BC3 organizes the Think2030 Dialogue in Madrid to discuss the climate challenges of the Spanish Presidency of the EU Council

Think 2030 - Dialogue - Spain Council Presidency Dialogue for sustainability

BC3, together with the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) and the Elcano Royal Institute, organized the Think2030 Dialogue Spain on November 16 in Madrid, in collaboration with the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the European Union

The event, which took place in the ‘Domingo Jiménez Beltrán’ Assembly Hall of the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge (MITERD), brought together political leaders and analysts from the fields of politics, business, civil society and research to discuss key sustainability issues at stake for EU policy ahead of next year’s European elections.

During each period of the Presidency of the European Union Council, the multistakeholder platform Think2030 organizes an event in the country that holds it to discuss the priorities of the Presidency and the actions necessary to address climate challenges.

In this case, the event, in which the General Director of the Spanish Climate Change Office Valvanera Ulargui participated and which included a video statement by the current Third Vice President and Minister for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge Teresa Ribera, addressed the priorities of the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU. 

Different areas were highlighted to promote ambitious global action on climate and the environment such as the reindustrialization of the EU, progress in the ecological transition and environmental adaptation or promoting greater social and economic justice. 

“It is necessary to keep this conversation open to obtain a greater understanding of how to achieve the transformations that are being promoted by the Spanish Presidency of the EU.” (Third Vice President and Minister for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge Teresa Ribera)

She also alluded to the need to be much more “effective and efficient” in recycling and reusing all precious materials, referring to the importance of the circular economy in the coming years.

During the Think203 Dialogue, three thematic discussion panels were held with sustainability experts from all over Europe where they discussed the geopolitical role of the EU in moving towards climate neutrality, the different ways to achieve a just ecological transition as a result of the Spanish experience and the importance of science for the development of inclusive public policies.

In the first panel session, aspects such as the external dimension of the European Green Deal, the trade agreements that are being debated (e.g. EU-Mercosur), the decarbonization policies of other emitting countries (such as the Inflation Reduction Law) were discussed. in the US), as well as some key policies at the European level, such as REPowerEU and the Green Deal Industrial Plan. 

Sebastian Oberthür, representative of the Brussels School of Governance & Center for Climate Change, stated how the EU should remain the driving force of a coalition of high ambitions and build bridges to shape and refine the ‘guiding star’. On the other hand, Gonzalo Escribano of the Elcano Royal Institute pointed out the importance of Latin America in its sustainable development policies, the potential for mutual learning between this continent and the EU, as well as its role in proposing a cooperative, fair, decarbonized economic model. and economically competitive.

The just energy transition was one of the main axes of debate during the Dialogue. Thus, in the round table dedicated to this topic, we reflected on the design of just transition policies in Europe and the experiences learned in Spain, especially in the coal sector. Laura Martín, director of the Spanish Just Transition Institute, highlighted some of the main transformation projects that are being developed from the Agreement for a Just Transition, after the closure of different coal plants in our territory. 

“Great work has been done in Spain demonstrating that a just transition is possible, but we have to continue, we cannot stop because there are many jobs and lives at stake. It all comes down to anticipation. Let’s be quick and not lose this great opportunity.” (Manuel Riera, UGT Spanish Union). 

During the debate, other crucial issues for the just transition were also addressed, such as the possible uses of the European Social Fund, at a time when a significant part of citizens are reluctant to some policies due to their possible social impact, such as tax on diesel in France, or the new regulation of heat pumps in Germany.

Finally, the third panel explored the need to link science and decision-making by policymakers. To this end, different scientific leaders presented their experiences in the interaction between science and public policies. Martijn Pakker from IEEP highlighted the need to build common narratives between science and the rest of the community to advance the ecological transition. For his part, Myles Allen, Professor at the University of Oxford and member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), also highlighted the role that citizens must play in this process. 

“Involving the public in the conversation is always the right way to go. Decisions that are ‘good’ in theory turn out to be bad in practice when society does not participate in the process.” (Myles Allen, Professor at the University of Oxford and member of the IPCC)

To close the event, BC3’s scientific director María José Sanz indicated the need to increase spaces for understanding, dialogue, trust and respect between the different social agents for the ecological transition. Likewise, she highlighted that citizenship is an indispensable vehicle for mobilization and change, indicating that citizen knowledge should be placed on the same level as academic and political knowledge. 

The event concluded with the intervention of Luc Bas, director of the Belgian Climate & Environment Risk Assessment Center, who pointed out that to achieve the necessary climate objectives fairly we need to “redistribute material wealth” within a general framework of reduced consumption. 

“We need to look beyond greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen the EU’s resilience through greater investment in adaptation.” (Luc Bas, director of the Belgian Climate & Environment Risk Assessment Center)

Finally, he made a brief analysis of some of the challenges of the next Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU, which, due to the upcoming European elections in 2024, will mark the end of this institutional cycle.

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María de Maeztu Excellence Unit 2023-2027 Ref. CEX2021-001201-M, funded by MCIN/AEI /10.13039/501100011033

©2008 BC3 Basque Centre for Climate Change.