Michael Bloss is a climate activist and genuine European mind. He lead the Federation of Young European Greens and attended several UNFCCC negotiations inside the conference halls and outside on protests.
You have been engaged in national and international politics for many years now. Where does your interest in politics and especially the elections to the European Parliament come from? What is your main motivation?
Michael Bloss: I joined Greenpeace Youth in school. I thought it was was unfair that we live in wealth and pollute the planet, while others in less privileged geographies suffer from this pollution and do not have the same chances. I wanted to do something against it and unfortunately until today the situation has not really changed. What has changed since then is that the topic gets more attention now and people feel and see the catastrophic impact of the climate crisis as an example lasts years hot summer and the droughts and forest fires all over Europe.
Politics and in particular environmental problems do not stop at borders. Therefore I am fighting it on a European level, this is where we solve our common challenges. Europe has to lead in detoxing itself from fossil fuels in order for other regions to see that decarbonization is possible.
Doing politics is a big privilege and the challenges are huge. Our generation needs to transform this continent and make it climate compatible. The solutions how to stop the climate crisis are on the table since more than 10 years, but now time is changing. We are becoming more and we are getting stronger in the climate movement, we have learned to work together.We come together in a common struggle for our future, which creates solidarity and power. I truly believe that we can achieve a lot with this spirit.
How does your candidature relate to climate change and youth? What are your concrete plans to bring the European Union on a path towards more climate action and reaching the aims of the Paris Agreement?
Michael Bloss: I have been campaigning for climate action for a long time, I have been to the UNFCCC in Copenhagen and even before that time all the consequences of the climate crisis were already known. From a scientific view, it is ridiculous that we are still discussing about the how and the when. We could have started to stop climate crisis 20 years ago, but governments were not ready. What I see in this conflict is, that the inactivity is a political problem, not a scientific and our generation needs to be the one that stops this political inactivity.
Often, young activists on the streets have been the change, the world has been waiting for, and I think that FridaysForFuture (the international climate strike movement), has added whole new dynamic to the debate.
(Young people are asking the right questions like “will we still have snow in 50 years?” and are showing impressively how the climate situation is getting more and more precarious. With the determination of this movement, we can put a lot of pressure in negotiations in the next legislature in the European Parliament make the European legislation climate and planet compatible. The climate strike happenings during the last year gives me a lot of hope and I want to bring this strong dynamic to the European Parliament. )
There are many crucial things that we have to do. The most important is to make it more expensive to pollute the atmosphere with CO2 and other emissions. Therefore, we need a high price, at least 60 Euros per ton of CO2 emissions.
Phasing out coal and coal subsidies is way too slow in the European Union, we need a European wide phase out of coal by 2030 in order to be compatible with the Paris Agreement. Of course this needs a lot of investment in renewable-energies, public transport, improved heating systems and a social just transition. We need to stop supporting fossil fuels with subsidies. This costs Europe annually 55 billion Euros. We need to take this money and invest it in projects that enable a socially fair transition to a zero-emission world.
What are the “hot” topics regarding climate change in the upcoming elections?
Michael Bloss: When I am on panels, everyone says that the climate crisis is an important issue. This is also thanks to Greta Thunberg and the FridaysForFuture Movement. But what does it actually mean?
Liberals and conservatives are in favour of a price for CO2 Emissions, but their instruments are way to slow and a price for CO2 should not only work for Germany, nor the EU, but worldwide or at least amongst the G20.
We must must act now and the EU must lead the way, it is her historical duty. But not only this, we will benefit, if we develop future technology, create new solutions and new jobs and show a way how decentralization of the energy market can massively democratize municipalities and empower people. It is a win-win situation.
When it comes to targets the pro-climate rhetoric falls apart. The 2030 targets of the European Union are still at only 40 percent of CO2 reduction. What would be needed in order to reach the Paris Agreement is at least 55 percent. The CO2 reduction targets for cars have been a huge fight in Brussels, it was the conservatives and the car industry that blocked ambitious reduction goals. We know that the mobility sectors needs to change urgently. It is the only sector of the economy where CO2 emissions did not decline in the last years, this will be a big battleground in the future.
The same applies for the common agricultural policy. We spend the biggest part of the European budget on agriculture, however tackling climate change plays only a minor role. Approximately 80 percent of agriculture funds are dumped to the biggest producer with industrial meat production and monoculture farming models. Over 10 Percent of the European CO2 emissions come from agriculture and currently we incentivise the CO2 intensive production. However, the vote on the agricultural policy of the next 7 years is taken by the new parliament. Here is where our votes really matter.
Of course, phasing out of coal is a big topic in the new parliament. The old European Parliament decided that from 2025 onwards coal power plants must not receive subsidies anymore only to give Poland and other heavy coal producing countries a big loophole. They are still allowed to favour coal power, as long as they claim it to be needed for the stability of the grid. This takes us far away from the 2-degree goal and therefore must change as well. One of the big topics in the next parliament is to get the renewable transition started, also in the European East.
Socialdemocrats and the Left share with us Greens the aim that it is urgent. But they are stuck in old ideas. Instead of trying to preserve old jobs in the fossil industry, we have to invest in renewable energies that provide more and healthier jobs.
What should young people keep in mind while making their decision in the election?
Michael Bloss: Young people know very well what is important to them and what to vote for. Our planet and our society is not the same than 50 years ago. The average temperature rise has reached 1 degree in Germany our economic model is globalized and so are our environmental challenges. Nationalism won’t help, we have to develop new forms of global cooperation, new ways of sharing knowledge, technology and wealth in order to get everyone on board.
I believe in our times, it is not only about policy prepositions but also about how decisions are being taken. Old-fashioned politics do not care about the young generation´s perspective and this leads to policies that are harmful for our future. On the other hand we see that youth movements have developed very efficient democratic models that include every voice. A genuine and transparent style of doing politics matters a lot, it shows if politicians are serious with their proposals.
In your opinion, is giving a vote enough?
Michael Bloss: It would be great if everyone voted in the European parliamentary elections, but there are so many more ways to be active and influence our society. When it comes to the environment, movements have a big share in the huge changes that happened in the last years. Phasing out of nuclear energy and stopping the poisoning of our forests and rivers resulted from environmental activists. I strongly believe that current movements like the one about Hambacher Forest against coal mining or FFF will have a huge impact. Youth delegates during the international negotiations on climate change put pressure on national diplomats to be more ambitious; Scientists advance our knowledge and certainty on the climate catastrophe; journalists hold decision-makers accountable; NGOs counter the rhetoric of governments and show policy-makers what to do to preserve the planet. Our democracy needs a vibrant civil society to function and this makes us powerful!
Thank you for the interview!