WECF at COP26 – EU Side Event on Just Transition

Glasgow – 10/11/2021  WECF Executive Director Sascha Gabizon took part in the European Union Side Event panel discussion at COP26 on “Just Transition: Putting People & Fairness at the Heart of the Transition to Climate Neutrality.”  

The conversation on the “challenges and opportunities of the green transition and ways to make it work for everyone” was led by Euronews journalist Meabh Mc Mahon. Meabh was joined live in the EU Pavilion studio at COP26 by Sascha Gabizon, and by in-person and virtual co-speakers Nicolas Schmit, the EU Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, Delara BurkhardtMember of the European Parliament, James Ferguson Skea, Co-Chair of the Scotland’s Just Transition CommissionLaura Paterson from the Net Zero Technology Centre and Piotr Szymański, of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre Directorate for Energy, Transport and Climate.

“Absolutely,” was Sascha Gabizon’s first remark when asked if the transition is gender-biased. There was no reference to gender when the European Green Deal was first published, which is why she hopes that the guidebook called the Feminist European Green Deal – to be published in March with the support of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) – will provide some impetus for the implementation plans.

“We know that having a gender just Green Deal will benefit society[‘s] economy. Currently many of the new jobs will be created irenewable energy for example6 times more than in the ‘old’ energy sector (such as nuclear) We want these jobs not only to be for boys and men but also for women and girls. But we are still lagging behind on women and girls in STEM and we have great differences in salary still in Europe (16% EU gender pay gapand we have times more care work being done by women, so they have less opportunities also to become decision-makers and part of the workforce.” 

However, Sascha remarks that we also have to look at the underlying problems. Taking the example of energy poverty, Sascha explains that when the city of Barcelona looked at who lives in energy poverty it turned out that “it is mostly single-headed parent households, mostly women-headed households, and then women with disabilities, elderly women, women with a migrant background. So it is really about a very intersectional approach to inclusivity and understanding what we need to address if we want to make the Green Deal really inclusive. 

Giving examples in the three most climate impacting sectors; agriculture, transportation and energy, Sascha concretely lays out some of the recommendations for making this transition more just. Having a cap on the amount of subsidies going to big farms for example is one, and instead subsidizing small to medium size farms that are becoming organic and have low CO2 emissions – as many of the women-led farms are smaller in size. Also a strong push for “fair, affordable and safe public transportation” is imperative when designing a successful transportation model, … giving subsidies for electric cars makes no sense, as it mainly benefits middle-class men, as women in the EU have lower car ownership. In the energy sector, she recommends looking at “prosumer models” and providing support to women to enter and become leaders in renewable energy cooperatives.

In the end, it is about funding and about the choices we make, Sascha stresses. We should stand up and speak up to our governments here that we want them to invest their money better. They should invest it in this Green Deal.” 

Watch the full panel discussion HERE (Skip to 33.18 to hear Sascha Gabizon’s first remarks)