Malte Fiedler joined the German left party DIE LINKE in 2007 and is now one of their candidates to the European Parliament. He works for a Europe of solidarity: socially just, ecologically sustainable, peaceful and democratic.
You have been engaged in national politics for a lot of years now. Where does your interest in politics and especially the elections to the European Parliament come from? What is your main motivation?
Malte Fiedler: I became a political activist, because I had to. If you are young and not only busy with yourself, you see that so much is going wrong in the world today: poverty, war, social injustice, destruction of our nature, etc. I decided, that I do not want to accept this anymore. Many of the challenges we are facing today, like climate change, can only be solved on an international level. Therefore the political direction in which the European Union develops becomes increasingly important. At the moment big corporations are well organised on the European level. They have been very successful in securing their profit interests at the expense of social injustice and overexploitation of our planet. On the other hand, progressive political forces struggling for social and ecological rights have been too weak. Therefore there is a need for progressive candidates who care about our future and our planet and not only for themselves or the interests of corporations and wealthy people, concerned only of the growth rate of the numbers on their bank accounts.
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?
Malte Fiedler: It is not the political elite of today, but the young generations who will have to deal with the severe consequences of climate change in the future. If we act now, it is not too late to achieve the aims of the Paris Agreement. We have to stop the burning of coal as the dirtiest fossil fuel by 2030. The European Left wants to achieve a 100 percent renewable energy supply by 2040. However, the decarbonisation of our economy will not be free of conflict because there are many actors who profit from the fossil fuel based energy system. As a future member of the European Parliament I want to support all social forces – environmental movements, NGOs, progressive trade unions, etc. – demanding serious climate action.
What are the “hot” topics regarding climate change in the upcoming elections?
Malte Fiedler: If we take the fight against climate change seriously, we need to transform our capitalist economy. We need to establish new modes of production and living. This transformation implies a shift of power away from the big corporations that hold control over the energy supply with fossil fuels and nuclear power, towards more democratic forms of production, distribution and consumption of energy. We need an energy transition towards 100 percent renewable energy and have to increase energy efficiency. Instead of an EU internal energy market, we need a decentralised energy system based on renewables, as it is the best answer to the challenge of energy security in terms of dependency on imports and the vulnerability of long transmission infrastructure.
Further we need more, better and cheaper public transport and an efficient railway network throughout Europe instead of individualised motorised forms of transportation and air traffic. At the same time, we have to combine the question of social justice with the demands for ecological sustainability. For the EU this means that we have to fight energy poverty and take care of a just transition for all people in Europe still working in the fossil fuel or the car industry. No worker and no region can be left alone on the railroad towards a low-carbon economy. In order to achieve these goals, we need public investments in the social-ecological transformation of our economy. The European Left demands an EU-wide investment program of 500 billion EUR annually to enforce the social-ecological transformation of the European economies.
Unfortunately not considered a “hot” topic and thus often left out of the debate is climate justice. Climate change is also a social and ecological justice issue between the early industrialised North and the Global South. We have to increase technology transfer and financial means for development cooperation to support the countries of the Global South on their sustainable development paths.
What should young people keep in mind while making their decision in the election?
1.) It is not fear but hope for something new which is leading to a brighter future. There are alternatives to our capitalist economy and there are alternatives to our fossil fuel based energy system. The rules how our economy and society functions today are made by people, so they can be changed by people. However, we will only be successful if we do not fear to go in conflict with profit interests of big corporations and if we are not scared of changing our existing modes of living.
2.) Be aware of politicians telling you the free market is the solution to everything. By contrast, the failure of our free market economy in terms of ecological sustainability and social justice is the reason for the mess we are in.
3.) Do not count on false solutions: It will not be enough to give our capitalist economy a new stylish green design, but continue striving for unlimited economic growth on a planet with limited resources and a limited capacity of sinks for our waste and pollution.
4.) We have to combine social and ecological issues in order to create a better future for all people on our planet.
In your opinion, is giving a vote enough?
Malte Fiedler: Democracy is more than participation in elections every four or five years. Giving a vote to a social and ecological progressive party – like DIE LINKE — is good, but not enough. 1.) Get active: Participate in the Fridays for future demonstrations, talk with friends and family about politics. 2.) Get organised: there are many organisations out there fighting for a better future for the people and our planet. You must move yourself to move politics.
Thank you for the interview!