The importance of the European elections for climate action

The results of this week’s European elections could define the EU’s approach to the climate crisis for years to come.

Between 23-26 May, more than 400 million voters will go to the polls to elect their representatives for the European Parliament. This puts the European elections second only to the Indian election as the largest democratic exercise on Earth.

The results are likely to have a major effect on shaping the European political agenda on the climate for years to come. It’s easy to see why. Scientists say we have five years to change course on climate change. That’s exactly the term for the next European Parliament.

It will be interesting to see the results of voting not only across Europe but in the different Member States. In a recent IPSOS MORI poll of 2,000 EU voters across 11 European countries, large majorities of potential voters said they would like parties to prioritise environmental issues. 82% said they would vote for a party that prioritised protecting the environment, animals and nature; 77% would vote for politicians who are keen to tackle global warming.

These are significant figures because in its role as a co-legislator, the European Parliament has traditionally been more ambitious than the European Commission on green legislation.

Climate legislation on agenda

Whichever way voters end up voting, MEPs in the new Parliament are facing a large amount of climate legislation on the agenda, including its overall long-term strategy of getting to net zero emissions by 2050. There’s also the far from small matter of choosing a new Commission President, where the candidates preferred by the largest groupings of parties are likely to be frontrunners for the position.

To move Europe forward with its climate policies, it’s therefore vital that European citizens use their votes in the polling booths this weekend wisely.

The message from WindEurope

DecarbEurope partner WindEurope puts it simply: “If you want a Europe powered by renewables, go vote!”

WHY VOTE? “Because the European Parliament makes laws that support the growth of renewables in Europe.”

WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU DON’T VOTE? “Every vote counts. The lower the turnout, the less likely we will get a pro-renewables Parliament. It doesn’t have to be this way. You, your friends, your family and your colleagues can all make a difference.”

They’ve even made a short, entertaining but powerful video to convey their message:

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