People Power vs. the Climate Crisis



  • Sergey Lagodinsky, Member of the European Parliament, die Grünen
  • Amandine Roggeman, Citizen Convention for the Climate in France
  • Ellen Ueberschär, Co-President, Heinrich Böll Stiftung
  • Ada Ámon, Head of Unit of Climate and Environment at Budapest City Hall

Moderator: Benedek Jávor, Representation of Budapest in Brussels.

Virginijus Sinkevicius, European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, contributed to the panel with a pre-recorded video message. The discussion addressed the issue of climate transition and how an active citizenry can be involved on a local, national, and European level.

Main takeaways

  • The democratic, economic, health and climate crises are happening at the same time. These crises can offer the momentum for real change and structural
  • Climate policy is neither a left nor a right-wing issue but an issue for all of us. We are departing from the usual dichotomy of left and right.
  • Even if every stakeholder (government, company, citizen) wants to act on climate change, they are reluctant to take the first
  • The EU has reacted, and it is important to acknowledge that so far this is the greenest But we will be missing the Paris Climate Goals if we are not more ambitious. Although the EU has initiatives and policies to involve every sector of society and economy in the fight against the environmental and social crises, implementation is key because national governments can still moderate the Commission’s ambitions.
  • Nearly 70% of Europeans live in cities, so they have an essential role in tackling the climate Most of the building and energy demands materialize in the cities. Adaptation challenges are also affecting them, while all the adaptation costs are placed on cities without proper funding. Cities need to convince people about the need for these measures because governments are usually slow and reluctant to act.
  • City’s alliances are a great way to share experiences and good practices, but they are limited if the governments are not helpful in climate action. Budapest alone would need 8 billion euros to reach its own climate goals, but it is unlikely to receive the funds under the current
  • Hungarian citizens want to see climate action on every Informed citizens can accept and live with difficult and restrictive decisions and hold the leaders accountable if they are not willing to implement the needed policies. In contrast, the French yellow- jacket protest showed what happens when a government wants to move fast on climate action without involving the citizens and explaining the needed actions properly.

Policy recommendations

  • Freedom of the press and science is the key to dealing with thes crises.
  • Municipalities need direct access to EU funds.
  • Cities need to convince people about the need for these measures, because governments are usually slow and reluctant to act.
  • Citizens and civil societies need to be involved in the European Green Deal.
  • We need a combination of direct and representative democracy to balance the elitist and populistic tendencies.
  • Tackling energy poverty is essential to ensure the success of the Energy Efficiency Policies need to balance out the costs for vulnerable societal groups.

(The panel was organized in partnership with the Heinrich Böll Foundation)