Unfortunately the board meeting on Wednesday was interrupted before the coordination assignment but we are Pirates, so just let us really start the work.
I think environment, climate and energy will be very important topics for the next election so we should expand the chapter beyond some common positions and go for actual solutions and a vision for the road to the future.
Environment and climate do not stop at borders, energy also crosses boarders in a common Europe. But so far way too many things are done just on a national level.
I think the chapter should start with a general vision for a Europe with sustainable processes, circular economy, and healthy environment that protects biodiversity. The message should be that we are not aiming a personal sacrifice but at better solutions, so not repeating the typical Greens message following the principle of “you are bad since you travel too much” but instead “we want a better way to travel that is sustainable and this is how we want to do it”.
Then we should go into the topics.
Under environment I would include emissions/pollution, nature preservation/restoration, circular economy.
Climate should address the relevant emissions and how to get rid of them (though a majority of that will likely point to energy), necessary adaptions to cover the amount of climate change that we will not be able to prevent any more, and finally recovering old emissions (drawdown).
Energy should address the sustainable energy sources (likely to cause some discussions…), transition from fossil to renewable, role of hydrogen, future of the European power grid, coupling the energy sectors so electricity becomes the primary energy type (transitioning heating to heat pumps, electrification of transport etc.). Also we should address building a domestic industry for products we need for the transition like photovoltaics, heat pumps, batteries etc.
Climate policy is economic policy. Pirates can point out the role of monopoly power, maybe something like this:
Excessive corporate power is a key barrier to effectively addressing the climate crisis. Unchecked corporate power can make it difficult for new, more sustainable companies to enter the market and compete. A lack of competition can lead to a lack of innovation in clean energy technology, which could slow down progress on climate change. Pirates promote policies that encourage the use of green energy sources, and discourage the use of fossil fuels by breaking up monopolies, and by promoting fair competition in the energy market.
We should go deeper and offer actual answers, like cutting all subsidies for fossil fuels, drying up the financing for fossil fuel projects that often is backed by state banks, stopping trade of green energy certificates that are used to relabel fossil fuel based energy as being green.
One thing I would like to avoid is to talk about having to innovate green energy technology. This is a widespread concept that promotes the impression that the technology is not yet there, which is wrong, we do have everything for a transition to clean energy except maybe for some niches. The problem is not to develop the technology the problem is to actually use it and other parts of the world are faster at that than we are.
My favorite example on subsidies for the fossil fuel industry is the lobby plans that found their way into the Dutch coalition agreement of 2017. The coalition agreement (p38) stipulates that “Carbon Capture and Storage” (CCS) will have a prominent role in climate policy, although the coalition still had to work out the exact details. The money in question comes from the renewable energy production incentive program “stimuleringsregeling voor duurzame energieproductie” (SDE+) subsidies funds, which has so far been used mainly for renewable energy production from solar and wind.
In its lobbing effort on behalf of the fossil fuel industry in Brussels, the Dutch government had a powerful ally: Germany. Rather than openly commit to promoting CCS, which is controversial because it keeps the fossil industry afloat, these plans are being sold as the hydrogen strategy. A report by Corporate Europe Observatory on the hydrogen hype shows how the gas industry makes the rules on hydrogen in Europe, serving its own interests.
A just energy transition requires a broad range of policy tools, one of them is competion policy not only restricting state aid, but also taking back control.
Yes, CCS and hydrogen are red herrings that serve to prolong the business model of the fossil fuel industry.
Hydrogen has useful applications but far fewer than generally hyped. Heating with hydrogen for instance is totally brainless, it is several times less efficient than heating with heat pumps and requires more maintenance. Same for using hydrogen in road or rail transport.
The position here should be: If you want it, pay for it from your own pocket, no subsidies, no guarantees, no state backed credits, and no natural or granted monopolies.
Here is my suggestion for the opening words for the chapter:
Environment and climate do not stop at borders, energy also crosses borders in a common Europe. But so far way too many things are done just on a national level.
We want to ensure that future generations will have a base for a life in freedom and dignity. A healthy environment, biodiversity, sustainable use of resources, and equal access to energy, food, and water are fundamental requirements for this. To ensure a safe future we want a fast transition to a clean, circular economy that reduces its environmental impact to net zero.