Sunday, July 5, 2015

How to make the Dutch Urgenda Climate case a global success?

Twitter: @Oosterenvan

We know our energy production and consumption are not sustainable and we want to change it. How can we do this? Three things are needed to start with :

Logos : a clear, logical and rational reason to change
We have this. If we continue to burn as much fossil fuel as we currently do, the atmosphere will heat over 2°C. This would make life on earth literally impossible for our children’s children, which is a situation we rationally want to avoid. The scientific backbone of this logos can be found in this document written by 4000 scientists:

Ethos: a sense of what’s wrong and right and about what has to be done
We have this. One example: 900 Dutch people found it wrong that their State did not contribute its share of measures to avoid global warming over 2°C. They felt the need to take responsibility and took action with the help of NGO Urgenda (see this link). The judge proved them right, and now other climate cases are being started in other countries.

Pathos: the emotional power behind the message that sparks action
We have this. The 900 Dutch citizens and their NGO platform Urgenda proved it: they’re sick of watching our living environment and future being destroyed. Many other citizens all over the world feel the same way. They prove this every day in the social media by massively expressing their wish to stop polluting energy production and switch to clean energy. Besides the “pockets” of the oil and coal industry, most people strongly desire this change. Search on twitter for “#COP21” and you'll see what people want the world to decide during the upcoming climate conference in Paris: move to Plan B because we have no planet B!

But why do we still not have a global agreement that commits States to change (meaning: curbing carbon emissions)? The answer is that we lack one more thing:

Solidarność: Polish for “solidarity”
We don’t have that enough on a global scale yet. But we do have solidarność here and there. Already 900 Dutch citizens managed to commit their own State to reduce their carbon emissions by at least 25% before 2020 instead of by the 17% originally planned. Of course this small difference of 8% less emissions only for the Netherlands is not going to stop climate change. But this small difference could become big in terms of solidarność: in fact other citizens already started similar climate cases. Not because the Urgenda case gave them more logos, ethos or pathos but because it connected them to other citizens with the same logos, ethos and pathos. The Urgenda case shows that no matter how strong we feel about change, change will only come if we share this conviction and act upon it with “todos”, meaning with everyone.

Later this year, UNESCO’s General Conference might declare 2016 the International Year of Global Understanding (see link). The goal of this United Nations initiative is to address “the ways we live in an increasingly globalized world and the transformation of nature from the perspective of global sustainability (...) for the sake of future generations”. If this initiative goes through, it could provide a formidable platform for the Urgenda case to warm up the global solidarność we need to avoid global warming.

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