EuroHealthNet welcomes the European Green Deal and proposed European Climate Law in principle as crucial steps towards ensuring a transition to a more sustainable future. We particularly welcome the Commission’s emphasis on the need for the transition to be “just and socially fair”, and its acknowledgement of the impact of the climate crisis on wellbeing.
EuroHealthNet used the opportunity for feedback to highlight the strong links between the environment, health, and inequalities, and urged the Commission to take these links into account in all aspects of the proposed climate law, building environmental policy whilst looking through health and equity lenses. The INHERIT initiative, which EuroHealthNet coordinated, provides tools and recommendations on how to jointly consider opportunities for a “triple-win” between the environment, health and equity. Drawing on this, we recommend that the studies and assessments foreseen in the climate law take into account inequalities and the distributional impacts of policies or interventions on people across socio-economic gradients. Whilst recognising that EU Institutions have limited competencies to ensure Member States’ compliance with the law, we also wonder if stronger measures could not be included that lie within the scope of their powers to hold EU Member States accountable. Measures that encourage and enable Member States to monitor implementation as well as effects on health and distributional effects, and benchmarking of Member States performance will in this respect be crucial.
The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the perils of not addressing the grave challenges we face in relation to the environment, health and social inequities, and of not addressing these issues in integrated ways. The need to mitigate the economic damage resulting from the pandemic provides an opportunity to do so now, in more systematic ways, and to build an economy fit for the 21st century.