COP24 Katowice: young people call for climate justice
Climate change is an imminent threat to young people’s livelihoods and future. The European Youth Forum, representing more than 100 youth organisations and tens of millions of young people from all over Europe, calls on all governments, as well as on the European Union (EU), to commit to climate action to meet the Paris Agreement. COP24, currently taking place in Katowice, is crucial in this regard.
To support this action, the EU must revise its 2030 climate target, and adopt a long-term and ambitious target for net zero carbon emissions in line with the 1.5°C goal.
Climate justice now!
For young people, climate change is a matter of justice. It is those who are already vulnerable due to their economic status, age, race and gender identity who are feeling the worst impacts of climate change and have least access to decision-making.
Pathways towards climate justice.
Financial means must be allocated to ensure a fast, comprehensive and just transition to a net zero carbon economy and to renewable energy. Institutions must end harmful subsidies for fossil fuels and divest from fossil fuel companies. To ensure that investments correspond to a fair, sustainable and equitable vision of the future, they should be guided by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
We need to shift from our current linear economic model towards a circular economy. The goal must be to keep resources in use as long as possible, reducing waste creation and exploitation of the Earth. To achieve this, all sectors should be included. Measures enabling the creation of new circular business models, products and services must be supported. The new jobs these models could create are an essential opportunity to provide young people with meaningful employment.
Beyond this, a larger shift to a critique of extractivism and a culture of sufficiency is vital. We urgently need a discussion on alternative economic models that are not based on GDP growth. The EU and European governments must move towards alternative measures of progress that reflect the real wellbeing of people and the health of our planet. Tools like the Youth Progress Index, one of the first instruments developed to give the full story of what life is like for a young person today, independent of economic indicators, must be used and supported.
Education can change the world
Educating young people about the roots, impacts and solutions of climate change is crucial to empower them to take climate actions. We urge European leaders to implement and support education for sustainable development in formal and non-formal settings, equipping students and young people with the knowledge and competences to shape a just and sustainable future.
The role of young people and youth organisations
Youth organisations are key in fostering the intergenerational dialogue that is necessary to face the climate crisis. For a common understanding of the risks and the opportunities it can give to build a fair, peaceful and sustainable Europe, the participation and commitment of all generations is required.
Young people have the right to participate in the decisions shaping their own future. Action or inaction from governments on climate change will have a huge impact on that future. The right to participate must therefore be guaranteed in policy processes relating to climate change and sustainable development. The European Youth Forum also urges all governments to include youth in their delegations, through cooperation with National Youth Councils and equivalent youth organisations.
The urgency of the situation requires a dramatic shift in our priorities. For the EU, the European Parliament elections next year provide a crucial opportunity to prioritise the wellbeing of people, future generations and the planet in all decisions and policies. Young people possess the energy, creativity and passion to create a new pathway for a sustainable Europe. Collective action is the only way to achieve a sustainable world. We invite governments, EU institutions and all relevant actors to work with us to shape our common future.