Defence of Realistic Sustainability at VIVA24

ECR Party Europa Viva Conference - May 20, 2024

During VOX and ECR popular VIVA24 rally, several policy panels were celebrated. One of them was the ‘Sustainability and green energy: challenges and opportunities’ panel. Several prominent European conservative political figures participated in this panel to share their perspectives. The talk was moderated by Simona Petrucci, Italian MEP for Fratelli d’Italia (Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s party). The speakers were Pedro Narro, Spanish candidate to the European Parliament for VOX; Giedrius Surplys, MP in the Lithuanian Parliament for the LRS Party; Neno Dimov, former Bulgarian Minister of Water and the Environment; Mireia Borrás, a former Spanish MP in the Congress of Deputies for VOX and currently a candidate for the upcoming European Parlimanent elections; and last but not least,  the renowned Rob Roos, prominent ECR MEP from the Netherlands.

The panel debated about sustainability and energy policy, a very important issue but one in which, up to now, politicians have been “imposing sustainability policies too rich in contraditcions”, according to the moderator Petrucci. Instead of this approach, Petrucci highlighted that ECR defends a “realistic sustainability”, one which places at its core “the envitonment, human beings and the economy, because there is no environmental sustainabilyy without economic sustainability”.

The first speaker, Rob Roos, strongly criticised the European Green Deal and “climate communism”, arguing that the EU “makes decisions based on fear”, while “in the real world, in our towns there are more and more people finding it hard to make ends meet due to inflation and high energy prices”. Furthermore, he highlighted that “European companies are losing competitiveness, and many are closing down or moving outside the EU”. In this regard, he criticised the EU’s ideological dogmatism which claims that “we are all going to die if we don’t put our prosperity to the service of climate”. According to Ross, the idea of “net zero emissions” is a “dangerous experiment with our economy and democracy”, and that despite this danger, the European Commission is willing to “put our prosperity at the service of climate and to make it disappear”.

In a nutshell, Ross starkly stated that “the EU planet is going to crash, and those who designed these policies are going to have to come and face what they have destroyed. I hope that it isn’t too late by then to save our prosperity and way of life”. To conclude, Roos formulated a series of policy proposals as alternatives to the EU’s “climate communism”. Firstly, to eliminate the Green Deal, which “is the problem” and will become “less popular” as Europe advances in its newfound policy imperative of pursuing reindustrialization. Secondly, Roos highlighted that we must be “self-sufficient in the provision of energy so that it is affordable and secure”. In this regard, he highlighted that we must invest in nuclear energy, and that we cannot discriminate against nuclear energy in favour of renewables.

In second place, Giedrius Surplys highlighted that “the European Union only emits 8% of global emissions, whereas the greatest polluters are China and the USA”. In this regard, he argued that “we must be less ideological”, when referring to the Green New Deal. One of the main reasons is the loss of European economic competitiveness. As Surplys stated, “the USA and China are incentivising European companies to invest in their countries”, pumping “billions of dollars to remove industries from Europe and take them to the USA and China”. To sum up, Surplys argued that “we are no longer the leaders” on renewable energy and green policy, given that “it is China that is producing all the solar panels and wind turbines that we use in the EU”. Therefore, he argued that in the context of the upcoming European elections, “we must be rational, protect our national security interests, eliminate taxes and red tape, and provide incentives”. He also highlighted the importance of strategic autonomy, arguing that “we must finance our own industries within the EU, and incentivise European and third country companies”.

Thirdly, Mireia Borrás argued that “emission restrictions in the context of the Green New Deal has had devastating effect on industry in Europe, including the agricultural sector and the rest of industry”. Borrás highlighted that emissions reduction policies are being implemented “in a very aggressive and accelerated manner, making the targets unattainable for industry”. This, in turn, is leading to the closure of many industrial business and to their “offshoring to third countries with higher emmissions, such as China”. Borrás branded the EU’s green policies as “absurd and totalitarian”. The right approach to climate change, as Borrás argued, is to invest in “new clean, innovative and disruptive technologies that enable us to be more competitive”, but “always prioritising European competitiveness over arbitrary and counter-productive climate targets”. She also highlighted the importance of “energy sovereignty”, and criticised the “imposition of renewable technologies” due to the challenges that renewable energies pose in light of their “intermittence” and the lack of “large scale storage capacity”, as well as the “dependency on third countries” that these technologies create in terms of critical raw materials. Borrás therefore defended the need to invest in nuclear energy and to stop “demonising” this source of energy.

In fourth place, Pedro Narro argued that “the decarbonisation targets are not realistic targets for three reasons”: firstly, they are “political, not scientific targets, that gradually expand due to pressure from green, socialist and centre-right parties”. Secondly, he argued that policies like the 3 recently approved energy-related Directives approved by the EU haven’t had an appropriate impact assessment and “no one has told us what practical implications” they will have. In third place, he also criticised the lack of legal certainty due to the “regulatory tsunami” in Europe. According to Narro, the EU has a dense corpus of “overlapping and contradicting regulations” that hamper business and investment in energy. In his second intervention, Narro also referred to the “growing and concerning dependence” of the EU on third countries in diverse areas and sectors, including renewable energy, raw materials and medicines”, and warned that the green transition will generate a new dependence on third countries also for agrifood products.

Finally, Neno Dimov highlighted the nuances in CO2 emissions data, stating that “globally, at an atmospheric level, CO2 emissions have only increased by 0.01% in the last 100 years”, which “nobody believes is dangerous”. About anthropogenic climate change, Dimov argued that apocalyptic “prophecies” have “all failed”, but despite, this, the EU has imposed the Green Deal. According to Dimov, the Green Deal “is a problem, but especially it is a tool to help the new Marxist ideology fight against democracy and capitalism”. In this regard, he stated that we must “fight” against the Green Deal and to “maintain our middle class”, because “there is no democracy without the middle class, there is no democracy without capitalism, and there is no quality of life without capitalism”. In terms of energy, Dimov stated that “we must stop subsidising some types of energy and punish others. We must let them compete to see which one is better, cheaper and more sustainable”. Furthermore, we must be self-sufficient and “independent” in terms of energy, relying on our own resources and preventing dependence on geopolitical adversaries.

This panel and sustainability are a very important issue, which will form a backdrop to the June EU elections along with other issues like food sovereignty, immigration, national sovereignty and European culture. The consolidation of conservative ideas is evident from the rise of ECR in the polls and the growing rightward shift of the EPP out of fear of being engulfed by ECR. We will have to wait until the 10th of June, but ECR and conservatives are en route for a strong showing in the upcoming European Parliament elections.