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Do you have the power to stop climate change?



You can make a difference. You have a part to play. Unless we address the climate crisis together, with everyone in society doing their bit, then extreme weather events of the sort we’ve seen in 2021 – including devastating floods, droughts, and heatwaves – will grow more frequent and intense.

Yes, that means big governments and multinationals have a lot to do. But ordinary people also have collective power: as voters, as campaigners, as active citizens, and as responsible consumers (voting with wallets), your decisions can put pressure on states and companies and can make a difference.

What is the EU doing? The European Commission has just adopted its ‘Fit for 55’ package, aiming to reduce the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by the year 2030, relative to 1990 levels. This will be done through a combination of making existing commitments more ambitious and by introducing new measures, such as a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), a commitment to plant 3 billion trees, a tax on aviation fuel, and completely ending the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035.

These are all positive steps, yet they won’t be enough without the active support of citizens. In 2021, Debating Europe has been holding focus groups, citizens’ panels, and workshops with citizens from across the EU, and many have told us they feel powerless or guilty in the face of climate change.

For example, Benedikt from Germany told us:

? “It’s great if people are doing a lot of little things [to live more sustainably], but if we then have still shipping industries polluting oceans and so on there’s not really a point to it, and a lot of people feel powerless compared to big corporations.”

While Mariana from Slovenia said:

? “Sometimes I’m like: you know what, there are some huge companies that do so much worse. I’m going to unclog these drain with this product that I don’t know if it’s bad for the fish or whatever, but I need to unclog my drain. But then I have this guilt… [Or] I love long showers but I don’t take them anymore. Then I feel today I’m so tired I deserve a longer shower, but there is this feeling, sometimes, that I’m more part of the problem than part of the solution.”

In response, we’re launching a series of debates looking at how individuals can contribute to help stop climate change. This debate series will run as part of the European Climate Pact, an EU-wide initiative inviting people, communities and organisations to participate in climate action and build a greener Europe. We will invite scientists, campaigners, activists, European Climate Pact Ambassadors, mayors, politicians and others to take part in our debates and discuss how we can all make a difference.

Should Benedikt feel powerless? Should Mariana feel guilty? To tackle these feelings head-on, we spoke to two young European Climate Pact Ambassadors, both active in campaigning to protect the climate: Monika Skadborg from Denmark and Beniamin Strzelecki from Poland. Watch the video on the top to find out what they had to say to Benedikt and Mariana!

Do you want to get involved? Sign up to the European Climate Pact and pledge to take practical steps to help reduce carbon pollution on our planet.

What do YOU think? What would you say to people who feel powerless compared to big corporations? How can we empower citizens in the fight against climate change? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

Photo by Sandro Gonzalez on Unsplash

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