Photo: National Renewable Energy Lab CC BY-NC-ND
Editorial: Just doing a little bit is not enough
“Limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.” This is the main message of the IPCC report released on 8 October. They also conclude “that we are already seeing the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes”.
For anyone who has followed the statements of the IPCC over recent decades this came as no surprise. With every new publication the message of certainty and urgency has become clearer.
But when you work with climate issues every day your mind eventually gets a bit numb and you have to stop and reflect over what the words actually mean. I repeat to myself “unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”. This means that all governments should right now put everything else aside and focus on one major task for the next decade – to make our world fossil-free.
We don’t have the time for quarrels about immigration laws, tax levels, healthcare systems and trade agreements until we have agreed on a serious plan for a new fossil-free economy.
Unfortunately, we don’t see European leaders acting as if there is an emergency. New coal power plants are still being planned and built in Europe (see p. 12). The proposed common agricultural policy (CAP) allows member states to continue with business as usual (see front page). There is still no effective regulation to reduce emissions from aviation and shipping (see p. 10).
It is however important to remember we haven’t reached 1.5°C of warming yet. The amount of greenhouse gases needed to cause that kind of warming have not been released yet. The message from the IPCC is that – there is still hope. But not that kind of comfortable hope, where we can sit back in the office chair and relax in the knowledge of a happy ending. The only hope we can put our trust in is the hope of our own actions.
Every one of us has a responsibility to free ourselves from numbness and passivity. Just doing a little bit is not enough anymore.
In the last week of October, the “Ende-Gelände” movement in Germany will occupy lignite mines in Rhine area. Right now, this seems to be the only reasonable thing to do. Occupy every coal mine, every oil rig and every other fossil fuel extraction unit there is and give a clear message: leave it in ground.
If you cannot stand in front of the excavators, act on whatever you have power over. Be the uncomfortable person at the next Monday morning work meeting, at the kitchen table and at the local soccer club, who pushes the fossil-free transition as far as you can. Every institution, company, organisation and home needs to become fossil-free within the next decade. Put solar panels on the roof, demand fossil-free pension funds and take the train on your next vacation. The politicians must add their weight, but at the moment they are not prepared to lead.
We need to see great deeds from the masses to accomplish unprecedented system change!
Ende Gelände will take place on 25-29 October: https://www.ende-gelaende.org