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Green Party Setbacks in EU Elections Raise Concerns Over Green Deal

June 11, 2024
Green Party Setbacks in EU Elections Raise Concerns Over Green Deal

In times of volatility, Corporate Sustainability Leadership guides legislation and successfully manages internal and external risks. Sustainable profitability, the rule of law, cooperation between enterprises, civil society and governments are the greatest assets to respond to the public concerns for Europe’s future. The recent European Parliament elections have drawn widespread attention, with provisional results indicating significant losses for Green parties. The Guardian reports that these setbacks have raised fears about the future of the continent’s climate ambitions. Projections place the Green faction from fourth to sixth place, holding 53 seats, amidst a broader shift to the right.

Green Party Setbacks in EU Elections Raise Concerns Over Green Deal

In Germany, traditionally a Green stronghold, the party’s vote share has nearly halved since the 2019 elections, dropping by 8.5 percentage points to 12%. Similarly, in France, where the far right is leading and President Emmanuel Macron called snap elections, support for the Greens also fell by the same margin. Despite these losses, the Greens achieved smaller victories in other countries. In Denmark, they gained an additional seat, bringing their total to three, and in Sweden, they maintained their three seats. Additionally, a Green-Left coalition narrowly outperformed the far-right in the Netherlands.

Bas Eickhout, one of the Green party’s lead candidates, remains optimistic despite the projected results. He has pledged to advocate for an accelerated Green Deal. The 2019 elections saw an unusually strong performance from the Greens, driven by student protests led by Greta Thunberg, which put climate change at the forefront of political discourse. However, current concerns over war and economic instability appear to have overshadowed environmental issues for many voters.

Politico highlights that the recent elections were favorable for center-right and far-right parties while being particularly challenging for liberals and greens. The next five years are crucial for Europe to meet its 2030 climate targets, and the newly elected European Parliament will play a significant role in shaping these efforts. There are concerns that a more climate-skeptical parliament could introduce loopholes to weaken existing climate laws, including the phase-out of new combustion engine cars by 2035.

Reuters notes that the European Parliament will negotiate with EU countries on a new, legally binding target to cut emissions by 2040, setting the course for future policies to curb emissions across various sectors, including farming, manufacturing, and transport.

Ahead of the elections, the Daily Telegraph reported that surging hard-right parties are plotting to dismantle EU net-zero laws. Green politicians warned that nationalist forces could undermine the bloc’s 2050 zero-carbon target, much like they have influenced European migration policy. Philippe Lamberts, co-president of the European Greens, expressed concerns about the impact of right-wing parties on new and existing green legislation.

The New York Times highlighted how a climate backlash influenced the election campaigns in Europe, warning that a shift away from green policies could have global repercussions. DeSmog identified prominent falsehoods about green reforms in food and agriculture that dominated the election campaigns. Meanwhile, the Financial Times examined how Italy’s far-right prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, is slowing down the country’s solar energy rollout.

As the European Parliament elections conclude, the potential impact on the Green Deal and broader climate initiatives remains a critical concern, with global implications hinging on the direction European climate policy will take in the coming years.


Political Consensus Fuels Progress Towards Carbon Neutrality in Europe

Europe has made significant strides towards carbon neutrality, particularly in the energy sector, where political consensus has played a pivotal role. The broader geopolitical landscape, notably Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has galvanized Europe to reduce its dependence on Russian gas. This urgency has been channeled through initiatives like REPowerEU, which aims to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy sources across the continent.

A substantial 74% of sustainability experts interviewed believe that the EU’s efforts in promoting decarbonized energy will significantly contribute to achieving the bloc’s 2050 climate neutrality target. This optimism stems from the robust policy framework and the clear strategic direction prompted by recent geopolitical events. However, not all Green Deal policies have enjoyed the same level of political backing. The survey reveals that 62% of respondents identify the ‘insufficient commitment of member state governments’ as a primary barrier to transforming the Green Deal into concrete, approved legislation.

The upcoming Commission is encouraged to focus on filling the existing gaps by fostering stronger political will and cooperation among member states. This includes addressing the challenges in less supported areas of the Green Deal and ensuring that ambitious targets translate into actionable and enforceable measures.

Overall, while Europe has made commendable progress in sectors where political consensus exists, the journey towards full carbon neutrality requires a more cohesive and committed approach across all policy areas. The future success of the Green Deal will depend heavily on the next Commission’s ability to galvanize support and implement effective strategies to overcome the current obstacles.

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