ELF President Felicita Medved welcomed the audience to this session of the Ralf Dahrendorf Roudtables Series and introduced the topic – Building Economies for the Future: Boosting growth and the environment – as one of the main focus issues of ELF. She showed concerns for the watering down of water and renewables targets, finalizing with the question “Which liberal solutions in constructing growth and at the same time protecting the environment?”
Hans Stein, Director of the Friedich Naumann Foundation’s Regional Office in Brussels, also welcomed the audience and introduced the session in relation to the Foundation’s activities.
Miguel Duarte, President of the event organizer Movimento Liberal Social (MLS), contextualized the topic of the session in the scope of the reality of Portugal and stated his belief in the green economy as a main driver of Portuguese economy.
The debate was then launched by Igor Caldeira (MLS) asking for a reaction of the participants in relation to the arguments of the “de-growth” movement.
Michael Theurer (MEP from FDP, Germany) argued that rather than aiming at de-growing we need to aim at a sustainable and quality growth which allows to keep the welfare system and that relies on technological innovation.
Frederick Federley (MEP from Centerpartiet, Sweden) added that the picture of no growth would jeopardize the capacity to realize technological innovation. After contextualizing the distinct meaning of “green growth” in different countries, he gave the example of Sweden as a pioneer country in such a process, giving some examples on systems to develop, like market based systems.
José Faria (MEP from MDP, Portugal) also stated his belief in green growth as the answer for the future and gave examples of issues that are contributing to it either negatively, like the lack of openness of the Iberian Peninsula electricity market with the rest of Europe, or positively, like the no-deforestation approach in Finland.
Michael Theurer then mentioned FDP’s position in relation to renewables in Germany, where they find an excessive level of subsidization which was useful in the past but is now distorting the market in a negative way for Germany’s competitiveness. Rather than this approach they would like to see a real energy market in the EU framed by an effective Emission Trading System.
Frederick Federley emphasized the consequences of not addressing the environmental issues and as a solution he said that we need to have a holistic perspective of the economy which takes into account the variety of impacts at stake.
The session proceeded with comments and answers to the audience, covering topics like comparative investments in green energy in different countries, the consumers perspective in relation to the prohibition of certain products, or the concern that there should be a plan B to guarantee social stability and wellbeing in case growth is not possible either from an economical or environmental perspective.
Igor Cladeira, Secretary General LYMEC