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Climate change: broken promises and the way forward

November 28, 2019

 

 

Recent evidence on climate change is troubling. Despite enormous technological leaps, we have made little progress in mitigating climate change and, overall, global greenhouse gas emissions continue rising. We are gambling with the future of this planet and every day that goes by with us accepting no-action as a norm, narrows down our possibilities for creating a more prosperous and egalitarian future. History shows us that when societies face adversity, there is little hope for widespread liberties. Be certain that a dystopian future in which we resort to live indoors bares little hope for achieving better standards of living for everyone.

 

There is nothing more hurtful than a broken promise. For an entire generation, climate change represents just that. We naively thought that the battle could be won if sustainable energy technologies became better and cheaper. Now we know that this is not enough. In recent years, the politics of division have put climate change second to many other issues. Worse, climate change has been used as a weapon in politics. Who worries about climate change?- politicians ask-, their answer: the affluent, the educated, foreigners and globalists, the young and inexperienced. And it has worked, it has created an artificial division on the issue and, more important to them, it has delivered votes, it has delivered power.

 

Yet true power comes from empowering the unprivileged. Climate change action should become just that. The mitigation of climate change in a global scale is about expanding existing industries, creating new ones and making our environment safer and healthier. Everyone can and shall benefit from this endeavor. In contrast, pretending climate change is not happening, or that it will be solved by itself, that, I am afraid, will ultimately make life harder, precisely for those that struggle the most today.

 

COP 25 is just around the corner, thus the question is, what can we do to

make real progress solving the climate crisis? There is no doubt in my mind that now, more than ever, we need to be relentless. We have to accept we do not have the upper hand right now. For decades, a global accord on climate change had been pursued. In 2015, at Paris, a first effective form of such an accord had been reached, optimism was running high. Soon after that, elections showed us that we were wrong, naïve and probably careless. We reached an accord, but we never really care to ask, what was in it for the average citizen. Turns out, the average voter does have a say in the matter.

 

We will go through an era of unfavorable political conditions for climate action and thus, the only way forward is to be relentless in our pursuit for answers. We need to know just by how much the poor, the unprivileged and the uneducated will be worse-off with climate change. We need to know this in detail and we need to make this knowledge widespread, the public needs to know. We also need answers with respect to how make climate change policy work for everyone. More importantly, we need to be ready for when the pendulum of politics moves back in favor of climate efforts.  The need is clear: develop a response that can recuperate the lost time effectively and energetically. It can be done.

 

Finally, there is of course reason for optimism, it is no joke that sustainable energy technologies are competitive energy options in most of the world. Battery technologies are improving very fast and many countries are implementing policies to lead the way forward in these industries. We are likely entering an era of decentralized and low-cost sustainable energy. All the more reason to inform the public about the huge social costs of not taking climate change policy seriously, and about the likely mistake of remaining attached to visions of the past.  

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