By declaring a state of climate emergency, the European Parliament opened the door to excessive measures that could ultimately violate individual freedoms and erode democracy in the EU. The climate debate has become a political means to implement a populist agenda.
It is imperative to fight pollution and waste and ensure clean air and water. Yet it is no less important to uphold individual freedom, the rule of law and other values such as personal privacy and property rights.
Parliaments are tasked with representing the interests of the citizens. It is their duty to prevent governments and administrations from abusing their power, limiting individual rights, or compromising the prosperity of the country for political reasons. Therefore, parliaments should also make sure that public spending is limited to essential expenditures, and that budget regulations and taxes do not become excessive.
We are currently bombarded with apocalyptic news about climate change. NGOs have become the high priests of a climate religion and they warn that humanity will end unless extreme targets are reached – at any cost, including legal, economic, social and even environmental consequences. As a result, harmful practices are adopted: cultivation based on unscientific and excessive principles, which damages sustainable forests and lands; uneconomical recycling because of overregulation; consumer protection measures leading to waste; and enforced use of electric cars while the pollution caused by their batteries has yet to be solved. People who disagree with these claims are intimidated verbally or even physically. Schoolchildren, misled by the alarmist disinformation, demonstrate in crusade-like rallies.
Hands-on, on-the-ground action against pollution is needed, not theories and feel-good targets.
Some go as far as to argue that denying or belittling whatever is declared to be “climate change” should be prosecuted. Many media organizations are covering the topic from a hysterical, rather than fact-based, perspective. Politics now revolve around blind activism, abandoning long-term strategies to limit waste. Hands-on, on-the-ground action against pollution is needed, not theories and feel-good targets.
The current approach is to request immediate measures, regardless of whether they are useful, or even potentially harmful.
This activism has reached the European Parliament. Strasbourg declared the following: “Ahead of the UN COP25 Climate Change Conference in Madrid 2-13 December, the Parliament on Thursday approved a resolution declaring a climate and environmental emergency in Europe and globally.”
Declaring a state of emergency has critical consequences. It allows governments to introduce measures outside of the normal constitutional and legal procedures, and enables them to violate individual rights. Some moderate members of the European Parliament who wanted to change the term “emergency” to the more appropriate “urgency” were marginalized. (It was mostly Germans who were concerned, as an emergency rule in the early 1930s allowed the Nazis to assume power.)
Fear is spreading and radicalizing society.
Further theoretical targets were set to try to camouflage the totalitarian aspect of requesting an emergency status, not only for Europe, but also the world. In addition, the Parliament requested that the European Commission align all relevant legislative and budget proposals to limit global warming to under 1.5 °C.
In a separate resolution, the Parliament urged the EU to submit its strategy to reach climate neutrality as soon as possible, by 2050, at the latest, to the UN Convention Framework on Climate Change. Parliament members called on the new European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to include a 55 percent greenhouse gas reduction target by 2030 in her upcoming European Green Deal.
The resolution was adopted by a broad majority of Liberals, Greens, Socialists and others from the left, but also by some members of the European People's Party (EPP). The European Conservatives and Reformists were against. Czech representative and GIS expert Alexandr Vondra stated that: “Ramping up the rhetoric does not get us away from the serious discussions that now need to take place.”
The EPP’s environmental spokesman, Peter Liese, was highly concerned, calling the climate “emergency” a “fake debate” meant to detract from real decision-making. “There is an urgency to act, but no state of emergency to declare. Emergency can also be interpreted as undermining fundamental rights, like freedom of press and democracy,” he added.
The measures necessary to fight pollution and waste are being replaced by activism.
The situation is critical. Parliaments are not fully assuming their duties. Fear is spreading and radicalizing society. The measures necessary to fight pollution and waste are being replaced by activism.
The climate discussion has degenerated into a populist tool to introduce socialist solutions and central bureaucratic planning. Many clearly state that the free market system should be abolished. Lessons from the atrocities and absurdities of the inhumane Soviet system, which collapsed only 30 years ago, are already lost. Citizens are becoming subjects. Individual rights, freedom of speech and opinion, and property rights are being sacrificed. Out of populism, irresponsibility and a lack of courage, parliaments (not only the one in Strasbourg) are betraying their duty to defend the freedom and legitimate interests of citizens – a mission that includes the introduction of real and effective measures to protect the environment.