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#EP2019: Interview with Zlatimira Colova, Candidate of the Pan-European Party VOLT in Bulgaria for the EU-Elections

Zla­timi­ra Colo­va is the female lead can­di­date (num­ber 2) for a mem­ber of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment on the List of Volt Bul­gar­ia. Volt is the first polit­i­cal move­ment to adopt a sin­gle elec­tion pro­gramme for all Euro­pean coun­tries: The Ams­ter­dam Dec­la­ra­tion. The move­ment, which is present in 32  Euro­pean coun­tries, wants to build a more demo­c­ra­t­ic Europe able to over­come the daunt­ing chal­lenges fac­ing its cit­i­zens.

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

Despite being 36 years old, I belong to the gen­er­a­tion of Mil­lenials. In the past years, I realised that I expe­ri­ence an inter­gen­er­a­tional gap. What mine and younger gen­er­a­tions val­ue and depict as impor­tant to them doesn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly reflect in our rep­re­sen­ta­tion. I realised that the gap between me and politi­cians is because we don’t share the same vision for the future and because I don’t feel rep­re­sent­ed. Even when strik­ing for cli­mate jus­tice, young peo­ple are often labelled as too young or crit­i­cized for their look, but the real­i­ty is that they are edu­cat­ed, they are con­nect­ed through social media and exchange informed opin­ions on the IPCC report for exam­ple as well as about the fact that is their gen­er­a­tion and the next ones that will most suf­fer from the irre­spon­si­ble behav­iours of their parents .

Hence, it is very dif­fi­cult to con­vince young vot­ers to vote since they don’t feel there is any­one that would voice their con­cerns and would care for what they care. I expe­ri­ence that younger peo­ple are less focused on eco­nom­ic growth and con­sumerism, attempt­ing to live in a min­i­mal­ist way, con­cerned about the future of our plan­et, with envi­ron­ment pro­tec­tion and con­ser­va­tion, bio­gas, bioen­er­gy and waste man­age­ment at the cen­tre. They see the envi­ron­ment as a cen­tral play­er in the fight for clean air, ener­gy secu­ri­ty and emis­sions reduc­tion. In an inter­con­nect­ed world as ours this is indeed the case – our water resources, our oceans are all con­nect­ed. The con­se­quences con­cern us all: since 2008, an aver­age of 26.4 mil­lion per­sons around the world have been forcibly dis­placed by floods, wind­storms, earth­quakes or droughts. Pre­dic­tions are of 660,000 addi­tion­al asy­lum seek­ers com­ing to Europe each year by 2100. In the future we will have to face more dis­placed peo­ple and cli­mate refugees. 

This exam­ple is to show­case how events and poli­cies inter­twine and we need to focus on long term and sus­tain­able solu­tions rather than on pre-elec­tion quick fixes. 

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?

I endorse the map­ping of poli­cies that my par­ty has worked on and if elect­ed will put my ener­gy into mate­ri­al­is­ing our promis­es. Volt shares youth envi­ron­men­tal con­cerns and for this rea­son Volt chal­lenges the EU as well as Mem­ber State gov­ern­ments to take more con­crete actions to reduce dan­ger­ous emis­sion by:

  • Intro­duc­ing an EU-wide car­bon tax to favour the tran­si­tion of renew­able ener­gy over fos­sil fuels.  The tax needs to be care­ful­ly designed to make sure that no one is undu­ly bur­dened. The rev­enues and the cost sav­ings shall be used to fund rel­e­vant cli­mate mit­i­ga­tion and adap­ta­tion projects. 
  • Stop sub­si­diz­ing fos­sil-based fuels is need to phase out as effi­cient­ly as quick­ly as pos­si­ble (kerosene, diesel, coal and oth­er fos­sil-based fuels), includ­ing pro­hib­it new per­mits to drill for fos­sil fuels.
  • Speed up the tran­si­tion to more envi­ron­men­tal friend­ly ener­gy con­sump­tion in the trans­port sec­tor by means of shared mobil­i­ty, ban of diesel cars, mod­ern­iza­tion of the EU trans­port net­work as well in the build­ing sec­tor improv­ing the ener­getic per­for­mance of our build­ings and sup­port cost-effec­tive ener­gy effi­cien­cy measures.
  • Incen­tivize dis­in­vest­ment strate­gies of pub­lic and pri­vate financ­ing form fos­sil fuels and reori­ent them towards cli­mate friend­ly solutions.
  • Land preser­va­tion, restora­tion and for­est pro­tec­tion are key actions for a bold­er and much faster action to reduce our impacts on the envi­ron­ment and curb cli­mate change effects. VOLT intend to enhance and strength­en the  agro-cli­mat­ic mea­sures includ­ed in CAP.

Volt in line with the youth envi­ron­men­tal move­ment, requires an increase in the lev­el of ambi­tion of the EU and its members:

  • To set the ener­gy sav­ing tar­gets of the ener­gy effi­cien­cy direc­tive to a 40% (cur­rent­ly 30%) for 2030, thus to unlock secure invest­ment and cre­ate jobs. Fur­ther­more Volt pro­pos­es to extend the ener­gy effi­cien­cy oblig­a­tions to the trans­port sector.
  • To real­ly achieve a deep sys­tem­at­ic change of the way we pro­duce, trans­port and use ener­gy, Volt pro­pos­es to sus­tain the research and the devel­op­ment of smart elec­tric­i­ty grids at EU Lev­el with enhanced and har­mo­nized financ­ing of rel­e­vant infra­struc­ture also at local lev­el, like EU stor­age systems.

What are the “hot” top­ics regard­ing cli­mate change in the upcom­ing elections?

We sup­port and ral­ly along­side the youth call­ing for actions to fight cli­mate change. In a lit­tle bit over one year, many more young stu­dents have joined Gre­ta in his protest and are lead­ing move­ments in their coun­tries.  Dur­ing the last event in Rome (19th April) many EU young lead­ers met in Rome. In Den­mark, the #Fri­day­For­Future march­es have let the youth move­ments to cre­ate a youth cli­mate coun­cil (Unge Kli­ma Råd) which sub­mit­ted their pol­i­cy ideas to “the adult par­ties”. There has been already an increase in glob­al mean sur­face tem­per­a­ture of around 1°C above pre-indus­tri­al lev­els , and the world is cur­rent­ly aim­ing to a 5–6°C warm­ing at the end of the cen­tu­ry  and pos­si­ble feed­backs could accel­er­ate warm­ing to more than 12°C . Youth have been dis­cussing it and their protests are most­ly linked to the inac­tion of gov­ern­ments. Youth cam­paigns is focused on — tak­ing actions — like the school strike for climate. 

There is an increas­ing num­ber of stud­ies show­ing that a tran­si­tion based on 100% renew­able ener­gy to meet the Paris Agree­ment goals is pos­si­ble. This would be achieved through fur­ther deploy­ment of renew­able pow­er sources such as wind, solar, geot­her­mal and hydropow­er, devel­op­ment and imple­men­ta­tion of stor­age tech­nolo­gies, trans­mis­sion grid options, effi­cient ener­gy grid man­age­ment inte­grat­ed in a sec­tor cou­pled solu­tion with oth­er gas, hydro­gen and car­bon diox­ide grids, pow­er to X sys­tems and sus­tain­able bioen­er­gy lim­its. Also, the cur­rent fos­sil fuel infra­struc­ture would be used, as by adapt­ing nat­ur­al gas to sup­port hydro­gen and oth­er sus­tain­able fuels and stor­age gasses/liquids. The estab­lish­ment could counter-argue:

  • Cost of ener­gy and Cli­mate Tran­si­tion, “We can’t afford it”. IPCC reports pre­dicts that cli­mate change will cost the world up to 20% of glob­al GDP by 2100 if remain­ing in the “busi­ness as usu­al” sce­nario. On the con­trary tak­ing actions to lim­it glob­al warm­ing to 1.5 C can lever­age 2.4 tril­lion of invest­ments  and accord­ing to the inter­na­tion­al labor orga­ni­za­tion (ILO) 24 mil­ions jobs . Fur­ther­more appro­pri­ate pol­i­cy tools can help mobi­lize incre­men­tal resources. 
  • Chi­na, USA, India and oth­er coun­tries are still pol­lut­ing more: India and Chi­na are both strug­gling for dead­ly pol­lu­tion lev­els . Chi­na is tak­ing a num­ber of actions to reduce its emis­sions lim­it­ing the use of cars and ret­nìhink­ing ener­getic sup­plies , and USA is slow­ly decreas­ing its depen­den­cy on fos­sil fuels . There are evi­dences that the USA  are also con­sid­er­ing the “employ­ment effect” of cli­mate poli­cies as low car­bon tech­nolo­gies are more labor intensive. 

Yes, we believe that to uphold the EU’s sta­tus as a pio­neer for cli­mate pol­i­cy inno­va­tion, with all its asso­ci­at­ed eco­nom­ic advan­tages, it must seize the oppor­tu­ni­ty this year to com­mit to net zero before 2050 and update its 2030 cli­mate tar­gets in line with the Paris Agreement.

To recap: Volt rec­og­nize the urgency to fight cli­mate change. The IPCC report draws a clear mes­sage: the time for bold cli­mate action is today, not tomor­row and Volt will seek to embody its con­clu­sions into its pol­i­cy-mak­ing. Europe must act to avoid the worse effects of cli­mate change and strive to keep glob­al warm­ing to 1.5°C.

Indeed, we all agree that although there has already been progress in trans­lat­ing the Paris Agree­ment of 2015 into some spe­cif­ic poli­cies by the Euro­pean Union and its mem­bers, Volt wants to push the ener­gy and cli­mate tran­si­tion fur­ther and calls for a faster and bold­er EU response. Volt believes that the best way to achieve this in terms of reduced emis­sions and costs, effi­cien­cy and effec­tive­ness is through a unit­ed euro­pean plan applied to all of its regions. We want Europe to be an exam­ple to the rest of the world, show every­one that it is pos­si­ble, and be the leader in clean tech­nolo­gies. Volt’s vision is to live in a world in which clean ener­gy is part of the solu­tion. Volt envi­sions a world where indi­vid­u­als, cor­po­ra­tions and pub­lic enti­ties take more respon­si­bil­i­ty for the future of our young generations.

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

I think that we should all have access to our politi­cians, to feel heard and that our con­cerns are tak­en into con­sid­er­a­tion and not being neglect­ed. We are observ­ing the phe­nom­e­non of mov­ing away from rep­re­sen­ta­tive democ­ra­cy to a par­tic­i­pa­to­ry one. I per­son­al­ly would like to see more young politi­cians who are trans­par­ent and account­able and care to deliv­er on their promis­es (for exam­ple Julia Reda). At present, a lot of politi­cians serve indus­tri­al, big busi­ness and lob­by inter­ests that are not plac­ing cit­i­zens in the cen­tre. I believe that the main pur­pose of the Euro­pean Union besides being a polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic pol­i­cy mak­er should be to serve its cit­i­zens. A leader has to cre­ate a more car­ing and just world. The ser­vant-leader shares pow­er, puts the needs of oth­ers first and helps peo­ple devel­op and per­form as high­ly as pos­si­ble. (Robert K. Green­leaf). A leader can also be an insti­tu­tion and or an organ­i­sa­tion like the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment – dri­ving a change for­ward, based on the needs and val­ues of the cit­i­zens. There should be school sub­jects on cli­mate change, migra­tion and a for­sight on the future glob­al chal­lenges. In order to know what is best for us all, we need to inter­act more – there shouldn’t be such a dis­tance between politi­cians and cit­i­zens. As politi­cians are also citizens. 

I would vote for a per­son that I iden­ti­fy with rather than a par­ty list. As it is often peo­ple who cre­ate change rather than par­ty agendas. 

In your opin­ion, is giv­ing a vote enough?

Coun­tries like Ire­land, for exam­ple, have applied a very suc­cess­ful mod­el of cit­i­zens assem­blies. The Cit­i­zens’ Assem­bly is an exer­cise in delib­er­a­tive democ­ra­cy, plac­ing the cit­i­zen at the heart of impor­tant legal and pol­i­cy issues fac­ing soci­ety. Cit­i­zens can vote on what mat­ters to them and give con­sul­ta­tion on pol­i­cy direc­tion. I endorse to have more tools and mech­a­nisms for inter­ac­tion between politi­cians and cit­i­zens – for exam­ple live stream­ing city coun­cil meet­ing, face­book live and web-stream­ing of debates that are of greater con­cern. Anoth­er tool could be a col­lab­o­ra­tive space forum, a blog­ging and com­ment­ing style plat­form, direct con­sul­ta­tions and cit­i­zen dia­logues. A vote counts, but is not enough. We should all be more informed and involved in the co-cre­ation of our com­mon Euro­pean future. But it is also up to us to claim our space and take the pow­er in the hands of us as, the Citizens. 

Thank you for the interview!

Ein Gedanke zu „#EP2019: Interview with Zlatimira Colova, Candidate of the Pan-European Party VOLT in Bulgaria for the EU-Elections“

  1. A very good alter­na­tiv to Vote for and Not Just for Young peile, but also for old­er Peo­ple WHO also Work on sav­ing the Planet.

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