By Frida Kieninger, David Sánchez and Andy Gheorghiu
In 2017 we worked hard to change things for the better – fighting for sustainable agriculture, public water, better trade agreements, and clean energy solutions. The past year was a tough one seeing U.S. President Trump’s destructive decisions on social, energy and environmental issues and another series of devastating disasters linked to climate change. Nevertheless, now more than ever we are motivated to make 2018 a successful year for our beautiful fragile planet. Can we count on you?
Gas Is a Bridge to Nowhere – Fighting for Truly Clean Energy Solutions
The promoters of gas often present it as a clean and climate-friendly fuel. Yet “natural” gas is and remains a high-carbon fossil fuel.
Last year we launched our fight against climate damaging fossil gas infrastructure in Europe. And the coming months will show whether EU institutions, pressured by the Member States, will walk the talk of the Paris Climate Agreement or give in to industry lobbying and corporate pressure. The first battle will happen at the European Parliament, where the European Commission will try to pass a priority list for gas infrastructure projects. This so-called list of “projects of common interest” is full of costly, unneeded fossil fuel infrastructure, which will curb much-needed investments in clean energy and energy saving measures. Stay tuned – there will definitely be news on the topic in the weeks to come and we will need your voice to be heard here in Brussels!
Key climate decisions are made at international level, and we have therefore joined the Put Climate on Pause coalition of scientists and non-profit organisations to call upon the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to adopt a new greenhouse gas accounting framework that recognizes the true impact of greenhouse gases such as methane. This is only a first necessary administrative step to have a realistic perspective on the state of play with regard to the true climate impact of gas.
We are also delighted to be part of the growing “gas-tivists” movement and we will make a big effort to build even more solidarity links. Europe-wide joint actions will be organised to show that we are many, we are loud and fossil gas is no solution. Numerous activities in different countries are planned, as well as bigger joint projects. Watch out for us on the streets, in lobby meetings, on screens or at events!
Our Fight for Public Water
This year is going to be a really important one in the struggle for public and clean water for all, with two big pieces of legislation are on the table. Do you remember the European Citizen’s Initiative for the right to water that gathered nearly 2 million signatures back in 2013? Those signatures that the European Commission completely ignored? Now, five years later, they will finally present a proposal for a new Drinking Water Directive. Will they manage to introduce the right to water into EU legislation? In the meanwhile, the debate about a new Water Framework Directive is slowly gaining momentum. This directive regulates nearly everything about water, from river basin management to water pollution or water pricing. A huge battle that will keep us and our allies at the European Water Movement busy during the coming years is just about to begin.
But the struggle is not just taking place in the grey corridors of Brussels. We will work with campaigns fighting for water as a commons that are happening all around the continent, from the ongoing Greek struggle to keep water operators under public control to the referendum for public water management in Barcelona.
Along with the rest of the global water justice movement we are also paving the way for the Alternative World Water Forum in Brasilia, a key moment to challenge corporate power and build international solidarity. Looking forward to meeting you there!
Frackarchy in the UK
The UK represents Europe’s “fracking frontier” at the moment. A lot of speculation about potential shale gas resources in the country have pushed the UK government to lead an aggressive pro-shale gas policy, granting many exploration licenses. But strong public opposition is also growing, fuelled by concern over the catastrophic environmental records of this industry in the U.S. A major “wannabe-fracker” in the UK is company Ineos. The company – which has a very bad environmental record throughout Europe – is already importing fracked U.S. hydrocarbons in order to produce plastics in Scotland and Norway (and elsewhere in Europe). This impacts communities on both sides of the Atlantic, polluting air, littering waters with plastic debris, and exacerbating climate change.
But that’s apparently not enough. Ineos also pushes aggressively for fracking in the UK.
Our aim for 2018 is to build a strong Trans-Atlantic alliance (#IneosVthePeople) that fights for a clean environment and a move away from fossil fuels.
The Future of Our Food System
Many debates will shape the future of our food system this year. The European Court of Justice will finally decide how it will classify foods and crops derived from new genetic engineering techniques, known as “new breeding techniques”. We are asking the EU to properly regulate these techniques as GMOs so we can ensure food safety, farmer’s rights and environmental protections. We will be also be watching out for the next Common Agricultural Policy and will keep on challenging the merger between Monsanto and Bayer.
Movements are fighting important battles on the ground and we will be working closely with them. Local communities are resisting the new bubble of factory farms in Spain that pollutes their water and heavily impacts the environment, rural economies and animal welfare. Factory farms are spreading all over Europe and we will work with affected communities to stop them!
The Global Fight against Trump Starts in the U.S.
One year ago, we were all alarmed over the election of Trump to the U.S. presidency, and our worst fears have been affirmed. Food, water, and climate have been under assault by an industry-captured U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a fossil-fuel friendly Congress, and a President who couldn’t care less about ordinary people or our health. But across the U.S., there is momentum to create real change and our colleagues at Food & Water Watch are working hard to get new fracking bans, secure access to clean water for all, ban factory farms, stop pipelines and dirty energy infrastructure, and pass legislation to move to 100% renewable energy by 2035.
We Are Ready for The Challenges Ahead. Are You?
We started the year with a lot of energy and we are making a lot of plans to achieve our goals. But we need you! Make sure you follow us in Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to our newsletter. Join us in these exciting fights!