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#EP2019: Interview with Michael Bloss, Candidate of the German Greens in the EU-Elections

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!

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