« Lobbys, ecological transition, common good : everything is political » Dina Rahajaharison

Dina Rahajaharison began her career in the private sector before joining the European Parliament to be closer to her convictions and work for the common good. Interview with a former chief of staff at the European Parliament,an actor of change with an atypical career.

Hello Dina. What were your missions within the European Parliament ?

I had to make sure that the regulators (authorities responsible for maintaining the balance of the economic system) and financial institutions took into account the risks associated with climate change in their activities. Banks and regulators have a role to play so that the means are invested in projects that are more conservative in natural resources. Money does not have the same impact on the planet depending on whether it is invested in assets like oil or in a fin engine like FinX.

At what point is the ecological transition engaged in Parliament ?

The debate on environmental issues has existed for a long time at European level. But it is only recently that the European Union adopted a strategy to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. This plan is part of the more global framework of the Paris Agreement of 2015. There is clear political commitment at the macro level, but insufficient. Ensuring the integration of the ecological component in every European law is a constant struggle.

Lake Maggiore as seen from Alpe Leciurt, in Valgrande National Park, Piedmont, Italy

Which brings us to this reflection: is responsible capitalism possible ?

The pursuit of profit remains one of the engines of capitalism, but it cannot be exempt from taking into account the ecological dimension.

Is the state all-powerful ?

If the state does not regulate, change is slower. The state has an interesting strike power: it can incite, support, frame or prevent when necessary. For example, banning GMOs makes production more difficult. Affected farmers have to relocate or do it differently.

What do you think of its role in the energy transition ?

Should we now help the civil aviation sector, which has been hard hit by the crisis, or, on the contrary, take the opportunity to tell ourselves that this type of mobility is harmful for the environment? This is a real question. As arbiter of long-term projects, the state has its card to play and must play a strategic role. He must reflect on the notion of the common good in the face of citizens or companies more oriented towards decisions that affect their daily lives. The entrepreneur who wants to earn a lot of money does not necessarily want to respect the environment on his own. But if the state organizes economic activity in such a way that the entrepreneur can earn money and save the planet, then it is building a win-win partnership. Norway has gone from a fleet of polluting vehicles to an electric fleet in a decade. Granted, this is a sparsely populated country, but it is a great small-scale laboratory. We must not forget that the economic and ecological dimensions are inseparable from the social dimension. The Norwegian government had to think about those who did not have the skills to build electric motors. The state must also have a supporting role in professional retraining.

Who is the state listening to ?

We live in a world characterized by the fragmentation of expertise, in which it has become difficult to speak of the truth due to the rise of conspiracy theories. However, the state needs to learn to listen to science better. This, for example, is the advantage of the IPCC, which has alerted the international community for decades to the dangers of global warming. Its role is political, having in view our common good. The nobility of politics lies in the defense of the common good and the construction of living together.

How is it possible to deal with lobbies ?

First of all, it should be made clear that certain interests put forward by lobbies may be compatible with those of society. Sometimes their technical expertise can inform democratic debate. Then, we must remember that the lobbies have always haunted the corridors of institutions, in Europe as in France, without necessarily hiding. Discernment is essential. You have to know how to display ethical behavior and treat them in the place they deserve: these are organizations which defend a particular interest, which do not necessarily have the common good in view and can have a colossal strike force. Do we have standards that improve transparency? Do we know who meets the lobbies, on what subjects? If so, we promote the awakening of consciousness. We give ourselves a chance to counter the initiatives, opposed to the general interest, of large private companies like BlackRock, whose slightest movement can move the market as a whole. Ultimately, politicians cannot ignore the voices of those who elected them.

Do we have standards that improve transparency ? Do we know who meets the lobbies, on what subjects ?

If so, we promote the awakening of consciousness. We give ourselves a chance to counter the initiatives, opposed to the general interest, of large private companies like BlackRock, whose slightest movement can move the market as a whole. Ultimately, politicians cannot ignore the voices of those who elected them.

In France, what do you think is our conception of power ?

We have a very hierarchical view of it. Whoever has it must be able to impose itself on others. However, a leader should succeed in moderating, balancing, appeasing. We would gain a lot by transforming our conception of power. But for the moment, the power is there to constrain, from top to bottom. What is missing? Wisdom and humility.

Are citizen movements necessary for the state to move ?

First of all, the individual, as a citizen, has a capital role. He has the right and the duty to vote. Then, citizen movements are breaths that allow dialogue with the state, by raising emergencies. We all have in mind the movement of yellow vests. Obviously, the limit is the exercise of violence. I believe in progress through institutions when they are democratic, just as I believe in protest movements, as long as they are non-violent.

Which countries inspire you ?

The Nordic countries and their heightened awareness of fairness. Their education system is not aimed at producing elites. Everyone - not just a few enlightened individuals - must be able to have a solid base of fundamental knowledge so that the whole community can benefit from it. Costa Rica too, for its extraordinary environmental policy. We could use it as a basis for our public policies on biodiversity. Finally, Germany, from the point of view of respect for fundamental freedoms.

For a better tomorrow, what do you think is the top priority?

Education. It is the transformative and catalyst for change in a society. The state is only the reflection of a living democracy, the representation of a general will. Children must be taught the concepts of collective responsibility and the common good.

Alexandra Corsi Chopin

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