I´m so happy to be here, among friends, in the global family of Greens.
However I have to tell you that all the Swedish Greens today are in mourning. Yesterday we received the horrible news that Zaida Catalan, former spokesperson of young Swedish Greens, lost her life in Congo Kinshasa where she worked for the UN, investigating human rights abuses and war crimes.
Zaida made an outstanding contribution to the green movement in Sweden and globally for many years. She became 36 years.
I´d like to take this opportunity to honor Zaida with a minute of silence.
Dear Green friends, all of you, from 90 countries from all over the globe, it has never, ever been more necessary to be Green than now.
As we gather here today, the world is facing enormous challenges: the climate crisis, increasing numbers of conflicts, rising inequality, a rise in nationalism and racism, attacks on democracy, human rights and women’s rights – attacks even on science and truth.
Populism is on the rise. That is why we, as Greens, are needed more than ever. Our fact based argumentation, our bold proposals for real change, our vision of a really sustainable society where we are respectful of our planet, the animals, future generations and all fellow human beings – that makes us the complete opposites of the populist movement.
We see no simplistic answers to complicated questions – but what IS simple is in what direction we are going!
We have the compass, we know where we are going,, for the sake of our children. When the headwind is strong, blowing straight against us, we don´t stop! We struggle. We work! We set sails! And we build… wind mills!
Have you heard about "The Arctic death spiral"? No, it´s not a horror movie. No, its not a Finnish heavy metal band either.
No, it´s this. Something much, much more serious.
Something fundamental is changing. In November last year, the Arctic, was 20 degrees warmer than normal for a few days. And in February this year, it was 25 degrees above normal. 25 degrees! The World Metherological organization called it a “polar heatwave”. And we are not only talking about only individual observations. As you can see here at the graph the ice sheet of the Arctic has decreased steadily over the last decades, and it could be completely ice free summertime in another three decades.
And Antarctica doesn’t look any better.
This crack in the Larse C-ice shelf, is more than 100 miles long, and earlier this year, we received reports that a gigantic iceberg, 2,000 square miles, risked pulling away from the continent.
All around the world we see the same things: something is fundamentally changing.
We see a drought in the Horn of Africa for the third year in a row, we see the Himalayan glaciers melting, and we see extreme weather events and new records set around the globe continously! In Sweden this week we had the warmest days of March ever on record – and records go back 250 years!
For so many years the green movement has warned the world, and fought hard for this not to happen. Our entire movement was created to address this blatant abuse of our planet!
And for thant WE have been called naive, unrealistic, dreamers.
Our policy has been described as a threat to the economy, to businesses and to jobs and people.
But the thing is – we are not the dreamers! We are not unrealistic! It´s those that believe that coal, nuclear and oil is the future, and infinite depletion of resources and accumulation of waste can go on forever, who are dreaming!
But it´s time now for them to finally wake up! The great threat to our economies is not the green transition, its not change – but it is business as usual!
There is some good news, and that is: The world has woken up. The Paris agreement is a proof of that, although some big countries now are pressing the snooze button, wanting to dream on about coal and oil, but they are going to wake up and realize things have already started to move.
We are in the beginning of nothing less than a global green revolution. A transformation of our energy, our transport system and ultimately our entire economy.
You know that for the third year in a row co2 emissions globally actually have not increased, although the worlds population and economy have grown. That is hopeful.
And a greener economy is not only more environmentally sustainable, it is also more equal, peaceful; making energy locally owned, bringing people together, empowering communities.
And to those that are talking about saving jobs in the coal industry? Do you know that 43 percent of the people employed in the energy sector in the US are employed in solar energy? Only 22 percent work in oil, gas and coal combined!
Last year more than half of the new power capacity in the world was renewable, and in Europe it made up 90 percent of the new power.
And prices are plummeting. Electricity from solar facilities are now as cheap, or cheaper than new coal-fired power plants! The green transition cannot be stopped by anyone, not even by a president!
Martin Luther King did not say "I have a problem." He said "I have a dream". So let's tell the world about our dream, our vision, our plan.
But to make it really happen - we need more Greens in government!
The Swedish government, does not only have six green ministers – you see them here behind me - it is also the first feminist government in the world!
The Swedish Green Party came in to government 2,5 years ago, for the first time in history. It has been a challenging road to take, in many ways. We’ve had to deal with lot of issues that were new to us. We’ve had to compromise in a number of areas. And of course, we cannot get exactly what we want all of the time.
But we are changing Sweden.
We are in the middle of a green transition, and it’s really happening! This week Sweden came out as number one when Carbon Market Watch ranked 28 EU Member states climate policies!
So what have we done – so far?
We have put forward a climate law obliging all future governments to achieve net zero emissions by 2045
This is me signing the climate law by the way!
We also have a broad cross-party agreement to have 100 percent renewable electricity by 2040.
And mind you - Without nuclear power!
We have put forward the largest climate investment program in the Swedish history, with everything from high-speed rail, solar and biogas and programs for human-friendly cities with bike lanes.
We are introducing new ways to measure prosperity, not only counting GDP but also social and environmental values.
We have become the largest contributor to the UN green climate fund per capita, and we are giving 1 percent of GNI in development aid.
And we have introduced tax breaks on repairs, so shoemakers, tailors and bicycle repairers can prosper, and the need to buy new stuff will decrease.
Almost every week we take decisions that takes us closer to reach the Paris Goals. Today, just a few hours ago, the Swedish government took the decision to annul emission allowances that equal one fifth of Swedish emissions. We can do this because emissions have decreased more rapidly than anticipated. And it is a drastic change in policy from our predecessors who sold excess emission allowances to investment banks. But with the Greens in power those days are over!
Being in government means we can push through real green policies.
I’m not saying that it is easy. Obviously we have to compromise. A party of 7 percent cannot get through 100 percent of the policy.
But that's how we have to work. It’s not about one, single decision that changes everything. It’s about hundreds of small steps, happening every day.
My friends, the world more than ever needs green governments! More Green governmens!!
“How do you know when something actually starts? A grain of sand is added to another grain of sand, and before you know it there is a pile of sand in front of you.”
Those are the words of Auschwitz survivor Heidi Fried. Today she is 91 years old and lives in Sweden. She continues tirelessly to tell young people about her experiences during the second world war. But not only that, she also talks about what she sees today: increased racism, hatred, populist politicians, right-wing extremism, and increasingly aggressive campaigns of disinformation.
She warns that this could rapidly turn into something very dangerous. But you have to see, recognize the growing pile of sand in front of you. Not turn a blind eye.
We must learn from history. In the 1920s and 30s, right wing and fascist movements grew in many European countries. Those movements looked different in different countries, but they all shared the same idea of ultra-nationalism. They argued that the nation was something sacred, which must be defended at all costs.
Everything considered “weak” had to be removed, excluded from the nation. Those movements became more and more aggressive, they attacked peple with other religions, ethnic minorities, LGBT people, they attacked artists, intellectuals, media - they attacked everything that disturbed their image of the perfect, pure nation. Italy first. Germany first.
We all know how it ended. But how did it start? When did the grains of sand become a pile?
We need to remember that the best way to gain power for right wing or fascist parties is cooperating with other political parties. Another survivor of the Holocaust, Emmerich Roth, puts it like this:
“Evil's greatest wish is to be let in and taken by the hand, for once inside and accepted, it can spread like a contagious epidemic.”
In Italy and in Germany during the 20s and 30s there were conservative parties who believed that they could cooperate with the fascists. They believed they could build alliances with them to win power, but still push through their own policies.
They let evil in, and learned that it is impossible to tame a monster.
Now we see how -nationalist, movements once again are emerging in country after country.
Travel around the world and you hear the same message: America first! UK first! France first!
Grains of sand are added to grains of sand.
And when these extreme right-wing movements are invited in, values that we have taken for granted are questioned: Human rights, democracy, free press, transparency, women’s rights and tolerance.
We must learn from history. We must never let those movements in. Let us never forget the message from Hedi Fried and Emmerich Roth.
And we need to mobilise. We need to get people actively engaged. The development in Europe and across the Atlantic is a harsh reminder that democracy isn’t a given.
Democracy is not a service that you can expect your politicians to deliver. Democracy is something you have to participate in. Because without the participation of the people, democracy will not survive.
But amidst all these worrying trends, there is also a yearning for something different.
A longing for hope. Visions. Leadership.
Because we are at a crossroads. And we greens offer a different way forward. Our movement is built on the understanding that we only have one planet, and that we must find a way to live sustainably within the boundaries of nature. Our movement is built on solidarity, not only with all the people of the world, but also with future generations, with animals and nature.
We stand for openness and freedom, not only for goods or trade but for the people. And we base our policies on facts, we cherish free research, free media, freedom of thought and diversity. We believe in a better future for everyone.
We stand for everything that the extremists hate.
This yearning for leadership became clear two months ago, when I signed the Swedish climate law. The overwhelming love I received from all over the world is proof in itself.
It also became clear a month ago, when Sweden, together with Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark organized a conference in Brussels to raise funds for abortions and sexual and reproductive rights, as a response to the US decision to cut this support. In only three weeks we managed to mobilise leaders from over 50 countries and collect over 180 million euros!
And it became clear in December last year when Europe got its first green president: Alexander van der Bellen!
And not least, it became clear two weeks ago when GroenLinks in the Netherlands went from 4 to 14 mandates in the election
Jesse Klaver, the leader of GroenLinks, explained the success story like this:
“Stand for your principles. Be straight. Be pro-refugee. Be pro-European. That’s the message we have to send to Europe: You can stop populism!”
And it is true: we can stop populism, right-wing extremism and nationalism. In fact, we are a counterweight to them.
When they see the world in black and white – we see colors.
When they stand for fear – we stand for hope.
When they stand for hatred – we stand for love.
But that doesn’t mean we should be naive.
We Greens cannot just talk about a better world, we must do everything in our power to make real change happen. Because we really have no time to lose. Our challenges are imminent.
We must act now. And show every day that we can take concrete steps forward.
Together we are a powerful global movement. Our entire movement was created to address the very same challenges that the world is dealing with right now.
And around the world there are so many people who share our dreams.
People who yearn to feel hope, people who are longing for visions, longing for leadership, longing for a better planet.
Never forget that we are many. And that together we are strong. You'll never walk alone.
Thanks for listening, and I wish all the strenght to all green parties in upcoming elections, you are needed to make a real difference, and now let’s have a fantastic congress together!