On Wednesday 1 February, the European Climate Pact celebrated two years of taking climate action, in different worlds, but together for our planet.
Over 500 people from across Europe came together for an event in Brussels – while hundreds more joined us online – to hear from Climate Pact Ambassadors, experts and activists about how they’re helping to tackle the climate, energy and environmental crises, all the while building a greener Europe. The event was moderated by Hajar Yagkoubi, youth inclusion expert and former UN Youth Representative for the Netherlands.
European Commission Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans kicked off the day by calling all levels of society to take climate action – especially those at the top of politics and in industry – but stressed that the biggest waves are made when demand comes from the bottom.
“We (Europe) would not be taking these measures if we would not have been steered by a groundswell coming from the citizens,” he argued, when talking about the European Green Deal and all the action that’s being taken to address climate change, such as setting EU-wide targets for emissions reductions; plans to restore and protect biodiversity; plans to make consumer products more eco-friendly and combat greenwashing – among much more.
It all started from your calls, your demand for change, Timmermans reminded the audience. Therefore, now’s not the time to give up or despair – everyone must keep on applying pressure. Nor should people think that climate policy is only for “tofu-eating Tesla drivers.” It’s for everyone – and all action, no matter how big or small, can contribute to positive change.
Everyone on board
Climate Pact Ambassadors joined Executive Vice-President Timmermans on stage to showcase what work they’ve been doing over the last two years under the Pact. From innovation in the energy market, to tips on living a more environmentally-conscious lifestyle, to convincing the older generation to become climate activists – these three individuals shared their stories and called for more people to get involved.
"Lots of people have a false understanding about climate change and don't truly understand what will come if we don't change our lifestyle and mind-set.Grandmas like me see that we need change for future generations, and we're working for it,” said Anu Harkki from Activist Grannies Finland.
What if you’re representing a city or region, a community, sports or civil society group that wants to take climate action? Well, there’s lots to be done.
Morten Thorsby, Norwegian footballer, Climate Pact Ambassador and co-founder of We Play Green – an association working to green sport – talked about the individual and industry wide-action that still needs to be taken. “Football is a cross-cutting phenomenon. If we engage the football community, we can take on the climate crisis,” he said.
And when people are engaged with climate matters, then they will vote for change – for greener cities, for greener economies and societies, suggested Deputy-Mayor of Budapest and Climate Pact Ambassador Kata Tüttő.
It’s important not to focus only on those in urban areas, added Fons Janssen, Country Coordinator for the Climate Pact in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. We must connect with others outside the bubble, hear their views, help develop solutions, and inform them about the support – including EU support – that’s out there for the green transition.
One way of crossing traditional barriers and reaching new people is through social media, suggested student activist and Climate Pact Ambassador Marta Fandlová, who shared her experience on mobilising young people for climate action.
From small steps to systemic change
While citizens can drive positive change by making their voice heard and using their power as consumers, systemic change is needed at all levels to decarbonise the economy and make the green transition a reality. “Investing in fossil fuels now is like investing in horses and carts at the turn of the 20th century,” – it’s futile, argued economist and author Alessio Terzi.
The European Commission’s Deputy Director-General for Climate Action, Clara de la Torre, agreed – and stressed that legislation can help give a needed push, which is exactly what the EU is doing.
While climate action can seem daunting to many, Li An Phoa, founder of the community-led movement Drinkable Rivers argued that it can be helpful to go back to basics and ask fundamental questions such as “is my local river water drinkable? And, if not, what can I do to help make a change? Questions like this can be a compass for striving for a healthier climate and environment.”
But you can also get loud, get vocal, and join climate strikes. Each action taken by us can make a tangible difference, such as contributing to sea-levels rising not as much, or global temperatures not breaking records each year, argued activist and member of Fridays for Future Anika Dafert. “Every fraction of a degree matters.”
The European Climate Pact: Together in Action event was not just an opportunity to listen, but an opportunity for participants to ask questions, share stories and knowledge, network and come together to make climate action plans for the future – essentially the Pact in a nutshell. And over one million people have so far tuned in to watch the event.
If you missed out on the live discussion, you can watch the recording here. You can kick off your own climate action journey by making a Climate Pact pledge. And you can stay up to date with all our upcoming activities by registering for our newsletter and following us on social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.
- Publication date
- 6 February 2023