Thursday 31 October, 2019

How has policymaking evolved to keep pace with climate change? What approach to policymaking can we expect from the new Commission? What does this mean for stakeholder advocacy?

The future President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, committed to delivering a New Green Deal for Europe by spring 2020. As this initiative will affect all sectors of the economy and policy-making, on 24 October we hosted our second #WSTalks Climate Communications event – this time  we explored how industry, NGOs and policy makers will seek to Navigate the European Green Deal. It is clear that advocacy strategies will have to adapt to new policy realities.

Our panel included an effective balance between industry (Belén Flor Valle, Head of European Regulatory Analysis at Iberdrola), environmental NGOs (Nico Muzi, Director of Communications and Campaigns at Transport and Environment) and EU public institutions (Philippe Tulkens, Deputy Head of Unit Climate and Planetary Boundaries, European Commission) and national public institutions (Paul Pieter van Dam, Coordinator Climate Policy and Green Deal, Permanent Representation of the Netherlands to the EU).

While voicing some divergent views on how to fulfill our common climate ambitions, our expert panel stressed that companies, civil society organisations and public institutions can no longer avoid the debate on the need to decarbonise. All sectors must work together to address climate change.

It became clear that claims and policy proposals that were exclusively voiced by environmental organisations only a few years ago are now being assumed and embraced equally by companies and governments. Our experts highlighted that there are three main drivers to reach full decarbonisation: science, economics, and people.

Any advocacy in the field of climate policies must therefore be based on these three thematic pillars; this means that, when engaging public institutions, stakeholders need to:

  • Base positions on sound scientific evidence: in a complex environment where different technologies will compete to be part of the most efficient decarbonisation pathway, policy claims and proposals must be based on sound scientific data;
  • Put their money where their mouth is: while all organisations are expected to have a strong say on climate change and decarbonisation, messages and policy asks need to be sustained by specific and consequent investment decisions to ensure lasting resonance;
  • Rally public support and foster acceptance: the tolerance of the public – and of their elected representatives – towards greenwashing is at a minimum, while scrutiny toward companies’ climate and environmental footprint is on the rise.

In summary, climate action is a conversation no one can avoid: we all have our responsibilities and as such, a voice that deserves to be heard. Having a strong voice in such a key debate requires scientific robustness and economic coherence, while taking into account the specificities of the prism through which consumers, shareholders and policy-makers see decarbonisation. It may even require building relationships beyond traditional coalitions around concrete issues.

We invite you to join us for our next #WSTalks gathering on Thursday 12 December 2019, where we will explore the employee engagement dimension of climate change.