Is the ecological challenge a political challenge?

In the last weeks, yet another series of ‘natural’ catastrophes struck in different parts of the world: there was Hurricane Florence, an earthquake and a tsunami in Indonesia, and now, flash floods on the island of Mallorca and in the South of France. Vast areas have been devastated, thousands of people were wounded, and many lost their lives. At the same time,   efforts related to environmental protection – specifically those intended to slow down climate change – seem to be, if not stalled, then surely diminishing. In a couple of European countries,   entreaties to preserve jobs in coal production are finding more support than calls to scale down the coal business rather soon. And this is occurring  at a moment when both the evidence (see above) and also the scientific forecasts indicate that not much time is left before we may reach a tipping point after which living on the earth will be much more precarious, and hundreds of millions of people will be endangered.

So what can be done? How can we shift the balance of interests – and move away from short-term support for industry and union interests in coal, oil and gas production and toward a set of policies that will slow down climate change at a faster rate than is happening right now?

-Klaus Segbers

  1. Hildegard Müller 3 weeks ago

    Unfortunately, Europe is currently in crisis, as is international intergovernmental relations. However, I believe that we still need a strong Europe and an ambitious common European energy policy. A strong and integrated Europe is the right framework for climate protection!
    Moreover, it is an illusion to meet the challenges with individual solutions. What we need are digital and intelligent technologies that reconcile energy production and consumption. Since only about 40% of greenhouse gas emissions are caused by electricity generation, decarbonisation of the heating and transport sector is essential. This requires cross-industry solutions. With regard to the transport sector, three things are necessary:
    1. Efficient and sustainable Smart Grids
    2. comprehensive and efficient Smart Charging infrastructure in combination with Smart Mobility Services
    3. fair taxation of electricity in comparison with other fuels
    In short, measurable climate policy success can only be achieved through cooperation between all actors involved and under appropriate political conditions.

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  2. Justas Paleckis 3 weeks ago

    The ecological challenge, especially the climate change challenge is one of the most substantial threats for the future of mankind. 10-20 years ago, much more attention was paid to this problem than it is today. Unfortunately, local military conflicts, the wave of populism on both sides of the Atlantic do not allow reaching an agreement on the essential things. The shortsighted interests of preserving business and jobs deserve a condemnation. But they pale in comparison with President Trump's actions. The US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change is the spit on the face of the international community. This shameful move, perhaps, has led to the fact that climate change will reach the point of no return in the coming years. This means that our planet is going unstoppably into the global ecological catastrophe. The United Nations, unable to respond adequately to the steps taken by the US administration, once more has shown its disability. But European Union response was also too mild.

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  3. Stephanie von Kanel 3 weeks ago

    It is absolutely a political challenge, and yes, we can shift industry in the right direction. However, if the past shows us anything is that often-large sectors of society, politics, and industry have been on the wrong side of history. It seems before any great societal, economic or political change, there is hostility and denial.
    While it is clear our ways of life and industry must change, this need for global system transformation must first be distinctly acknowledged; otherwise, the issue will remain clouded in uncertainty, and meaningful change will be slow-coming. In politicizing anthropogenic climate change, world leaders show a complete reluctance in making necessary decisions.
    The systemic change required to transition to cleaner technologies is understood as a threat to global economic vitality; this could not be further from the truth. Though this period of transition would perhaps experience degrees of instability, the reality is exchanging our current and unsustainable systems for new technologies would create whole new economies, import-export relationships, and job markets. The task is unprecedented in humanities history; yet despite the complexity of transitioning to more sustainable systems, the outcome of sticking to the status-quo will be far more complex and damaging. While civil society to has a role to play herein, meaningful change will be difficult without clear top-down efforts from politicians and the heads of global industries.

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  4. Mina Sumaadii 3 weeks ago

    Indeed, this is a political challenge. Probably the main strategy would be to make competitors in green energy stronger so that they push out old industries. The political support should be shifted towards the renewable energy and recycling sectors. Especially towards their research and development. Since replacing old industries is moving too slowly, technologies that would help capture carbon in the air and manage solar radiation might give us some time.
    Another point would be to challenge climate change deniers. They should start paying for their actions and words. At least there should be a punishment imposed on them. If they can not be handled legally then maybe socially there should be some action against them. Though finally addressing transparency in campaign financing and lobbying might help decrease their numbers.

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  5. Friederike Kies 3 weeks ago

    Recently the world has been facing several striking natural disasters. Thereby the question arises: Is the ecological challenge a political challenge? I argue if the ecological challenge is not yet a political challenge it will certainly be one in the nearby future.
    Internationally we can observe several cases of individuals, companies and political leaders preferring short-term benefits over long-term destruction of public goods as for example the environment.
    Political leaders are withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, people in large parts of the world have to wear masks in the streets in order to be able to breathe in their polluted environment, individuals are denying climate warming despite scientific proof of the opposite...these are very worrisome trends. If these trends continue as they are, I believe it is only a question of time until wars will be fought over ecological challenges, as for example water or food scarcity. It is time that appropriate action is taken on all levels of society: Schools should implement ecological challenges in their school curricula, NGOs and civilians should pressure politicians and companies to act accordingly and politicians should work nationally and internationally on policies to protect the environment.

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  6. Lwin Cho Latt 3 weeks ago

    Changing political landscape and facing financial crisis in the western countries, the current climate change has alarmed all stakeholders to be aware of its serious threat in their development cooperation efforts. Especially, Europe as an active global political leader on climate change has to deal with all, including traditional donors and international agencies, in the global climate change context. It is very important of policies integration on climate change and development cooperation. Without any political commitment and national target in economic growth and climate change, it can simply challenge the ecological system. A global consensus on climate change can be built when the states have a few interests in their national economic power and the peoples change their political beliefs, but uncertain programmes and policies in the climate change coordination will exist in the following years.

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