This declaration was read at the close of the Right to Energy Forum on June 20.
As energy prices continue to rise, millions in Europe are facing energy poverty with dramatic consequences: being unable to pay energy bills, living in unhealthy, indecent housing, or receiving disconnection notices. Access to energy can be a matter of life and death — and it is a condition for living a dignified life.
As climate breakdown accelerates, its impacts are now being felt more strongly across Europe, while people in the Global South are on the frontlines of climate chaos, causing widespread loss of life and displacement.
There is now broad recognition that our energy system is failing people and the planet: contributing to a public health crisis, depriving the poorest of access to energy, causing massive energy waste, contaminating the soil and water in communities, and polluting the atmosphere. As young people and social movements mobilise to demand change, we are at a pivotal moment in time.
Climate imperatives and social justice are often pitted against each other. We reject this division and believe that the climate emergency is an opportunity to build a better world for citizens and workers. As a movement, we are dedicated to work together and build strong movements to win the battle for climate and social justice.
We demand a new energy system that puts people and the planet before profit:
- Recognising that access to energy is a basic human right and a public good that must be protected through effective policy. The inhumane practice of energy disconnections puts peoples’ lives in danger and should be prohibited by law. Immediate support should be provided to all those who cannot afford to light, heat or cool their homes.
- Democratising the energy system, through public and community ownership and control of energy, is a necessary condition to ensure a just transition to renewable energy. People have a right to make decisions about how and where their energy is produced and to participate in community renewable energy projects: Regulatory frameworks must be developed to support these rights.
- Reducing overall energy demand by improving the energy efficiency of homes. Massive renovation programs would address the housing crisis in Europe, as millions in Europe are denied the right to housing or live in homes that make them sick, waste energy and warm our climate while also creating millions of skilled, well-paid jobs and cutting emissions. The European Union should take a lead decisive role in directing funds and mobilizing political will for such programs.
We invite activists, social movements, workers and their unions to form coalitions at national and European levels to ensure achieve a fair energy transition for all.
We call on all European institutions and national governments to take the bold decisions necessary in this time of crisis.
Brussels, June 19, 2019