Commentary. To accelerate the ecological conversion and make Italian society and our economy low-carbon, we need to start implementing the Green New Deal starting with the new budget law.

Italy must write the Green New Deal into the next budget law

Facing up to the climate crisis is a global challenge. It’s not a partisan issue, but a struggle between the few who have a lot and the many who have little, and who are suffering the most from the effects of pollution and climate change. The millions of people who took to the streets Friday for what has been dubbed the Earth Strike, the third global strike for the climate, have understood this very well. This day marks a fitting end for the week of mobilization which started with the Climate Action Summit at the United Nations.

The numbers describe the situation in stark terms: greenhouse gas emissions are continuing to rise, the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has reached unprecedented levels, and the 2015-2019 five-year period has been the one with the highest average temperatures ever recorded: we have now reached temperatures 1.1 degrees higher compared to pre-industrial times. This is why we can no longer afford to procrastinate.

If you like what Greta is doing, if you’re worried about the possible collapse of the Planpincieux glacier on the Italian side of Mont Blanc—now is the time to act.

As an environmentalist, I’ve been waiting for many years for a government that would talk about the environment and sustainable development, according to the principles enshrined in our Constitution. However, it is necessary to go from words to actions, not allowing these slogans to become nothing more than a greenwashing operation.

To meet the challenge posed by the climate, we need coordinated actions, agreed on at the international level: we must continue on the course mapped out by the Paris Agreement, but we also need to increase the individual targets and actions pursued by the individual states.

To accelerate the ecological conversion and make our society and our economy low-carbon, we need to increase the commitments in our Energy and Climate Plan, and start implementing the Green New Deal starting with the new budget law.

We need to start gradually cutting off environmentally harmful subsidies: currently at €19 billion per year, a portion of which can be immediately rescinded, such as the extraordinary and scandalous exemption on royalties due for the extraction of hydrocarbons. More generally, we need to introduce an environmentally conscious tax environment, which would uphold the principle that “the polluter pays” and also respect social justice.

This doesn’t mean new taxes: it means a new system in which the ridiculously low fees being paid in Italy for taking advantage of common goods, such as the water, beaches, landscapes and highways, would be revised upwards, and which would reward environmentally conscious products and services.

In this way, we would have resources to invest in a much more serious manner in a renewable and distributed model of energy generation, in innovative technologies, sustainable mobility, increased energy efficiency for the housing stock, restoring severely contaminated territories and implementing solutions for hydrogeological instability.

Furthermore, the time has come to finally approve a legislative measure against the destruction of the soil.

If the government wants to keep talking about a Green New Deal, we must quickly and efficiently overcome all the obstacles—including non-technological ones—which are blocking the advent of the circular economy, by introducing regulations aiming towards an end of waste model.

This is a very important matter for our green businesses, which would help to ensure eco-friendly waste management and to fight illegality—however, the current draft of the climate decree merely mentions this in words, without offering any practical solution.

Our ambitions must be commensurate with our expectations, and the measures must arise from a debate among the political forces, trade unions, businesses and social forces.

This is because in order to be truly effective, environmental policies must be shared by all, and solutions which are accepted as effective must be proposed.

As Alex Langer has already pointed out, the ecological conversion will only succeed if it is viewed as desirable on the social level.

We need an environmentalism that would fight populism with scientific arguments, but which would also be able to have popular appeal, by promoting democracy, local territories and a healthy economy, finally giving representation to the people whose lives are marked by the climate!

Rossella Muroni is an environmental activist and a member of the Italian Chamber of Deputies for the Liberi e Uguali party.

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