Between 23 and 26 May, people across the European Union will be voting for the members of the next European Parliament.

Here are three reasons why you should vote:

Action at Power Plant Niederaussem in Germany - Aerial View © Greenpeace

Action at Power Plant Niederaussem in Germany – Aerial View © Greenpeace

  1. There are just over ten years left to avoid climate chaos and we can’t do it without the EU

The science is clear: UN experts say we have just over a decade to make serious changes to avoid a climate catastrophe. The stakes have never been higher, and the EU is best placed to lead a global response to climate change.

In the next five years the EU will decide how it responds to problems like climate change and air pollution, and how it changes the farming and transportation systems. Some political parties are placing climate change high on their agendas, some others like the Alternative for Germany (AfD) in Germany have climate-change deniers among their candidates and some like the New Flemish Alliance (NVA) in Belgium block attempts to fight climate change in their country.

People across Europe, and beyond, are already dealing with the terrible impacts of climate change – from droughts to wild fires, from floods to violent storms and rising sea levels. It is time to say no to politicians who put corporate interests over the good of people and planet. Let’s vote for people who care about the survival of humanity and the natural world.

Heroes’ Veto, pro-NGO Protest in Budapest © Bence Jardany

Civil society group organised a non-violent event on the iconic Heroes’ Square in Budapest. © Bence Jardany

  1. It’s not just our environment that’s at risk – our right to defend it is in danger too

Nationalist and authoritarian parties have gained ground in many European countries. Freedoms many people take for granted – like freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and the right to protest – are threatened.

Our rights are under attack, from Spain’s gag law to Hungary’s anti-NGO law, from the French prime minister’s proposals to restrict the right to demonstrate to Poland’s laws undermining the judiciary, from Belgium’s law allowing for the deportation of legal residents to Denmark’s ‘ghetto law’ giving different sentences based on where a crime is committed.

The European Parliament and Commission can challenge these laws, as the Parliament has done by requesting sanctions against the Hungarian government and as the Commission has done by starting a sanctions process against Poland’s government. The European elections are a chance to show authoritarian politicians that they will not go unchallenged. It’s your chance to demand that politicians stand up for a fair and equal society, which does not abuse our rights, or our planet.

Protest to Support Democracy in Romania © Ionut Brigle / Greenpeace

Romanians protest defence of democracy and  the Rule of Law © Ionut Brigle / Greenpeace

  1. The EU isn’t perfect – let’s fix it!

The European Union is far from perfect, few things are. On the other hand, the EU has made some great things possible – higher air quality, bans on toxic chemicals, cleaner water and better waste management, for example. Since many of the problems we face – like climate change, pollution and mass extinctions, as well as issues like migration – cross our borders, we have to tackle them together.

Xenophobic, nationalist parties are already working together and want to control the European Parliament. They see these European elections as their chance to reshape Europe. If they win, they will not only have an impact on immigration policy, they will also clamp down on democratic freedoms and speed up climate catastrophe.

Democracy works for us when we work for democracy. We will never improve our governments by not voting.

The European elections are crucial for climate action. For whether the EU will work for the few or the many.

Find out how to vote where you live.

Laura Ullmann is communications officer with Greenpeace EU Unit. Activist and elections campaigner Arvin Alaigh contributed to this post.