Climate fatigue isn’t a sign that Europeans are in denial – it’s a sign of their fear
(The Guardian, 8 Nov 2023) While Europe is battered by the climate crisis, governments must reassure voters that green costs will be fairly shared.
At a time when we should be accelerating action, there is backtracking … We are hurtling towards disaster, eyes wide open.” A few months ago, the UN secretary general António Guterres used these words to warn that the collective battle against the climate crisis is losing political steam. Guterres was right: the collective response is pitiful. But it’s not just the politicians.
Clear evidence of climate fatigue emerges from recent opinion polls on voting intentions in the next European parliament elections, in June 2024. While European green parties are expected to lose more than a third of their seats, rightwing climate-sceptic conservatives are expected to win big.
This shift in public sentiment may even result in the EU backtracking on its so-called green deal, a core policy that has defined Ursula von der Leyen’s term as president of the European Commission. Scepticism is widespread within the member states whose governments call the shots in the EU. In the general election in the Netherlands on 22 November, Frans Timmermans, a former European environment commissioner and architect of the green deal, will have his work cut out to win over the Dutch public – a majority of whom support farmers in opposing government plans to cut pollution by reducing livestock herds.