February 27, 2021

Young people engage with decision-makers in the climate and energy sector – The “Youth demands on climate and energy” panel discussion

In February, 78 young participants from all over Europe – from Sofia to Lisbon, from Tallin to Antwerp – made their opinions heard in a vital policy areaThe panel discussion with 3 key decision-makers from the business and political sphere marked an important opportunity for young people to contribute with their voices to environmental and energy topics. 

The discussion focused on the contents of the “Policy Recommendations on Climate & Energy” paper, which constitutes a compilation of the proposals of the 7 Young Europe Ambassadors within this policy area. The Young Europe Ambassadors are a diverse group of 27 young people who were invited to discuss their visions for Europe with the EU Member States’ Ministers of European Affairs. The Ambassadors’ recommendations were complemented by proposals written by young people in the frame of EYP’s “Power Shifts — Reflecting Europe’s energy” project.

The paper defends a vision of the European Union where sustainability is at the core of all policies, natural resource limitations are respected and aims for a carbon-neutral Europe, where decision-makers cooperate with relevant stakeholders to ensure a dignified and fair future for the generations to come. In the words of the Young European Ambassadors, “[…] we believe we are the last generation to be able to effectively tackle climate change, and not our children or grandchildren”. 

The event benefited from the presence and insightful contributions of three decision-makers in the energy and climate sector: 

  • Dr. Johannes Teyssen, CEO, E.ON SE 
  • Dr. Cathy Maguire, European Environment Agency (EEA), Environmental Sustainability Assessments and Learning Expert 
  • Michael Bloss, Member of the European Parliament, member of the ITRE (Industry, Research and Energy) and ENVI (Environment, Public Health and Food Safety) Committees 

The event gathered participants aged from 16 to 31 and 35 cities around the world. Moreover, a total of 19 climate networks were represented in the panel discussion. The presence and engagement of these organisations (European Youth Energy Network, CliMates Austria, SDG7 youth constituency at UN MGCY, European Young Engineers, EIT InnoEnergy, YES-Europe, Students’ Climate Action Network Ireland, Young European Movement UK, and European Climate Pact Ambassadors) allowed for the building of vital bridges between policy decision-makers and young civil society stakeholders in this event. 

The event underlined the need for young individuals to be involved in holistic action to combat climate change and ensure a just and successful transition to a green energy and environmental policy paradigm. The importance of the occasion was stressed by the MEP Michael Bloss, who told the participants: “You need to be leaders now. The climate crisis is here.”  

Dr. Cathy Maguire, lead author of the EEA’s State and outlook of Europe’s environment in 2020 (SOER 2020) reportcalled for greater integration of environmental policy and concerns in other areas of political initiative – “We need to address challenges in a broader sustainability context. National, European and global scales are intertwined” – symbolising the unique nature of a problem that is worldwide in scale, and yet also deeply impactful to each and every individual. 

The involvement of a variety of partners, from the political and business spheres to academia and everyday citizensfurther encapsulated the importance of inclusive and all-encompassing action in this area. This point was specifically addressed by Dr. Teyssen, who highlighted that even energy-focused businesses would “only be able to provide a successful transition in energy [by involving] civil society”. 

Want to know more? You can find the Young European Ambassadors’ views on Europe’s future here.