Youth spell out five demands to tackle climate breakdown

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

Youth striking for climate action do not need standing ovations from politicians. They need action. And they are determined to continue until politicians start acting decisively. [European Greens / Flickr]

Climate change is threatening the future of younger generations, but decision makers are still not taking it seriously. To get them started, youth organisations have joined forces with partners across Europe to come up with a set of five demands for how to solve the crisis.

This op-ed is co-signed by the leaders of several youth organisations (full list at the bottom of this article).

It is very distressing to see the climate crisis wreaking havoc around the world, and to hear day in and day out just how devastating the future warming could be. It is even more painful to see the failure of politicians to treat the crisis with the urgency it deserves. Those in power in Europe are still ignoring us, and taking away our future.

As climate change impacts accelerate, we cannot sit around just watching things get worse. We are putting it all on the line to defend our future and stop the climate madness. We have been striking, and are determined to continue until politicians start acting decisively. We deserve to do more than just survive; we all deserve to thrive.

Politicians feel the heat from the people on the streets. Everyone is talking about climate change now. Many politicians have welcomed our strikes and expressed support. But we do not need their standing ovation. We need action.

The science is clear: we are nowhere near on track to avoid global warming of more than 1.5°C. Despite millions of school children striking, politicians are still not willing or able to break from the status quo. Just last week, at the Future of Europe summit in Sibiu, Romania, European leaders yet again missed a crucial opportunity to commit to increase actions to halt emissions.

This is a key moment for Europe. The upcoming European elections are a good time to prove that you – all current and future European decision makers – understand what is at stake for us and will do your absolute best to put Europe on a path to a healthy, fair and liveable future.

Climate change is a global problem and we need international cooperation to tackle it. We need national action in every single European country, but also Europe as a whole needs to move.

Every candidate in the European elections must take a stand. We need a new generation of politicians who will put climate action as their top priority, over everything else. Candidates must commit to do everything in their power to confront the climate emergency when they are elected. They must also put forward concrete proposals on how they plan to do so.

We keep being asked: what does increased climate action look like? We are not the experts on this. This is why we joined forces with cities, progressive businesses and NGOs across Europe to develop a joint blueprint – a Climate Action Call – for how to profoundly alter our lives to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C.

Together, we urge the new European Parliament, the new European Commission and all European governments to:

  • Commit to accelerate actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and reach net zero emissions as soon as possible.
  • Plan the end of fossil fuels use and provide strong support to energy efficiency, renewable energy and emission cuts outside the energy sector.
  • Safeguard a just and fair transition and ensure that the EU increases its support to developing countries to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
  • Increase efforts to roll out the circular economy and increase resource efficiency.
  • Recognise biodiversity protection and ecosystem restoration as a crucial component of climate action.

On 24 May, during the European elections, together with thousands of young people all across Europe we will go out on the streets to take part in the second global climate strike in order to urge politicians to take action.

We need them to listen and to demonstrate that they take our demands seriously. They must support the Climate Action Call and drive the change we need in the world.



  • Bernd Hirschberger, European co-president of the International Federation of Catholic Parochial Youth Movements – FIMCAP;
  • Sarah Siemers, Advocacy co-director of CliMates;
  • Petra Buru, Fridays for Future Hungary;
  • Toon Lambrecht, Youth for Climate Belgium;
  • Simon Kran Christensen, Green Student Movement Denmark;
  • Robin Holmberg, President, PUSH Sweden;
  • Serena Giacomin, President, Italian Climate Network;
  • Marija Kekenovska, GoGreen Macedonia.

EU elections: The environmental issue

Ahead of the May 2019 European elections, EURACTIV takes an in-depth look into the campaign commitments made by the lead candidates of the main political parties.

Subscribe to our newsletters