The Economic, Scientific and Quality of Life Specialist Department at the
Directorate-General for Internal Policies has carried out a study for the Committee on
Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL). This is about whether and to what extent
the policy framework at EU and national level is sufficiently equipped to deal
with the socio-economic impacts related to climate change policy. In
particular, the study aims to analyse the effectiveness of policy-making in
addressing social inequalities in the context of climate policy and to identify
gaps and areas for further action.
Key points of the study
The data collection and analysis is based on three research approaches:
- climate policy and impact on inequality,
- EU funds and instruments to address negative impacts
and to ensure a just transition; and
- the approaches of individual Member States; specifically,
the policies in Austria, Greece, the Netherlands, Slovakia and Spain were
considered in case studies.
What results were found?
The study concludes that the social impacts of climate protection measures
at EU or Member State level have so far not been examined systematically enough
and that some aspects are hardly taken into account (e.g. ethnicity, race).
The EU and its various funds (e.g. ERDF, ESF+) have, in principle,
comprehensive capabilities that can cover all socio-economic impacts of climate
policy and resulting inequality dimensions. As a result, there is no need for
new policy instruments, but to improve the understanding of the emerging
socio-economic inequalities through climate change policy and to use the
existing instruments and means to address these impacts accordingly.
Dimensions of inequality are not sufficiently recognised
Climate change adaptation measures can have a positive impact on people's
overall quality of life as clean air and water have a nutritional value for
all, for instance. Climate policies can have a negative impact when it comes to
affordable access to services or housing. Low-income people, older people,
people with disabilities, women and ethnic minorities have to use more of their
disposable income for climate-related adaptation, and this puts these groups of
people at higher risk of displacement. So far, there is a lack of corresponding
data, which is also related to the fact that the problem is only recognised and
acknowledged to a limited extent in some cases.
Approaches of the study
In order to be able to better analyse the effects of climate change and
climate policy, there is a need for appropriate research that also includes the
aforementioned aspects, in particular. This is likely to be parallel to raising
awareness and understanding of the issue. When talking about buzzwords such as
energy or traffic poverty, this should be done on the basis of uniform
definitions at EU level, which can then also be used to collect reliable data
in the Member States according to uniform standards.
The positive effect of such definitions would also be that the existing
instruments – i.e. the various support funds – could focus more specifically on
certain vulnerable groups, which could be analysed through the common
definitions and better data collection.