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Committed and proactive, Five Star Movement are the new Italian Greens

MEPs from the Five Star Movement during their flash-mob held in the Strasbourg seat of the European parliament to sustain the global strike on climate [personal archive]

The Five Stars Movement (M5S) are the new Italian Greens. No other national delegation in the European Parliament performed so well on climate during this European legislature, according to a special scoreboard published by Climate Action Network Europe (CAN). In the reader-friendly document the activity of all political groups on ecology during the last five years is summarised, and the outcome for Italy is amazing: MEPs from the Movement are the champions of climate, while MEPs from the League are the worst ally the Planet can wish.

CAN Europe is Europe’s leading NGO coalition fighting the climate change threat. With over 150 member organizations from 35 European countries, representing over 1,700 NGOs and more than 47 million citizens, CAN Europe promotes sustainable climate, energy and development policies throughout Europe. Among the various activities there is also report production, and in this case the analysis becomes meaningful since climate is a hot and key topic of the electoral campaign.

Climate and environment matters

About 77% of potential EU voters identify climate change as an important criterion when they have to decide who to vote for at next May, according to the latest survey by Ipsos MORI. It means that voters across Europe will put attention on the political agenda of the candidates to the next European Parliament, and of course the more parties have green commitment to offer, the more they will get proper credit – and votes – from the citizens.

Tacking global warming is certainly a point to be kept high on the agenda, but the safeguard of environment is even more important. More than eight people out ten in Europe (82%) want political parties that protect the environment, animals and nature, according to the same poll.

This attention for ecology is even higher in Italy, where climate change must be considered a matter of priority for 84% of people, while environment, animals and nature protection is key for the 85% of Italians who were interviewed.

Five Stars are the Green alternative in Italy

Good news for the Five Stars, then. According to the evaluation made by Climate Action Network Europe the Movement is the best player among the Italian forces in the European Parliament. “The Five Star Movement leads the score with over 85%, an overall good score, and is a clear positive outlier within the euroskeptic EFDD European group”, which is, on the contrary, not a good example of green sentiment.

As a group, EFDD is put by CAN Europe in the group of the “Delayers”, those who believe in the need for climate action but do not act with the required urgency. This shows that “the anti-establishment Italian party Five Star Movement needs to recognise that saving the climate requires strong international and European collaboration and runs at odds with right-wing populists’ calls for disintegration or weakening of the EU”.

Here is Five Stars paradox. Their MEPs “act as Defenders, fighting to protect European citizens from climate change”, but with unworthy friends. The consequence is that among the Italian voters M5S risks to pay the price of bad company. In trying to form new coalitions for the next European legislature, the anti-system force will have to keep in mind the green agenda. The Movement has an advantage, and it should avoid wasting it with nonsense allies.

Salvini’s League: the worst Italy can offer

When it comes to environment and climate change, Matteo Salvini’s League is close to the “absolute zero” (0,8% the score given by CAN Europe), showing a completely different approach to the Italian ruling partner. “The scandalous score of the Italian the League clearly shows that nationalistic parties cannot offer solutions to the climate crisis”, the NGO states in its evaluation. “The  far-right is a threat to the climate, as much as it is to the EU”

If M5S resulted the best in a mildly-engaged parliamentary group, the League resulted as the worst of a coalition of unwilling. Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF), the group where the League seats, was put in the bottom of the special scoreboard. ENF finds its place among those who CAN Europe considers as “Dinosaurs: who have not yet grasped the need for action against climate change and prevent others from doing more”.

If climate change really matters, Five Stars can benefit from more credibility than the other half of the Italian government. On green agenda, of course. Generally speaking this tiny advantage won’t change the outcome of the European elections in Italy, where Salvini’s party will be the Italian’s first choice.

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The project was co-financed by the European Union in the frame of the European Parliament's grant programme in the field of communication. The European Parliament was not involved in its preparation and is, in no case, responsible for or bound by the information or opinions expressed in the context of this project. In accordance with applicable law, the authors, interviewed people, publishers or programme broadcasters are solely responsible. The European Parliament can also not be held liable for direct or indirect damage that may result from the implementation of the project.