Our ship, the Arctic Sunrise is back with a mission. After a year in Russian custody for a peaceful protest against oil drilling in the Arctic, she is now released, repaired and back in the water. Once again she will challenge reckless dirty fossil fuels plans – this time off the Spanish coasts, which is under the threat of off-shore drillings.
Activists onboard the Arctic Sunrise – and all over Europe – are calling for clean energy the very week that EU leaders are about to make crucial decisions about Europe’s energy system for decades to come. They will be talking about how to reduce climate change including through using more renewable energy and improved energy efficiency. I hope the politicians attending will show the same courage and strength.
These activists are – literally – shouting from the rooftops, reminding the world what poll, after poll in Europe tells us: people want less fossil fuel exploration, more use of renewable energies and more effective energy efficiency.
These two strategies are the most clear and direct way to address climate change. Is this the week that politicians will listen?
Our message to EU leaders is very clear: Don’t stand by as we stumble towards catastrophic climate change simply because you don’t have the political backbone to modernize our aging, polluting energy system.
These leaders are posturing and wringing their hands, but they know what they have to do. They have to agree that the only way to stop climate change is to fully embrace the need for more renewable energy and implement better energy efficiency.
The choice is simple and their job at the EU summit this week is to do the ground work so this can happen.
If anyone is not sure what people want, take a train anywhere in Europe and see. Farms using wind turbines. Small roofs half covered in solar panels. In fact 60% of the renewables in Germany are used by households, farms and cooperatives. The future is arriving but we need to accelerate the process.
We want to know that when an office block renovates for a new business, planning permission requires that any changes result in the highest possible standards of insulation.
We want to know that any new city buses and private cars use as little fossil fuels as possible, making them cheaper to run.
We want government buildings to put solar panels on their roofs, not only to cut their energy bills, but to reflect the will of their electorate.
We want to reduce the billions of euros a day Europeans pay to import fossil fuel and steer fraction of it towards establishing a credible, smart renewable sector which will excite investors and create jobs.
All of these things would help curb climate change which, if unimpeded, will cost us much, much more in the future.
Greenpeace’s volunteers and Europeans want to remind political leaders that they may not see these things but we are watching them and we won’t tolerate their tired old arguments.
Don’t pretend drilling for oil is for jobs. Destroying the Canary Island tourism business doesn’t help Spain’s economy.
Don’t pretend it’s too expensive to have renewables. The UK’s proposed new nuclear reactor will be one of the most expensive power generators in the world.
Don’t pretend it’s about logic or that a better energy system is unrealistic. Embracing a clean, modern, sustainable future that protects where we live – the planet – is the most logical, most realistic, in fact the only, choice.
Let’s hope that this week, those politicians have the guts for the glory of us all and show they are worthy of our votes.
Virag Kaufer is a European project coordinator, Energy at Greenpeace Hungary.
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