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‘Yellow vests’ spark EU debate about just transition to clean energy

Nov 30, 2018 | News

(30 November 2018) – Protests against high fuel prices in France and French-speaking Belgium have propelled climate policy to the forefront of the political debate. The EU has unveiled its long-term vision for greenhouse gas reduction but lacks the necessary competences to mitigate the social impact of transition.

Gilets jaunes.
© Wikimedia Commons

“It’s a big joke and a hoax when I hear about the energy transition,” said Benoît Julou, a spokesperson from the “yellow vests” movement in Brittany. For Julou, the calculation is simple: ecological taxes on fuel are unaffordable for people who live on €1,200 per month and pay €450 in rent.

“If the decarbonisation agenda leaves people behind, it will be rejected by the citizens,” said Montserrat Mir Roca, from the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC).

But the European Union has limited competences on social policy. And EU member states are often left on their own when it comes to dealing with the social consequences of climate policies that are often designed at the European level. “It’s a big lack, a big void,” says Karima Delli, a French Member of the European Parliament for the Greens political group.

“Why are yellow vests on the street? Because it is primarily the poorest who will be victims of climate change,” said Delli who supports “a popular ecology” that takes care of the weakest first and “makes sure the better-off participate to the collective effort, for example with the introduction of a tax on kerosene.” (EurActiv)

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