Europe’s biggest environmental groups have launched campaigning platforms for elections in May, as the Green Party presence in the next parliament looks set to thin dramatically.
Pollwatch numbers suggest that the Greens are on track to return just 38 MEPs, down from 48 in the current parliament, as voter concerns turn to bread and butter issues.
The veteran Green MEP Claude Turmes told EurActiv that the group’s internal polling predicted that they would emerge from the campaign with “somewhere between 35 and 45” lawmakers. But he accepted that the party was catching a tailwind from the economic crisis.
“There have been less front pages about planetary urgencies and more on unemployment, which strengthens the parties with electorates that compete with the Greens – the far left and Social Democrats,” he told EurActiv.
A campaigning switch to air pollution issues may be in the offing. But some environmental NGOs appear to be orientating themselves around the need to find allies to work with in the new parliament.
The WWF conservation group says that some 80 candidates from all parties have signed their pledge which requires them to support one of several broadly-worded options priorities – such as tackling climate change, or encouraging more sustainable and healthy consumption. The group sees this as a bridge to dialogue with a new intake of lawmakers.
“The EU has the power to lead us into a new era - one where we produce and consume within the means of one planet,” said Tony Long, Director of WWF European Policy Office in Brussels. “And it is those MEPs who are successful in the elections who will have the power to vote on key issues that can make this transformation a reality”.
A website called Politics for People linked to the Alter-EU group is also rallying supporters to alert MEPs to what they call "the excessive lobbying influence of banks and big businesses in the EU".
Climate Action Network has taken a different tack, producing a comprehensive and well-researched series of 28 score cards.
“Climate actions speak louder than words and this analysis enables people to see exactly what national political parties and their MEPs have supported during their term in the European Parliament,” commented Wendell Trio, the director of CAN Europe.
‘Bad’ Polish parliamentarians
There appear to be few surprises though. While all of Denmark’s MEP’s - bar one - receive ‘very good’ or ‘good’ rankings, the overwhelming majority of Polish parliamentarians have ‘bad’ or ‘very bad’ records.
Only one Polish MEP is given a ‘very good’ score, the budget commissioner Janusz Lewandowski, who has presumably voted with the European Commission, despite questioning whether global warming is caused by burning coal, or whether it even exists.
Birdlife International takes a more traditional stance, issuing a manifesto with four reform priorities for the next budgetary period: protect and restore ecosystems; productive and healthy seas; healthy food and rural environments; preventing climate change.
The umbrella ‘G10’ organisation which represents the biggest environmental NGOs in Europe has also put together a ‘Top 10’ of demands, and it covers mainstays such as three binding 2030 climate targets and opposition to a TTIP free trade deal with the US.
In a sign of campaigns to come though, it also singles out putting the environment at the heart of the post-2015 Global Development Goals that will be thrashed out next year, and guaranteeing ‘the right to information, participation and justice’ for all EU citizens.
- 22-25 May: European elections due to take place across Europe