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#EP2019: Interview with Laura Fagerlund, Member of Svensk Ungdom

Lau­ra Fager­lund is the Head of the Inter­na­tion­al Com­mit­tee of the Swedish Youth of Fin­land, the youth orga­ni­za­tion to the lib­er­al par­ty Swedish People’s Par­ty. She is 24 years old and study­ing Polit­i­cal Sci­ence. She has been active in pol­i­tics for around four years, most­ly on the glob­al are­na, focus­ing on sus­tain­able development.

Where does your inter­est in pol­i­cy, pol­i­tics and espe­cial­ly the elec­tions to the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment come from? What is your main moti­va­tion to engage yourself? 

Lau­ra Fager­lund: I was intro­duced to inter­na­tion­al youth pol­i­tics through a friend. My friend and I share the same pas­sion for cli­mate change pol­i­cy, and she also intro­duced me to her inter­na­tion­al net­work of young cli­mate change activists. I noticed how ben­e­fi­cial it is to be active in pol­i­tics, both pro­fes­sion­al­ly and per­son­al­ly, so I con­tin­ued down that path. Now, being active in inter­na­tion­al youth orga­ni­za­tions is a huge part of my life. My inter­est in the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment comes from my belief in inter­na­tion­al coop­er­a­tion, and this par­tic­u­lar elec­tion is inter­est­ing because of Finland’s upcom­ing EU pres­i­den­cy, Brex­it, and mem­ber states’ coop­er­a­tion to reach the 1,5 tar­get. I am moti­vat­ed to engage myself because I want to work in an inter­na­tion­al envi­ron­ment. Work­ing inter­na­tion­al­ly gives me per­spec­tive and devel­ops my skills in inter­cul­tur­al com­mu­ni­ca­tion. I also tru­ly believe that inter­na­tion­al coop­er­a­tion is the only way for­ward and the only way to reach sustainability.

What are your con­crete sug­ges­tions regard­ing cli­mate change pol­i­cy at EU lev­el towards can­di­dates to the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment? What would a can­di­date need to promise you to make you vote for her/his party? 

Lau­ra Fager­lund: First­ly, I think it is extreme­ly impor­tant that every­body coop­er­ates, no mat­ter what their par­ty mem­ber­ship is or what their ide­ol­o­gy is. Com­bat­ing cli­mate change is some­thing that every­body must agree on, and there is no time to make this a par­ti­san issue. Sec­ond­ly, I hope that effort will be put into devel­op­ing the Emis­sions Trad­ing Sys­tem. It must be enlarged, so it also includes agri­cul­ture, trans­port, build­ings and waste dis­pos­al. The sys­tem needs to be glob­al. Third­ly, the EU should also put effort in a smooth tran­si­tion to elec­tric and bio­gas-fuelled cars. Fourth­ly, it is fun­da­men­tal to take the diver­si­ty of the Euro­pean Union into con­sid­er­a­tion. From the Finnish per­spec­tive, we need to sup­port healthy forests and a healthy Baltic Sea. We must also real­ize a just tran­si­tion for the Sámi peo­ple. Last­ly, a har­mo­nized Euro­pean ener­gy mar­ket must be implemented. 

My EP can­di­date must promise to work across all par­ties to reach a path towards the 1,5 tar­get. The can­di­date must under­stand the urgency of reach­ing sus­tain­able devel­op­ment, and she/he must have a dia­logue with all rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers and experts to imple­ment poli­cies. The can­di­date also needs to bring atten­tion to the impor­tance of a just transition.

What are the “hot” top­ics regard­ing cli­mate change in your coun­try? How do they poten­tial­ly affect the upcom­ing Elections? 

Lau­ra Fager­lund: We recent­ly had nation­al elec­tions, and one of the main top­ics was cli­mate change. Young peo­ple have been demon­strat­ing in front of the Finnish Par­lia­ment because they want Fin­land to be more ambi­tious in reach­ing the 1,5 tar­get. Many par­ties have embraced this, and eight out of nine par­ties in the Par­lia­ment made an agree­ment on how to com­bat cli­mate change. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, a right pop­ulist par­ty did not agree on this, and also turned the top­ic of cli­mate change into a clas­sic “the peo­ple vs the elite” dis­cus­sion. While many par­ties focus on the impor­tance of healthy car­bon sinks, cir­cu­lar econ­o­my, envi­ron­men­tal­ly friend­ly heat­ing in build­ings, and a shar­ing econ­o­my, this pop­ulist par­ty demonis­es the oth­er par­ties. Accord­ing to the pop­ulist par­ty, the oth­er par­ties put too much respon­si­bil­i­ty on the “com­mon Finn”, even though there are oth­er coun­tries with much high­er GHG emis­sions that should do more than Fin­land does. I believe this dis­cus­sion will con­tin­ue dur­ing the EU elec­tions. Pop­ulists will turn the issue around and ask ques­tions such as: Who is respon­si­ble for the GHG emis­sions? Does Fin­land need to do more, even though there are oth­er coun­tries that are even less ambi­tious than Finland?

What should young peo­ple keep in mind while mak­ing their deci­sion in the elec­tion to the Euro­pean Parliament?

Lau­ra Fager­lund: Young peo­ple should remem­ber the ben­e­fits of the Euro­pean Union, and how much the poli­cies imple­ment­ed in the Euro­pean Union affects them. I think it is impor­tant that open-mind­ed, com­pe­tent can­di­dates with skills in net­work­ing and lead­er­ship are elect­ed. Young peo­ple should keep in mind which val­ues are impor­tant for them and make their deci­sions accord­ing to that.

In your opin­ion, is giv­ing a vote enough?

Lau­ra Fager­lund: Yes, it is. Some peo­ple are less inter­est­ed in pol­i­tics, and don’t want to be active in the field. Oth­er peo­ple are very inter­est­ed in pol­i­tics, and are active in many more ways than vot­ing. It is com­plete­ly up to one­self to decide whether they want to be active in oth­er ways than vot­ing in elections.

Thank you for the interview!

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