19 Sep, 2018

Young liberals committed to fight climate change

Twenty young elected local liberal leaders from twelve different countries debated on Monday 17 September in Brussels how to urgently and effectively address the issue of climate change at a local and regional level, embracing their leadership role.

Climate change and the environment are the key issues of our time, and no one is affected more than today’s youth, making them the best placed to tackle this global issue: they already experience climate change and will have the most time to do something about it.

At the Young Elected Liberal Leaders Summit, hosted by the ALDE Group in the Committee of the Regions (ALDE-CoR), all the participants agreed that their generation might in effect be the last one able to stop climate change. All are therefore more than eager to contribute and show there is an alternative, starting at their own local level.

The participants concluded that it is important that the young show leadership, to take matters of their future in their own hands by convincing the public, through policies, actions, education and media, of what needs to be done to overcome resistance and obstacles.

One of the participants, Sebastian Leiss from Germany, explained what makes a good leader for him: "One of the most important things of what makes a good leader is to be yourself – you can’t convince other people if you don’t have ideas of your own and if you’re not convinced and confident yourself. Our young local leaders focused on some of these challenges in which leadership and vision is sorely needed: what do you do when the solutions aren’t cheap or popular, or when there is a strong industrial lobby that opposes them? Does one continue when targets are met or is complacency acceptable? What is the right thing to do? Is there actually a ‘right thing’ to do?"

Another young elected leader at the conference, Ida-Maria Skytte from Denmark, added: "There are still people who are critical to climate change, who don’t believe it is happening right now. We need to educate them and show that climate change is not only real but also especially dangerous. We also have obstacles in politics – there are politicians who want to prioritize ‘other things’ than the climate, which is wrong: if you don’t focus on climate change, then we won’t have a planet anymore and can’t prioritise anything else at all. There won’t be any ‘other things’."

The participants included Kasparas Adomaitis (Lithuania), Anti Haugas and Erkki Keldo (Estonia), Dimas Gragera Velaz (Spain), Felix Maximilian Recke and Sebasian Leiss (Germany), Ida-Maria Skytte and Olli Rainio (Finland), Julien Bouchet and Vincent Chauvet (France), Kristian Nielsen (Denmark), Naoise O’Cearuil and Niall Kelleher (Ireland), Oktay Hakaev (Bulgaria), Oleksandr Toporivskiy (Ukraine), Rhys Taylor (UK) and Yannick Shetty (Austria).

Find out more about the event on the ALDE-CoR's website.

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