"Urgent need for a global response to strengthen the resilience of our planet."
In her previous life, Catherine Chabaud, a French MEP, was a navigator. A fervent protector of the ocean, it is essential for her to keep a fundamental objective in this Covid-19 crisis: that of a recovery that respects our environmental commitments.
How is the Green Deal weakened by the coronavirus crisis?
Before anything else, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those unsung heroes and heroines who have been fighting on the front, second or third line every day for many weeks to save our lives and keep our economy afloat. In the midst of a storm, these people are staying the course. Their dedication is admirable.We have an individual and collective responsibility to rise to the occasion in our response to the crisis and in the world we are preparing for tomorrow.Let me now answer your question more specifically.
The Green Deal was the objective that the European Union had set itself until the emergence of Covid-19, an ambitious project that united European citizens around a concrete objective: to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.The idea was to commit the European Union to a green transition that would create jobs, based on the restoration of ecosystems and the boosting of eco-innovations.In the face of the Covid 19 crisis, opposing forces seem to be acting behind the scenes to distort our initial objectives and empty the European response of its ecological commitments. However, it is more crucial than ever to stay the course, or even to accelerate it or change it in the light of the lessons of the crisis.We must prepare the Europe of tomorrow and already consider the end of the crisis as an opportunity to replace our approach and speed up the ecological transition at European level. As such, the economic recovery package proposed by the EU will tell us more about the nature of the objectives pursued. Today, there is a real risk that the Green Deal will be one of the major sacrifices of the economic response of European StatesTogether with the French Renaissance delegation, I am mobilised to ensure that the climate and environmental objectives that we set ourselves at European level before the crisis last, are maintained, strengthened and accelerated in the post-crisis response. On this subject, our determination is total, because our common future is at stake!
Do you think that lobbies - like the plastics industry - will be able to get certain measures, such as banning the use of single-use plastics, to be changed?
The rubbish that I came across in the middle of the ocean, during my first Atlantic crossing in 1991, is at the origin of my political and citizen struggle for sustainable development. I didn't say to myself "Where are the terrible polluters?", but rather "How did we get there collectively?"Among this waste, many plastic products are then ingested by marine animals and accelerate the degradation of natural ecosystems. By 2050, if the curve is not reversed, there will be more tons of plastic than fish in the ocean. Let me remind you, the ocean is our lung, the ocean feeds the planet: there can be no healthy humanity if the ocean is sick.
I have confidence in the EU, which I believe is the right level of governance to combat plastic pollution.Last year, a formidable battle was won by the European Commission against the plastics lobbies, with the implementation of the directive on single-use plastics, which will ban products such as plastic straws, plates, cutlery, cups and cotton buds from the European market from 2021.This first victory is a strong signal for Europe and its citizens. It must be followed by others if we want to respond to the challenges and strengthen the resilience of our planet in the face of climate change.
In addition to this directive, the strategy on the circular economy needs to be updated and consolidated.Concerning this issue, there is much more to be done. There is a need to take a systemic approach and to focus not only on reducing (or eliminating) plastics at source, but also to track them so that they never become litter and to promote the recovery of all waste more generally. We must appeal to the responsibility of all stakeholders, companies of course, but also communities and citizens.
More generally, some national and private interests may remain an obstacle to the ecological transition initiated by Ursula von der Leyen's new European Commission. However, we must rely on the parties who are already committed to the transition, promote good practices and initiate virtuous spirals. Here again, there are several of us in the European Parliament, particularly in our Renew group, who are mobilising on this subject to ensure that the EU stays on the right track.
Is there not a worrying risk that the health crisis and the economic crisis will be accompanied by an even greater climate crisis? What would be the consequences of abandoning the initial ambitions of the Green Deal?
It is now scientifically proven that the health, environmental and climate crises are all interconnected. The current socio-economic crisis, which is unprecedented in our recent history, reveals the consequences of not addressing the global environmental crisis.Let us recall that the historic melting of "permafrost" (the frozen land of the polar regions) could release viruses unknown until now.Let us also recall that the destruction of biodiversity on a global scale increases the risk of contagion between wild animals and humans.Climate change and the loss of biodiversity are accelerating the proliferation of viruses, which must alert us and prepare us for the multiplication of future health crises.
There is therefore an urgent need for a global response, at European and global level, to strengthen the resilience of our planet. To this end, let us stop thinking and acting in silos. The answer lies in balancing the pillars of sustainable development (social, economic and environmental aspects) and, in particular, in speeding up the ecological transition, embodied at European level by the Green Deal roadmap. Abandoning our initial ambitions as set out in the Green Deal would have dramatic consequences for Europe and would hasten the end of our common adventure, considering that each country would take a different direction. The Green Deal is therefore both a unifying, inclusive and resilient European project, capable of putting all our citizens in a common cause, and a unique opportunity to promote and lead the ecological transition at the global level.
What do you suggest to avoid this scenario and do you think it is possible to turn this crisis into an opportunity for a genuine green revolution ?
This question addresses a broader challenge: What do we want for tomorrow's Europe? And in contrast, what do we no longer want? The crisis has taught us some very important lessons such as the need for solidarity at all levels, the awareness of our individual and collective responsibility for the condition of the planet, the call for genuine European sovereignty in the areas of food, health, industry, digital technology and energy, but also the need to build a more resilient Europe, anticipating crises and taking into account our natural and organisational ecosystems. These values, which emerge in times of confinement, encourage more cooperation, more leadership, and therefore more Europe! From this point of view, the European Union must communicate better on everything it carries and finances. The European Green Deal project, led by the President of the European Commission, is an excellent way of providing a common response to all crises. I am particularly keen to strengthen its maritime dimension.
Our roadmap will have to be clear to carry out this process. I am therefore convinced that the sustainable development objectives, set by the United Nations since 2015, can become the backbone of this Green Deal: SDOs are a universal reading grid shared by all at the international level. The European ship needs an ambitious, inclusive and innovative, ecological and resilient course. In 2020, let's make no mistake: more than the future of the European Union, it is the survival of our planet that is at stake, and to it is our humanity that is connected.