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Event in Burgas, Bulgaria on Climate and the Environment

2nd Citizens' Panel in Lisbon

Parliament for the Future of Europe

Burgas, Bulgaria – 16 June 2023

The Parliament for the Future of Europe is our take on the Conference for the Future of Europe. Our aim is to bring together a diverse group of people from marginalized and underrepresented groups to the center of the debate. With our six partners we will bring participants from across Europe to discuss and scrutinize the proposals of the historic Conference on the Future of Europe and reshape them to be more inclusive and meet the needs of vulnerable communities. Burgas, Bulgaria and our Bulgarian partners, the Bulgarian Association for the Promotion of Citizens Initiative (BAPCI), will host the event on Climate and the Environment on Friday, 16 June. The Conference for the Future of Europe proposals on climate and the environment starting on page 43 will serve as the basis of the discussion.

Photos of the event can be found here

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or CERV. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

The new proposals are as follows: 

Proposal 1: agriculture, food production, biodiversity and ecosystems, pollution

objectives: Safe, sustainable, just, climate responsible, and affordable production of food, respecting sustainability principles, gender equality, human rights, the environment, safeguarding biodiversity and ecosystems while ensuring food security:

  1. Bring the concept of the green and blue economy to the fore by promoting effective environmentally and climate-friendly agriculture and fishery in the EU and worldwide, including organic and regenerative farming as well as other forms of innovative and sustainable farming, such as vertical farming, that allows producing more food with less input whilst reducing emissions and environmental impact but still guaranteeing productivity and food security.
  2. Redirect subsidies and strengthen incentives towards organic farming and sustainable agriculture, which comply with clear environmental standards and help achieve global climate goals. Raise awareness of food waste to promote consumption of 'imperfect produce" and prevent overwrapping. 
  3. Promote the adoption of circular economy principles in agriculture by advocating for sustainability measures that effectively reduce waste and optimize the utilization of resources. Ensure accountability of every food producer in producing and distributing food. Align the tax policy for food donations with the standards set by the European Union (EU).
  4. Significantly reduce the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers,  
    while still ensuring food security and support for research to develop more sustainable and natural-based alternatives. 
  5. Introduce a certification of carbon removals based on robust, solid, and transparent carbon accounting
  6. "More funding for research and innovations, allocated in a just and equitable manner, including technological solutions for sustainable production, plant resistance, and precision farming, and more communication, advisory systems, and training for and from farmers"
  7. Eliminate social dumping and enhance a just and green transition to better jobs, with high-quality safety, health, and working conditions, in the agriculture sector. Enforce the implementation of living wages for agricultural workers and establish regulations that link wages to agricultural prices, thereby ensuring fairness. Motivate young people, particularly young women, to pursue a career in the agricultural sector.
  8. Decrease plastic usage in agricultural films by providing subsidies for the adoption of natural materials and offering incentives to reduce water consumption in agriculture. Encourage local and seasonal food consumption as a means to reduce overall water usage.

Reasoned breeding and meat production with a focus on animal welfare and sustainability, using measures such as clear labeling, high standards, and common norms for animal farming and transport (without holding back small farms), strengthening the link between breeding and feeding. 

Proposal 2 : agriculture, food production, biodiversity and ecosystems, pollution

Objectives: Protect and restore biodiversity, the landscape and oceans, and eliminate pollution

  1. Protect and restore biodiversity, the landscape and oceans, and eliminate pollution.
  2. Integrate the polluter pays principle, with dynamic taxation based on pollution amount, and incentivise low pollution companies. And ensure that those tax funds go back into eco-friendly development
  3. "Enhance the role of municipalities in urban planning and construction of new buildings supporting blue- green infrastructure, avoid and stop further sealing of land and enforce obligatory green spaces of new constructions, in order to promote biodiversity and urban forest. Provide specific guidelines for municipalities, government support for all buildings - old or new."
  4. Protect insects, particularly indigenous and pollinating species. Take measures against invasive species and step up enforcement of existing regulations. Regulate better the use of pesticides and other harmful chemicals. Raise public awareness about them.
  5. Combat deforestation, support reforestation and afforestation initiatives, including those aimed at restoring forest lost due to fire. Enforce responsible forest management and better use of wood as a replacement for other materials. improving and enhancing the cooperation between countries on those issues worldwide. Set binding national targets across the EU Member States for reforestation of native trees and local flora, taking into account different national situations and specificities.
  6. Enforce and extend the ban on single use plastics. Create affordable sustainable alternatives if possible.
  7. Protect water sources and combat river and ocean pollution, including through researching and fighting microplastic pollution and fertilizers, and promoting of environmentally friendly shipping by using best available technologies and establishing EU research and funding for alternative maritime fuels and technologies. Reduction of offshore and deep-sea mining activities and factory waste pollution. Invest in eco-friendly and affordable sun protection products.
  8. Reduce light pollution, introduce smart lighting systems in certain areas to reduce light pollution.
  9. Provide funding to non-profit civil society climate organizations and actively engage them in the decision-making processes. Enhance funding and improve the monitoring of noise levels by relevant organizations responsible for managing noise pollution, while also implementing stricter regulations on fireworks usage.
  10. Enforce a ban on fossil fuels while directing investments towards alternative energy resources and promoting the recycling of existing energy sources.
  11. Make it imperative for member states to take decisive action in combating the dissemination of misinformation and disinformation concerning climate change.
  12. To tackle food waste, incentivize businesses to minimize waste, prioritize donating or reselling edible food, and encourage the establishment of food banks.
  13. Promote biodiversity in agriculture by adopting methods such as agroforestry, crop rotation, organic fertilizers, reduced pesticide use, permaculture cultivation, and investing in wildlife corridors.

Proposal 3 : Climate change, energy, transport

Objectives: Enhance European energy security, and achieve the EU’s energy independence while ensuring a just transition, and providing Europeans with sufficient, affordable and sustainable energy such as via secure nuclear power. Tackle climate change, with the EU playing a role of global leader in sustainable energy policy, and respecting the global climate goals: 

  1. Accomplish and whenever possible speed up the green transition, in particular through more investments in renewable energy, in order to reduce external energy dependency, recognizing also the role of local and regional authorities in the green transition.
  2. Apply within energy policies the geopolitical and security implications, including human rights, ecological aspect and good governance and rule of law, of all third country energy suppliers.
  3. Reduce dependencies from coal, oil and gas imports and production through energy efficiency projects, support of affordable or free where possible, and especially reliable, public transport, high-speed rail and freight network, expansion of clean and renewable energy provision.
  4. Improve quality and interconnectivity, including between urban and rural neighbourhoods, ensure maintenance, and transform the electrical infrastructure and electrical grids in order to enhance safety and to enable the transition to renewable energy sources. 
  5. Taking into account transparent lobbying, invest in technologies to produce renewable energy, such as efficient production and use of green hydrogen, when and where available, especially in industries which are major consumers of energy.
  6. Taking into account transparent lobbying, invest in technologies to produce renewable energy, such as efficient production and use of green hydrogen, when and where available, especially in industries which are major consumers of energy.
  7. Make CO2 sinkers mandatory for fossil fuels power plants with a view to phase them out, and provide financial aid to Member States that do not have financial resources to implement the CO2 sinkers. Provide financial aid to such Member States to the overall smooth and speedy transition from fossil fuels to sustainable industries. Provide protection for natural CO2 sinkers, e.g. soil, oceans, forests, including by the "polluter pays" method. 
  8. Ensure a just transition, protecting workers and jobs, through adequate funding for the transition and further research, through reform of the tax system with fairer taxation and anti-tax fraud measures, and through ensuring inclusive governance approach in policy making at all levels (e.g. ambitious measures to reskill/upskills, strong social protection, keeping public service in public hands while encouraging fair and transparent cooperation and decision-making, safeguarding occupational health
    and safety rules).
  9. Introduce an investment package for sustainable technologies and innovations, which should be financed through climate-related import tariffs and climate-related carbon adjustment levies.
  10. After a transition period, fossil fuels should no longer be subsidized as an end goal and with the view to phase them out, and in the meantime, there should be financial incentives and support for individuals and businesses to transition to more renewable energy resources.
  11. Increase EU’s leadership and taking a stronger role, responsibility, and accountability in promoting ambitious climate action, a just transition, and support to address the loss and damages, in the international framework with the United Nations at the centre. Democratize top climate decisions to be as participatory and as close to people as possible.
  12. Promote and invest in energy efficient measures, especially in family households, but also public buildings, industries, and across infrastructure. 

Proposal 4 : climate change, energy, transport

Objective: Provide high quality, modern, green, and safe infrastructure, ensuring connectivity, including of rural and island regions, in particular through affordable public transport:

  1. Support Public Transport: Development of a unified European public transportation network, especially in rural and island regions, that is efficient, reliable, and affordable. This entails a particular focus on less populated areas. Extra incentives should be provided for public transportation usage.

    To bolster this initiative, the transport network should be local government-owned and potentially free to users, allowing easier access and promoting regular use. Moreover, promoting and integrating group chats or applications for car sharing could offer viable options for travel outside city limits, ensuring comprehensive coverage across Europe.

    It is of utmost importance that the expansion and improvement of this network do not harm local ecosystems or endanger species. All developments should adhere to strict environmental guidelines to protect our natural heritage.

    Additionally, concerted efforts should be made to ensure that transportation is affordable, accessible and safe for all, including women and other vulnerable groups, thus promoting social equality within public transit systems. 

  1. Invest in High-Speed and Night Trains: Investments should be made in high-speed and night trains, with an emphasis on the standardization of affordable and eco-friendly railroad technology across Europe. This would provide a credible alternative to discourage short-distance flights.

    To further incentivize this, there should be considerations for restrictions on short local flights which not only reduces the environmental impact, but also boosts the usage and practicality of these high-speed rail networks.

  1. Promote the Use of Electric Vehicles: Encourage the purchase and use (including shared use) of electric vehicles with good battery life standards. Investments should be made in necessary recharging infrastructure and in the development of other non-polluting technologies for vehicles whose electrification is challenging.

    However, while continuing to focus on electric vehicles, we must also shift our attention to vehicles powered by methane and other greener alternatives. This is crucial as battery manufacturing is not entirely green and eco-friendly.

    Therefore, an emphasis should be placed on the recycling of batteries to mitigate some of the environmental concerns. This also brings up infrastructural concerns that need to be addressed, such as setting up recycling facilities and promoting their use, in parallel with developing cleaner technologies.

  1. Develop High-Speed Internet: Improve internet and mobile network connectivity in rural and island regions. The goal is to ensure accessibility with less bureaucracy, allowing for smoother rollout and implementation.

    There is also an opportunity for satellite internet development, particularly targeting these rural and island regions. Such initiatives could provide reliable internet access in remote areas, ultimately contributing to a more interconnected Europe.

  1. Improve existing transportation infrastructure from an ecological point of view
  1. Implement Urban Development Programs: Urban development programs should aim to create "greener" cities with lower emissions. This should include dedicated car-free zones in cities, without harming commercial areas.

    In line with this vision, a focus should be placed on promoting the concept of a '15-minute city' - a city structure where citizens can meet their daily needs within a 15-minute walk or cycling from their homes. This approach encourages multiple centres within a city, significantly reducing the reliance on private vehicles and fostering a more sustainable urban lifestyle.

  1. Improve Infrastructure for Cycling: Improve cycling infrastructure and provide enhanced legal protection and rights for cyclists and pedestrians, including in cases of accidents with motorized vehicles. This should guarantee road safety and provide training on road traffic rules.

    Cities are to be made more walking friendly, allowing for a healthier and more sustainable form of transport. Moreover, ensured accessibility measures should be in place to cater to all residents, including those with mobility issues.

  1. Regulate Cryptocurrency Mining: Cryptocurrency mining, which uses an enormous amount of electricity, should be regulated. Similar regulations should be extended to the broader IT industry. IT companies should be held accountable for their energy usage and encouraged to strive for lower emissions. This will create a more sustainable technological landscape and contribute to overall reduction of Europe's carbon footprint.

Proposal 5 : Sustainable consumption, packaging and production

Objectives: Enhance the use and management of materials within the EU in order to become more circular, more autonomous and less dependent on carbon emitting production and environmentally harmful materials, promoting recyclability and sustainability. Build a circular economy by promoting sustainable EU products and production. Ensure all products placed on the EU market comply with common EU environmental standards:

  1. Stricter and harmonised production standards within the EU and a transparent labelling system for all products sold on the EU market regarding their sustainability/ environmental footprint, as well as longevity, using a QR-code and eco-score, or the Digital Product Passport. Authorize a designated European agency to certify producers, ensuring that small-scale producers are not unfairly disadvantaged with the burden of excessive bureaucracy.
  1. Review global supply chains with a view to finding ways to localise and regionalise them as much as possible, including in agricultural production, in order to reduce dependency of the EU and shorten the chains. Prioritise capital investment in cargo rail powered by renewable energy.
  1. Promote waste reduction by implementing harmonized preventive measures across the EU, including targets for recycling and reuse, as well as establishing simplified and high-quality standards for waste sorting systems. Ban the export of waste from the EU to third countries.
  1. Phase-out non-sustainable form of packaging, regulate environmentally-safe packaging, and avoid wasting of material in packaging, through financial incentives and penalties, and investing in research into alternatives.
  1. Introduce EU-wide packaging deposit return scheme and advanced standards for containers, using negative incentives (i.e. by restricting access to EU market). Simplify return mechanism.
  1. Launch an EU knowledge platform on how to ensure long-term and sustainable use and how to “repair” products, including the available information from consumer associations. Raise awareness about recycling standards. Require every tech product to include a manual detailing repair and recycling instructions.
  1. Introduce measures to tackle early, or pre- mature (including planned) obsolescence, ensure longer warranties, promote a right to repair, and ensure availability and accessibility of compatible spare and generic parts.
  1. Establish a secondary raw materials market, also by considering requirements for percentages of recycled content and encouraging less use of primary materials. Limiting the use of packaging material (bio degradable) with a short life span.
  1. Rapid implementation of an ambitious sustainable textile strategy and setting up a mechanism ensuring consumers can be aware the product meets sustainable criteria. Develop, support and incentivise efficient production methods and technological advancement (that reduces unnecessary waste) and avoid overproduction.
  1. Take EU actions that enable and incentivize consumers to use products longer.
  1. Increase environmental standards, and enforce compliance, related to processing of waste within the EU and to third countries.
  1. Introduce measures to limit advertising of products that are environmentally damaging, introducing a mandatory disclaimer for products that are particularly harmful for the environment.
  1. Stricter manufacturing standards and fair working conditions throughout the production and entire value chain.

Proposal 6 : information, awareness, dialogue and life-style

Objectives: Foster knowledge, awareness, education, and dialogues on environment, climate change, energy use, and sustainability

  1. Make scientifically-oriented platforms more engaging and accessible to the public, ensuring that climate change science communicates in an understandable language and relatable in media, public activities, and other forms of communication.
  1. Support information campaigns on eco- awareness, including a long-term EU campaign for sustainable consumption and lifestyle. Create unified databases. Ensure easy access to information related to climate change issues.
  1. Promote and facilitate dialogue and consultations between all levels of decision making, especially with youth and at the local level.
  1. The development by the EU, with assistance of Member States, of a common European charter targeting environmental issues and fostering environmental awareness among all citizens.
  1. Provide educational courses and teaching materials for all, in order to increase climate and sustainability literacy and to enable lifelong learning on environmental topics. Make sustainability a compulsory subject in educational curricula. The EU should provide ongoing funding and actively promote educational programs to support the field of education.
  1. Include food production and biodiversity protection as part of education, including the advantage of unprocessed over processed food, and promoting school gardens, subsidizing urban gardening projects and vertical farming. Consider making biodiversity a mandatory subject in schools and raise awareness for biodiversity through the use of media campaigns and incentivised ‘competitions’ across the EU.
  1. Strengthen the role and action of the EU in the area of environment and education, by extending the EU’s competence in the area of education in the area of climate change and environment and extending the use of qualified majority decision-making on topics identified as being of ‘European interest’, such as environment.
  2. Promote a plant-based diet for climate protection and environmental preservation through informed choices, awareness campaigns, positive marketing, addressing overconsumption, promoting local and sustainable food, and considering taxation as a tool to reshape dietary habits. Support farmers and workers in adapting to climate change, overcome institutional challenges through information campaigns, promote food cooperatives.


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