Photo shows the cracked riverbed of the La Viñuela reservoir in Spain in 2022. Photo: European Union.
12 Jul 2023, 10:00
Worries over climate change effects and cost of living fears set scene for EU election campaign

Climate and energy high on the agenda in run up to 2024 EU parliament elections

In next year's EU parliament elections, citizens from across the European Union will vote to shape the bloc’s climate and energy policy in the years leading to the 2030 climate target. In the past four years, the European Union has transformed key areas of its climate and energy legislation as part of the Green Deal – Europe’s strategy to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. The next EU executive will have to ensure the the 27-member bloc moves from words to action to implement ambitious policy and asserts itself as the global climate leader it aims to be. Polling continuously shows that voters see climate change as a key threat facing the continent and bloc, even as the green transformation is becoming increasingly politicised. Climate action such as rules on how people heat their homes or which mode of transport they use increasingly influence citizens' daily lives. This dossier highlights what role climate and energy policy could play across member states in the run-up to the 2024 EU parliament election, which will take place between 6-9 June. [UPDATE: Adds Italy Q&A]

Cost of living fears set scene for tough climate debates a year before 2024 EU vote

Photo: European Union, EP, Denis Lomme.

With its Green Deal strategy to make Europe climate neutral by 2050, the outgoing EU executive has reiterated the climate leadership role of the 27-member union. However, as citizens increasingly feel that the changes needed to avert the worst effects of climate change influence their day-to-day lives, climate policy has become more politicised and is set to play a major role in the 2024 election campaigns across the EU. After more than a year of fighting in Ukraine, Europe is still struggling with the consequences of the energy crisis, where high prices put leaders under pressure to shield businesses and households. Analysts say there is a chance that recent crises, including the coronavirus pandemic, could lead to a more Europeanised election campaign, usually driven by national issues in the member states. Read the article here.

Q&A – French torn between energy price fears and climate threat a year before EU vote

Photo by Mat Napo on Unsplash.

One year from now, French citizens will go to the polls to have their say in the makeup of the European Parliament, together with citizens from across the EU. Energy and climate policy could play a decisive role in the elections, as high energy bills are likely to stay whilst the war in Ukraine rages on, and environmental activists are taking the streets to push the government toward rapid decarbonisation. For the French, fears of high bills on the one hand and scorching heatwaves on the other will influence their choice. Commentators expect the European elections to look much like a national political debate ahead of the next presidential election in France. Polls suggest that the current government could again land behind right-wing nationalists as in the 2019 European vote. Read the Q&A here.

Q&A – Climate may get only sporadic attention as economy to dominate Croatia’s “super election year”

Photo: European Union/EC.

The 2024 European Parliamentary elections will kick off what has been coined a “super election year” for Croatia, together with parliamentary and presidential votes later in the year. Political analysts expect heated debate as politicians will focus on issues such as how to deal with rising costs of living also due to recently high energy prices. Climate change is less likely to be a stand-alone topic in the election campaigns. It garners only sporadic attention in both the media and politics, usually when the country is faced with extreme weather events. Read the Q&A here.

Q&A – Germany faces heated debates over climate policy in 2024 EU election

Photo: Wettengel/CLEW

Voters in Germany, alongside other EU citizens, will head to the polls one year from now to elect a new European Parliament and lay the groundwork for the next European Union executive to shape energy and climate policy for five years. Climate change was the top issue for German voters in the last European election in 2019, following summer heatwaves and a series of powerful protests by Fridays for Future student activists. June 2024, however, could see a different kind of “climate election”: many voters are more concerned about issues such as the cost-of-living crisis or security policy following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Intense public debates over a government proposal to effectively ban new oil and gas heaters showed that tensions may intensify as citizens see their daily lives increasingly affected by climate action. Regional elections in several eastern German states later in 2024, where populist and far-right parties have especially seized on people’s fears of change and high prices, may add to a tense environment. Read the Q&A here.

Q&A – Italy strives to become EU energy leader a year ahead of 2024 EU vote

Photo: European Union.

In early June 2024, Italian citizens will head to the polls to elect their representatives in the European Parliament, along with the other member states. Public debate remains fierce in lieu of continued inflation and energy woes, with surveys suggesting a higher turnout than last time. Concerns over the impacts of climate change have risen following one of the hottest and driest years on record, especially amongst the young, who are demanding faster and more ambitious action. Meanwhile, the sitting government, which took office less than a year ago, has repeatedly criticised European green transition plans, arguing that these could undermine Italian industry, even through it has shown continued support for European climate goals. Read the Q&A here.

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