houses and apartments are insulated and that heat supply is secured through renewable energies.  Otherwise, people will experience additional financial strain without being able to choose a climate-friendly alternative.

Climate-friendly alternatives for all – EU elections Vote for social climate policy

Hand mit Glühbirne

… on the balcony or the roof of an apartment building – everyone benefits from affordable solar power thanks to funding programs for people with little money and thanks to a good legal framework.

Anybody owning  a property can choose to produce most of the electricity needed self-sufficiently by installing a photovoltaic system. As a result, property owners also benefit from the expansion of renewable energies financially. This option is not yet available to tenants.

With plug-in solar systems, simplified tenant electricity and subsidy programs for people with little money, it would be easy for everyone in Europe to cover part of their electricity demand themselves, thus becoming less dependent on the electricity market and benefiting directly from climate protection and the energy transition.

Self-generated electricity for all – EU elections Vote for social climate policy

All visions at a glance can be found here (pdf, DIN A 4)
The demands of the German Caritas Association for the 2024 EU elections with the chapter “Shaping climate protection in a socially just way” can be found here (in German).

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