We’ve all watched the last six months in disbelief, hoping that the Covid-19 crisis would at least provide a doorway to a new and better world. But instead, what we all feared has unravelled before our eyes: a return to an even worse version of ‘business as usual’. Public services slashed, environmental safeguards thrown aside and public money used to fund the worst polluters as we hurtle further into a climate and socio-economic emergency. 

Greenpeace Poland activists starting the Climate Care Uprising. © Max Zieliński / Greenpeace
Greenpeace Poland activists starting the Climate Care Uprising. © Max Zieliński / Greenpeace

We’re sick of hearing companies and governments tell us they’re doing their best they can to save the planet while we watch scenes of ecological collapse, like the record-breaking Siberian wildfires and the devastation of communities largely in the Global South, unfold before our eyes, only to watch our leaders return to the same broken system that led us here. Politicians’ myopic focus on ‘saving the economy’ and the irrational urge to get back on a production growth path that we, and the planet, simply can’t afford. We need more than greenwashing and politicking – we need real change.

To force European governments to act on these interconnected crises Greenpeace is joining over 70 activities with grassroots climate justice groups across Europe to start a Climate. Care. Uprising to demand that every Euro of recovery money helps us recover from the devastating effects of Covid-19, climate breakdown and decades of neoliberalism and centuries of colonialism. We are standing alongside the climate justice movement across 16 European countries and 19 different countries worldwide, 55 cities, towns and villages from 23 September until 15 October.

It’s a huge moment of crisis for our planet, with unprecedented amounts of public recovery money being made available to deal with the fallout from Covid-19. Instead of using this opportunity to recover to a greener and fairer system, our political leaders have decided to ignore the science and use public funds to prop up polluting corporations who line their pockets through human and environmental exploitation. In July our national leaders slashed the EU budget for green jobs, dedicated less than a third of recovery money proposed for tackling climate change and discussed emissions targets that are not in line with the Paris Agreement. These decisions are dangerous and must be challenged.

Despite presenting themselves as world leaders in climate ambition and human rights, European leaders are failing to use pivotal political opportunities currently available to them to support climate action robust enough to avoid climate breakdown. Europe is responsible for historical and neo-colonialism and environmental extractivism as well as much of today’s global emissions, and therefore has a responsibility to act. It is crucial that European leaders agree to a Climate Law that is in line with the Paris Agreement this autumn. The European Commission proposes 55% emission reductions by 2030 compared to 1990. That’s not enough, according to science we need a 65% reduction to avoid total climate chaos.

Covid-19 has exposed the deep flaws in an antiquated and unjust economic system. We can’t go back to normal when ‘normal’ is a toxic mix of climate emergency, systemised oppression and inequality, and a dangerous political shift to the right, leading to a scary and unpredictable climax. We must act to make sure our governments put people and planet first, and to take care of our economy, ecologies and communities. The crises we face can’t be solved individually – acting together is our strength.

Join with us for the Climate. Care. Uprising. Take part in an event near you, or make one of your own, wherever in Europe you are. This is our opportunity to change the system – Let’s make sure our leaders can’t ignore us!

Georgia Whitaker, Lead Campaigner for European Climate and Fossil Free Future.