Why? The increase in vote share can be attributed to the priorities shifting towards pro-EU and green-friendly policies. As global temperatures reach devastating levels, the discourse surrounding climate action is calling for urgency. The so-called ‘Green Wave’ is spreading across Europe with teenagers – like activist Greta Thunberg – actively getting involved through school strikes and large groups like the UK’s Extinction Rebellion seizing national attention. With the Greens taking fourth place in European Parliament, many are hoping that this is the push needed to achieve real climate action. The European Union have already called for key targets to be reached by 2030 including a 40% cut to greenhouse gas emissions, 32% share for renewable energy and a 32.5% improvement in energy efficiency. Yet studies have shown that, without far-reaching changes, global warming will continue to escalate with precarious global implications.

What’s Next?

Will the Green party rise to the challenge? More importantly, now that so many Europeans have pointed out that concern for the environment is a priority for them, will the larger political families also enforce sustainability policies as a priority across the continent? The EPP won most seats in the 2019 European Parliament and thus remains the most influential political family in Europe. It led a campaign focused on listening tours thus demonstrating its willingness to adapt according to Europeans’ needs. French president’s Macron has made his commitment to sustainability policies very well known too, despite political costs after his efforts for cleaner (and currently more expensive) energy led to higher fossil fuel prices and triggered the yellow vest protests. Politically, it is highly likely that Europe will indeed see a positive turn towards more urgent action against climate change. The UK drafted its own Environment Act in December 2018, though meanwhile, it is so far failing to fulfil 14 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals it had committed to within the United Nations framework. As the UK has expressed its intention to leave the EU, with the deadline extended to October 31, we may see some positive competition between the UK and EU on who spearheads the fight against climate change.  ]]>

Edward Cowley