With the Palermo Climate Declaration citizens from across Europe call to take urgent (re)action

A few days before the opening of COP26, citizens from across Europe gathered in Palermo, Italy, to finalise the Palermo Transnational Declaration Against the Climate Catastrophe. Their call for COP26 to take urgent action to avoid climate catastrophe includes a demand that the global approach to tackling climate change be democratised.

Published on 16 November 2021 at 11:38

The Palermo Climate Declaration is the culmination of a participatory process involving more than 20 local popular assemblies, held across the European Union over the course of 2021. 

Citizens assemblies are gathering support across the continent as a way of engaging people beyond traditional elections but few have successfully been conducted at such a wide transnational scale. 

The assemblies – which have put climate change at the heart of discussions about the future of Europe – were organised by European Alternatives and Citizens Takeover Europe

Citizen representatives from the local citizens assemblies which took place in over 14 countries across Europe joined together to create a pan-European series of key recommendations based on the national level, independent citizen-led discussions on how to prevent environmental catastrophe. 

The Palermo Climate Declaration was created in the context of the Conference on the Future of Europe


Palermo Climate Declaration:

“Avoiding Climate Catastrophe”

We, the Palermo Transnational Assembly – people coming together following 20 local assemblies in all corners of Europe – acknowledge the mounting impacts climate change has on our lives and the biodiversity on our planet. 

Living on a safe and healthy planet is a fundamental right for everyone and for future generations. Based on the failures to include and protect marginalized groups and youth from climate consequences, there is a need to rebuild democracy in order to put citizen power of all humans, workers and frontline communities at the core. 

We urgently need to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, invest in the development of new technologies and green public infrastructure, preserve the limited resources that we have, and recognize ecocide as a crime against humanity and nature. Policies need to take into account social justice and the rights of nature, be implemented in an urgent manner and reach efficient objectives. 

Therefore, the following principles guiding us to solutions should be:

  1. Marginalized groups, workers and youth must be included in developing climate policy in a meaningful and effective way.
  1. Feminism, antiracism and antidiscrimination are core principles of any climate policy.
  1. People and nature should not be treated like resources to be extracted: our people and planet must be prioritized before profit and pollution.
  1. No one should be left behind in the ecological transformation, and everyone should have a political voice in it. There is no climate justice without social justice.
  1. Democracy, transparency, accountability and responsibility should be the driving forces behind the revolution of our extractive and exploitative economic system.
  1. Citizens should be given legally binding ownership over the decision-making processes through citizens assemblies and direct democracy: only the people can lead the rapid and drastic changes that are required in our polluting practices.
  1. The polluter must pay for pollution in a way that rapidly ensures the transformation of our economic system away from polluting industries to social and ecological justice and sustainability.
  1. The fiscal burden in our societies must be moved from the taxation of labour to the taxation of industries that deplete natural resources.
  1. The circular economy must become universal and waste must be reduced to a minimum. Reuse, repair and recycling must be the norm.
  1. Awareness raising and political education about climate issues and of democratic processes is a prerequisite to change the status quo. Learning about the respect of the planet should be part of compulsory education in schools.
  1. Addressing climate change requires immediate political responses and cannot only be left to individual responsibility. Climate treaties must be binding and countries which do not respect their commitments must face sanctions.
  1. Energy, as a common good in public ownership, should be ensured to achieve a globally just and sustainable transition.
  1. Water and air are common goods of humanity that must not be privatized and should be legally protected.
  1. Respect the knowledge of communities that know how to restore land, revitalize nature and produce food in a sustainable way.
  1. Invest in science, research and technology to understand, prevent and address climate change and its effects, and base all policies on the scientific consensus.
  1. Climate asylum should be recognized and everyone should have the right to choose their place of home. 
  1. Europe has a historic responsibility for global warming through industrialization, ecological and human destruction through capitalism and colonialism: Europe must show global leadership whilst promoting cooperation with other parts of the world, acknowledge its historic faults, and ensure reparations.

We all know avoiding a climate catastrophe requires urgent action: the people and citizens must now take the political lead and build a better world, including through currently available and new instruments of participatory and direct democracy – by, with and for the people!

The Conference on the Future of Europe must ensure that the EU acts in accordance with these principles and set a new course towards a democracy, just and sustainable planet. 

For further information please contact Ophélie Masson.


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