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STATE OF THE UNION 2021: Praise for youth climate leadership must be matched with action to phase-out fossil fuels

15 September 2021
by foeeurope -- last modified 15 September 2021

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen today delivered her State of the Union address in the European Parliament in Strasbourg. She said Europe should follow the leadership of young people and go further and faster to tackle the the climate crisis, but did not offer any new commitments to phase-out fossil fuels.


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Responding to the speech, Jagoda Munic, director of Friends of the Earth Europe said:

"Ursula von der Leyen has a mandate for action to build back a better Europe from the pandemic – to offer a fairer, greener future – but she's yet to really use it.

"She rightly praised the leadership of young people on the climate crisis, but the commitment they are looking for, to end the era of gas and other fossil fuels, was glaringly absent. 

"This Commission is over-relying on failed market-mechanisms and unproven technofixes to 'clean' our polluting and unfair energy system. After a summer of lethal floods and fires, we need immediate action to end to funding for fossil fuels, including fossil gas. In her remaining time in office the Commission President must stand up to corporate lobbyists and phase-out fossil fuels completely, and put proven democratic solutions, like community renewables and agroecology, at the heart of the shift to an economy within Earth's limits."

Vaccine apartheid

Ursula von der Leyen praised the bloc's success in vaccinating its citizens against Covid-19, and said its next priority was to speed-up vaccination in the rest of the world. Jagoda Munic commented:

"We are witnessing a global vaccine apartheid. People in the Global South least responsible for the climate crisis and least protected from it, are now being left unprotected from the pandemic. This compounding of injustice is at odds with European values and solidarity. Rather than rely on vaccine donations, the European Commission must do everything in its power to make vaccines and treatments a global public good, freely accessible to everyone."

Friends of the Earth Europe is the largest grassroots environmental network in Europe, uniting more than 30 national organisations with thousands of local groups. The European arm of Friends of the Earth International represents the network at the heart of the European Union and campaigns for sustainable solutions to benefit the planet, people and our future.

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