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Activists Target The Heart Of EU ‘Democracy’

Above photo: Scientist Rebellion.

Right in the middle of the European elections.

Just as the European elections were fully underway, on Friday 7 June activists blockaded the European Commission over the political bloc’s inaction over the climate crisis and fossil fuels – demanding that politicians take action when elected.

European elections: degrowth or bust

At 7.30am in Brussels, around twenty scientists and activists from Scientist Rebellion, Growth Kills, and Extinction Rebellion blocked the entrances to the European Commission, preventing employees from getting to work during the European elections:

Some stuck their hands to the doors, others held up posters and banners with slogans such as ‘Green growth is a myth’, ‘Ban over-consumption’, ‘Measure well-being, not GDP’, and ‘Create citizens’ assemblies’.

Others put up posters on the facade, including the slogan ‘The Future is Degrowth’ in giant letters.

Wolfgang Cramer, Lead Author for the 6th IPCC report and Nobel Peace Prize winner, supports the action from a distance.

Their message is clear: A few days before the elections, virtually no party is proposing degrowth, even though it is the only way out of the social and environmental impasse. Infinite economic growth and so-called ‘green growth’ are myths designed to funnel wealth into the pockets of the rich.

A shift is needed

The scientists demand an EU-wide shift to a flourishing economy that prioritises the well-being of all over the profits of the few. They have 5 specific demands to the EU institutions:

  1. Abandon GDP as an index of prosperity.
  2. Create a sovereign citizens’ assembly to decide our common future, together.
  3. Make corporations pay the true social and environmental costs of their activities.
  4. End over-consumption and the advertising that drives it.
  5. Treat essential resources as commons, free to all.

Sebastian Gonzato, a doctor in physics, explains:

The science is clear. It is impossible to reconcile economic growth and ecological transition. For decades, politicians have been trying to sell us the myth of ‘green growth’, but our consumption of resources and our carbon emissions continue to grow unabated, and biodiversity remains in free fall.

Recalling the words of the European Environment Agency, he adds:

In the face of the social and ecological crises, only a fundamental change in our economic system will enable us to guarantee a decent standard of living for all peoples within the limits of the planet. Infinite economic growth is impossible. A human invention, this mere ideology is leading us straight to collective suicide.

Where’s the political will?

Wolfgang Cramer, lead author for the 6th IPCC report and Nobel Peace Prize winner, confirms:

Economic growth is a concept that was useful almost 100 years ago to help politicians overcome the disaster of the 1929 world economic crisis. Today, it has become a leitmotif to justify the destruction of our natural resources and to support the redistribution of wealth to the richest.

What we need is an economic system that guarantees the well-being of everyone, while respecting the planet’s limits. This is entirely possible if we have the political will.

Elliot, an engineer who prefers to remain anonymous, reminds us that the urgency of ecological disaster is nothing less than an existential threat during the European elections:

The IPCC estimates that on our current trajectory it is very likely that we will exceed the 2 degree limit, beyond which global warming will accelerate uncontrollably. A recent review article predicts 1 billion deaths in the coming century. And climate change isn’t even the most worrying environmental crisis.

With the collapse of biodiversity and pollution of all kinds, we have crossed 6 of the 9 planetary boundaries, causing irreversible damage to life on Earth, and threatening food and water security.

European elections: disruption will continue

Laura Stalenhoef, Phd candidate in cognitive psychology:

Only a few days before the EU elections, we deplore the fact that virtually no party is proposing a program that is up to the social and environmental challenge.

But we do not just denounce political inaction, we put forward concrete proposals for change: we urgently need to abandon GDP as an index of prosperity and organise a voluntary contraction of the economy before we witness ecological and social collapse. As advocates of citizen empowerment through participatory democracy, we invite everyone to join the debate about tomorrow’s world.

This civil disobedience action is part of a series from 6 to 8 June, which the activists launched last night with a colourful audiovisual action that disrupted the Place du Luxembourg in front of the European Parliament, which was packed with Eurocrats celebrating the approaching European elections. Two more events are planned:

  • 7 June, 6 pm CEST: Information meeting with specialist speakers and activism workshop, followed by an anti-consumerist urban art action.
  • 8 June, 2 pm CEST: Action to disrupt an area of over-consumption, with a focus on raising awareness.
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