The focus on migration in the media and political rhetoric has made it an important topic in many people’s minds, eclipsing many others. The most recent Eurobarometer survey of public opinions in Europe showed that immigration is now most people’s biggest concern at national level. The same poll shows that environment is among the least important concerns of European people.
However, when we take a closer look, we see that environmental changes are having a huge effect on people’s lives. E.g., it is estimated that, across Europe, around 500,000 people per year die early deaths due to the effects of air pollution1. Meanwhile, climate scientists warn that, based on our current emission levels, the world is heading for a level of global warming that could exceed the “safe” threshold of 2 degrees Celsius2.
Since the financial crisis of 2007-2008, much of the progress made on environmental problems has been threatened by austerity policies, and an unwillingness of European governments to consider environmental issues as important3. Meanwhile, multinational corporations continue practices which could endanger the environment yet further, as was shown by the Volkswagen emissions scandal last year, when the German carmaker cheated to ensure cars passed emissions tests, even though their emissions exceeded limits4.
Despite this, populist politicians and media continue to focus their rhetoric on migrants and refugees. Air pollution is causing real damage to people’s health, while environmental problems are threatening the future of young people all over Europe and the world. Should we really be blaming all our problems on migration?
Whether or not we are asylum-seekers, we are all Life Seekers, who desire a better future. Do you agree that European governments should focus on the real problems facing our societies, and stop scapegoating migrants and refugees? Raise your voice by joining the #LifeSeekers campaign!
- Premature deaths attributable to fine particulate matter (PM2.5), ozone (O3) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) exposure in 2012 in 40 European countries and the EU 28. ↩
- UN warns of ‘severe, pervasive and irreversible’ impact if average temperatures rise ↩
- Austerity and EU environmental policy ↩
- What is Volkswagen accused of? ↩