Climate Change – what priorities for sustainable development ?

Climate change is the largest single threat to current and future generations. Many are seriously worried about these climate changes, which afflict everybody to different degrees. It is the poor, particularly in developing countries, who suffer the most as they are the least able to prepare for climate change or to avoid its consequences. We are reaching the ‘point of no return’ when irreversible changes will take place – or have already taken place – and dominoes will fall, making it impossible to control future developments. Climate change is attributable to the dominant economic model and the pursuit of profit maximisation and growth at all costs. EPSU favours the mainstreaming of the fight against climate change in EU policy and legislation, development cooperation and investment decisions with clear and ambitious targets. Principles of just transition towards a low or even zero carbon society including for workers concerned based on employment alternatives and training, should be integrated in EU policy.

Public services play a central role in responding to climate change in both the short and long term. They hold the key to shifting from a paradigm of productivity and financial profitability to one of well-being and responding to needs. Public services have an equalising effect on income and well-being and can provide certain services such as healthcare more efficiently than private operators because they focus resources where they are needed. Green transition, the replacement of fossil fuels with renewable energies and energy efficient solutions and other climate actions are part of the solution to the economic crisis. The public sector is responsible for the very services that will be of increasing importance in adjusting to climate change – energy supplies, waste, water, education, health and social services. This is because the transition demands massive investments, at national and EU levels, in renewable energy, in energy efficiency in public workplaces and buildings, in infrastructure and in preventing the consequences of natural catastrophes. Everything should in principle be environmentally friendly, from production to transport and tourism.

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