IPCC warns of hunger and drought

The IPCC is warning in its new report about food scarcity caused by global warming. It calls for a total overhaul of land use, particularly in agriculture and forestry. The alarming report prompts commentators to think about how Europe can overcome obstacles in the fight against climate change.

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Jyllands-Posten (DK) /

Use the carrot, not the stick

Reprimands alone won't persuade anyone to do more to protect the climate, Jyllands-Posten writes:

“It's crucial that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change should become much more pedagogical in its communication. Not just so that its key messages reach a wider audience, but also because in many countries the fight against climate change clashes with political and economic interests. ... No doubt most people would cut their meat consumption if they were convinced by factual arguments. ... For that reason it would be a good idea for the EU to exempt fruit and vegetables from VAT. That would help reduce the social imbalances which the fight against climate change has already created. Governments should use the carrot rather than the stick - literally.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

You are what you eat

The IPCC's report is set to change the global community's image of itself, writes NRC Handelsblad:

“Above all the switch to a plant-based diet is necessary in view of the disastrous impact meat production has on the environment due to its disproportionate consumption of land and water. ... Not only must industry do its part, agriculture must also pull its weight: organic farming is the answer. And this issue cannot be decoupled from consumers. Those who eat and drink, that is. ... With its emphasis on environmental measures in food production the IPCC is simply turning people's image of themselves on its head. You are what you eat, as the saying goes.”

Irish Examiner (IE) /

EU cannot save the planet

If Europe reduces its CO2 emissions it will do almost nothing for the planet, comments the Irish Examiner:

“Member states' combined share of global CO2 emissions has declined from 99 percent two centuries ago to less than 10 percent today (in annual, not cumulative terms). And this figure could fall to 5 percent by 2030 if the EU meets von der Leyen's emissions target by that date. While the EU will undertake the painful task of cutting its annual emissions by 1.5 billion tonnes, in 2030 the rest of the world will likely have increased them by 8.5 billion tonnes. Average global temperatures will, therefore, continue to rise, possibly by 3C or more by 2100. Whatever Europe does will not save the planet.”

Der Tagesspiegel (DE) /

Not powerless at all

Of course Europe can do something, counters Tagesspiegel:

“This continent, or to be more precise, the European union, has a population of 450 million people who have the power as users and consumers to change dangerous trends not only in their own territory but also elsewhere. If the Brazilian President Jair Bolsanaro is cutting down tropical rainforests to grow cheap soya to sell to European cattle farmers, the EU must stop these purchases. The European Union must also change its food production, which is based solely on cheapness and quantity. ... The IPCC's warnings are directed at the whole world. But it does not say that Europe is powerless. No, Europe, the EU, Germany can do something. We must do something.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Lack of action creates sense of helplessness

Why is nothing happening despite all the warnings? asks the Tages-Anzeiger:

“Yesterday the IPCC presented an image of a planet that is being mindlessly exploited by humans for food production. The consequences are barren soil, destroyed forests, dried-up moors - and greenhouse gas emissions which are additionally heating up the Earth's surface and further weakening land-based ecosystems. ... The agricultural and forestry industry need a complete overhaul - ecological farming, sustainable global trade, lower meat consumption. The UN's World Agricultural Report and the World Bank called for this in 2008. At the time all parties worked together: scientists, consumers, producers, farmers and the industry. And now, ten years later, the IPCC is again telling the world it must work together. This leaves one feeling helpless.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Nationalism is the problem

If we want to prevent a climate catastrophe we first need to overcome national egotism, explains the former chairman of the Partito Democratico, Walter Veltroni, in Corriere della Sera:

“Scientists, astronauts and meterologists point to the number one danger. But we are blithely heading straight for it like Captain Smith and the Titanic. Because our public life is dominated by a thousand fears, but not by the biggest fear. Perhaps because this fear requires a non-nationalist, non-sovereign response. The world can only be saved if the nations of the earth agree to limit the emissions into the atmosphere.”

L'Opinion (FR) /

Don't overplay the doom and gloom

The warnings about climate change, dwindling resources and overpopulation are depressing people, warns entrepreneur Florian Freyssenet in L'Opinion:

“All these discourses have one thing in common: they place the longevity of the planet over that of humanity. Global warming and overpopulation are problems that are poorly understood, and the excessive consumption of resources is unequally distributed across the globe. Yet they are undeniable and affect us all. Under the pretext of wanting to save humanity from a problem we don't fully understand (unlike the hole in the ozone layer, which was scientifically clarified), we are spreading endless anti-human theories which will plunge a section of the younger population in the West into depression and spread irreversible generational pessimism.”