Climate Crisis and Human Dignity

Ioli Christopoulou participated in “The Seventh Value” six-episode podcast series presented by the Evens Foundation as part of the project “Re-Thinking Values in Europe”. In this special podcast-series think tanks from across Europe present their views on the fundamental European values: human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights. Representing the Green Tank, Ioli Christopoulou participated in the first episode on the concept of human dignity, how it became one of the fundamental values enshrined in the Treaty on European Union and what it means today as we experience climate change.

The discussion took place in September 2021 – two years after the Greek PM’s announcement on the country’s decarbonisation – and it was framed as a journey through the daily life of the transition in Western Macedonia, the daily life of the lignite areas. Although the shutdown of lignite plants is a prerequisite for the sustainability of the planet, one of the biggest challenges was and still is to ensure a just green transition with the active participation of local communities and the protection of human dignity.

Dealing with climate change and hoping for a sustainable future

Discussing the measures that should be taken to tackle climate crisis, Ioli Christopoulou focused on the political dimension and the fact that in recent years there has been a clear shift in policy, with the most ambitious policies becoming the most realistic ones. Central to this shift has been the 2015 Paris Agreement set to contain global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius; an agreement that triggered a series of structural changes in EU policy making and funding mechanisms that aim at a green energy transition in terms of justice – hence the term “just transition” – prioritizing social dialogue and the needs of local communities.

In this context, she stressed that “the choices of investments should not lead us to the next transition challenge, to a next similar situation as we have with lignite, the next dead end. So when we switch the economy in these regions, we need to invest in green solutions. There should be diversification of the economic sectors. And we must ensure that the local community is part of the discussion and is part of the solution. We do not plan for them, we plan with them; listening to their needs and adjusting, and having an ongoing dialogue, planning for the long term with the local community being engaged”.

Finally, she expressed the hope that sustainability in the future will have ensured our needs, our dignity and a liveable world for next generations. Although it is difficult to predict the future, we can imagine a world that will be better, greener and more just; a world that has moved away from the mistakes of history and has brought back to its centre the people, their rights and their dignity. As Ioli Christopoulou commented, the European Union, a union founded as a community of coal and steel, is today aiming at climate neutrality, setting an example that makes us all optimistic.

“The Seventh Value” podcast series is broadcast during May and June 2022. You may listen to the first episode on human dignity here: