“Confronting Climate Change – Red-Green Transformation in Europe and globally”

Transform!Danmark organized its eighth international conference in Copenhagen in spring 2019, continuing the debate on the development of left economic and ecological alternatives.

This time, the European Parliament elections, which were due to take place a couple of months later, were taken into account during the preparations with the inclusion of the central issue of evaluating EU climate policy aims and results.

At the time, we had not foreseen the growth of the huge global climate movement Fridays for Future involving schoolchildren, youths and others, which took off and exploded just before or around the time of the conference. The day before the conference, there were huge global climate demonstrations. Thousands also demonstrated in Copenhagen in torrential rain. Under such circumstances, an audience that was larger than usual could have been expected but turned out not to be the case. There was a great deal of competition from many other events organised that weekend. The turnout at the conference was good but not exceptional.

This also shows that the climate movement was very much an emotional reaction, revealing impatience with the lack of action taken by politicians. Although the movement grew steadily up until the EP elections, it was not a movement that discussed concrete steps and policies to combat climate change but was more of a pressure movement.

In the preamble to the conference programme, there was an introduction outlining the conference’s basic purpose:

The climate crisis calls for action. There is a focus on individual solutions, but we are in dire need of common ambitious political solutions to make a difference. Why do politicians lower ambitions and choose to obey the demands of the market? Why for example do they promote privatizations of our common goods such as energy and water, thereby losing the tools to strengthen the red and green transformation needed of our societies? This conference will seek to contribute to this debate and highlight the necessity for popular pressure and action from below.

This was exactly what the transform! conference on 16th March did. The conference contributed to the debate on how to increase the pressure for improving climate policies and why this had not happened to date. The campaign and the result of the EP elections at the end of May were strongly influenced by the mobilisation of the climate movement in Denmark and in many other European countries. Many politicians and governments have followed up on this. There is no doubt that the climate movement has brought about not only an increased focus but also increased climate policy ambitions. This is a positive development, but it remains to be seen if this will also materialise into concrete change and improvement of policies to combat climate change. Transform!Danmark will follow up on this issue.

The conference

The conference was organised with a plenary session in the morning, consisting of two speeches on the urgency to combat climate change and promote a green and just transition, viewed from two different perspectives. One came from the south in the form of Ashok Subron from Mauritius who dealt with the severe consequences of global warming in the small island states and communities of the Indian Ocean. The other came from Roland Kulke, transform! europe facilitator for Productive Transformation, on how to best create ecological transition, emphasising the need for a pro-public approach to secure the radical transformation of energy and our societies.

The first of two seminars in the afternoon was centred around an evaluation and debate of the EU’s climate policies. It involved speakers with first-hand experiences: Nanna Langevad Clifforth from NOAH, Friends of the Earth, which is one of the oldest Danish NGOs working on the issue; Manuela Kropp, who is a political advisor in the GUE/NGL (left group in the European Parliament) from DIE LINKE; and Jens Holm from the Left Party, Sweden, an MP and former MEP, who has also worked in parliament for a long time on climate and environmental issues. [1]

There was a frank and overall negative evaluation by all speakers of the panel regarding the lack of effort by the EU in the climate field so far, with for example a continuing rise in CO2/green gas emissions as a consequence and the lack of ambition that is expressed in e.g. the very low percentage set for reducing CO2 emissions, 40 % by 2030 (see presentation / power-point on Transform! Danmark’s website).

The second seminar focused on longer-term systemic solutions to the climate crisis, such as eco-socialism and ecofeminism. It featured Josef Baum, economist and geographer, from Austria and Janna Aljets from the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation in Brussels.

The conference ended with short workshops involving speakers and participants for more in-depth discussion of the themes of the day, and a final plenary session to conclude the discussions.

Ashok Subron spoke and participated at another large conference the following day: “Resistance and Alternatives”. Organised by one of Transform!Danmark’s partners Afrika Kontakt (now Global Aktion), it was centred mainly around workshop activities and discussions with introductions by a number of international speakers and activists. He was also interviewed by the online Danish left-wing paper “Solidaritet” (see interview at Solidaritet.dk on 26/03/19).

Besides Transform!Danmark and transform!europe, the conference was co-organized by Enhedslisten/ Red-Green Alliance, the Danish radical left party, as well as a number of left-wing and environmental organizations and periodicals.

Events of the transform!Danmark climate conference cycle are described here.
Some reports are to be found under this link.


[1] Jens Holm is also author of a the book Om inte vi, vem? Politiken som räddar klimatet och förändrar vänstern (Sjösala, 2017) (If not us, who? Politics that saves the climate and change the left). The book is only available in Swedish.