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Open Society Foundations Welcome European Climate Pact, Call for Greater Inclusion of Civil Society

BRUSSELS—The European Commission today launches the European Climate Pact, the nonlegislative, public-facing aspect of the European Green Deal, that invites people, communities, and organizations to connect and share knowledge; to learn about climate change; and to develop, implement, and scale up solutions.

“The involvement of European citizens is central to ensuring an ambitious and fair approach to climate policy and actions that benefits everyone,” commented Heather Grabbe, director of the Open Society European Policy Institute.

Grabbe continued: “The Climate Pact should mark the beginning of vibrant democratic engagement on the detailed measures needed to move the European economy to zero carbon. We urge the European Commission to commit explicit support for climate assemblies and other deliberative processes to bring local knowledge into co-creation of policies and to deepen understanding at all levels of society.”

The European Climate Pact promises to directly connect all levels of government with civil society and Europe’s citizens. To ensure this ambitious and worthy goal is realized, the Open Society European Policy Institute calls for:

  • explicit and structural support for effective climate assemblies—deliberative mini-fora including citizens from all walks of life—or similar mechanisms
  • expansion of existing multi-stakeholder platforms to include not just civil society, but MEPs, the European Council, the European Commission, and business leaders; or establish a new platform for the Climate Pact that includes all these stakeholders
  • ensure the Climate Pact becomes the go-to forum for advice and information on access to the Just Transition Funds, designed to help regions currently relying mostly on fossil fuels and carbon-intensive industries
  • renewed efforts by the European Commission to engage a cross-section of citizens including older people and those without a higher education background, who are less likely to be engaged with climate action

Recent research by the Open Society European Policy Institute and independent think tank dlpart shows that younger people and those with a higher educational background are already the most convinced of the need for climate action. Overall, younger people tend to be more likely to expect negative impacts of climate change on their lives—with strong representation in Germany (36 percent), Italy (46 percent), Spain (43 percent), and the United Kingdom (36 percent). Across age groups in Sweden, for example, there is a real disparity between young and old people, where 29 percent of those aged 18–34 think there will be negative effects for them by 2035, whereas just 19 percent of 55- to 74-year-olds share this view.

“The European Climate Pact needs to engage civil society in the design and implementation of climate policy. Deliberative assemblies are a great way of convening a cross-section of citizens. The EU also needs a forum where civil society, business, and politicians can discuss system changes together. The Commission cannot design this massive transition alone, and it needs to bring together the expertise in one forum rather than on separate tracks,” commented Grabbe.

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