The poverty levels throughout the European Union increase significantly. Even prior to the pandemic, 109 million people in Europe were at risk of poverty and social exclusion. Covid-19 only aggravated the situation. On top of that, climate change becomes ever more urgent, and a green transition has been rightfully determined as top priority for European governments. However, it is important to note that a green transition should also be a social transition.
The effects of climate change will hit the most vulnerable first, yet the measures taken to turn the tide weigh heaviest on their shoulders as well. Therefore, governments should consider at all times the impact of the Green Deal on people at risk of poverty and social exclusion, to make sure they do not have to pay for the transition.
RWLP and BAPN, the Walloon and Belgian member networks of EAPN, emphasized this tension by initiating an interview at RTBF (in French) with Mathias Maucher (EAPN) in the framework of La Semaine de l’Europe. In addition, a Dutch article by Cindy Franssen (CD&V, political party Belgium) was published this week.
The interview highlights some of the biggest challenges and key recommendations for a green, social transition, with a specific focus on social housing and sustainable renovation, energy poverty, sustainable employment and the urgent need for an adequate minimum income and minimum wage. If governments do not take measures to ensure these requirements, environmental justice will come at the expense of the most vulnerable in society.