Today, eleven months after the European Parliament declared a climate emergency, the very same parliament voted to go ahead with an agricultural policy that — in summary — fuels ecological destruction with almost 400 billion euros. Hundreds of thousands of tweets using #VoteThisCAPdown asking the MEPs to intervene didn’t convince enough MEPs to flip this.
This was made possible thanks to countless lobbyists, but also news editors and media platforms who failed to do their job — to inform citizens about crucial events that concern them. If this does not happen, the elected officials will not be held accountable for their actions and can get away with basically anything. This is not how a democracy is supposed to work.
Are we disappointed? No. Because that would mean we were expecting a miracle. Yet this day has once again shown the size of the gap that lies between current policies and where we would need to be, in order to be in line with the Paris Agreement. And this day has shown how much it is up to the people — the people everywhere, across Europe and across the globe taking matters into their own hands. Because today, theses issues are certainly not being taken care of in the way they need to be.
Hence the news today is not the outcome of this election. If anything, the majority of the members of the European Parliament have today proved that they do not understand what a climate- or ecological emergency means. Or perhaps this majority has chosen not to understand this, chosen not to face the climate emergency. Or the catastrophic loss of biodiversity. This is unfortunately nothing new, this has been going on for decades. Empty words, empty declarations, empty “deals”, empty promises followed by action leading into a completely different direction.
No, the story to tell today is a different one. This is the story of the people who have not given up. The fact this vote emerged to become a public issue, that it was discussed all over the internet, in offices and living rooms, was made possible by thousands of people who care. People who care about the future that is created by such decisions. And more than that. These people, activists, concerned citizens, scientists, professionals, mums, dads, grandparents, children. They all cared about their own role in this. They took responsibility, spoke out, got organized in times when those in power failed to live up to their promises. And this happened despite the fact that the media chose to completely ignore the story about the disastrous environmental impacts of the proposed CAP “reform”. The hope once again lies with the people.
And what’s next? Where do we go from here?
If our leaders were to adopt this version of CAP, we would have no chance of achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement. We demand for our politicians to keep their promises and stop contradicting their supposed ambition with these destructive policies that have no place in our future.
But — the European Commission can still propose an alternative to this deal. The fight is not over yet.
Because the fight is only over when the people say it’s over.
It is the people who have the power. In fact, every great change throughout history has come from the people. And the people will continue to demand that our leaders do not surrender on the environment, our living conditions, our food system or our future.
We ask the people to stay with us and keep pushing. We ask the ones in power to stop pretending they care — or to get going in case they mean it. And we ask the media to wake up, to rise up to their responsibility. This result happened due to that media decided to stay silent, decided not to question proposals, not to challenge leaders, not to intervene, not to inform the public. And if the media continues down this dangerous road, they will lose their credibility among countless young people. And this is something we can not allow to happen as there is no future for democracy without a strong, independent free press.
One hundred and fourteen weeks have passed since our first school strike. And it’s still up to us.
by Luisa Neubauer, Greta Thunberg, Adélaïde Charlier, Camille Etienne and Anuna de Wever van der Heyden