COP25 in Madrid: how can a rethink succeed?

"Time for Action" is the motto of the UN climate summit in Madrid. Europe's press looks at the challenges that need to be tackled according to this slogan.

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Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Don't vilify technology

What has Greta Thunberg taught us? asks columnist Massimo Sideri in Corriere della Sera:

“The 21-day journey contains the technological, economic and social equation with which the world's 196 countries will be confronted at the COP25 conference and which humanity needs to solve fast: It took Greta 20 days to cross the Atlantic in a catamaran, one day to travel from Lisbon to Madrid by train and a few minutes for the last few miles to the Madrid climate conference in an electric car. ... But the likelihood of people needing 20 days to cross the Atlantic once more is practically zero. ... What we can do and must do is to solve the Greta equation by developing green technologies like e-cars and avoid allowing the protest to degenerate into a useless and even damaging anti-technology movement.”

El País (ES) /

The real big issue

All the talk about Greta Thunberg's media presence is diverting attention from the real problems, writer Almudena Grandes comments annoyed in El País:

“It's not about the leadership role of a girl who is not prepared for such a burden. It's about the fact that while we're talking about Greta no one is talking about Jair Bolsonaro, the arsonist in the Amazon rainforests, or Donald Trump, who keeps making jokes about how cold it is in these times of global warming, or Xi Jinping, the Chinese president who wants to continue polluting by buying emission rights from poor countries. ... In this situation, when people talk about Greta and criticise her appearance, her choice of words, her gestures, it's nothing but a technique aimed at deactivating her and protecting the true enemies not just of her cause, but of humanity as a whole.”

Sydsvenskan (SE) /

Knowledge, not shame, changes behavior

Sydsvenskan has a piece of good news from the Climate Summit:

“According to a study carried out by Nina Wormbs, a lecturer in the history of technology, together with rhetoric researcher Maria Wolrath Söderberg, shame does not make people adopt more climate-friendly behaviour. Nine hundred people who have stopped travelling by air in a bid to reduce CO2 emissions were asked about their reasons. Shame is not a prominent argument, they said. Greater awareness about climate change and insights into the consequences for future generations were mentioned more frequently. This is good news for politicians attending the COP25 UN Climate Summit in Madrid. They won't have to convince voters to wear the sackcloth and ashes. Facts about the greenhouse effect and how it can be slowed down can make a big contribution to an effective climate policy.”

Die Presse (AT) /

CO2-neutral economy means good business

Die Presse explains why climate change should be seen as an economic opportunity:

“While digitalisation has led Silicon Valley's tech companies to replace industrial heavyweights, the CO2-neutral economy will bring new players to the table and push companies that seemed indestructible into the abyss. US electric car pioneer Tesla may be hyped and its boss Elon Musk touted as a frontier crosser - the company, which was only founded in 2003, is now the technological benchmark for all global car manufacturers. It's no coincidence that China is pushing many 'green' technologies with its 2025 strategy. Europe and above all Austria are still well in the running, but must take care not to fall behind. And for global climate protection this competition is perhaps the best opportunity.”

Jornal de Notícias (PT) /

If the climate were a bank

A greener economy alone won't be enough to stop climate change, Mariana Mortágua, a member of the left-wing Bloco de Esquerda, counters in Jornal de Notícias:

“Some say that the current economic system is capable of solving the problem. Proponents of 'green capitalism' are banking on the renewable energy and electric car sectors and individual changes in behaviour. ... As long as all aspects of our society are subject to the protection of finances and large companies, their profits and a gratifying budget surplus, there will be no change. The climate must take priority, not the protection of banks: if the climate were a bank, it would have been bailed out long ago.”

Ria Nowosti (RU) /

Hard times for meat eaters and car lovers

The upcoming climate-related economic reforms in Western countries are nothing short of a nightmare scenario, Ria Novosti counters:

“In the new 'green economy' currently being constructed in Europe there's no more place for nuclear or oil workers. Car mechanics and farmers will have a hard time. There's practically no room left for traditional values - or meat eaters. In such a pseudo-ecological economy, pride of place will go to illegal migrants, those who receive social benefits, and campaigners for the rights of all kinds of minorities. ... If things go on like this, a huge flood of tourists will make their way to Russia (and China too, but we're closer): only here can they still eat good old meat and drive around in roaring, petrol-fuelled sports cars.”

La Stampa (IT) /

More progress without Trump

Columnist Gianni Riotta writes in La Stampa that the summit stands a better chance of success precisely because US President Donald Trump won't be attending:

“India and China are suffering the dramatic consequences of climate change, including floods, droughts, and epidemics. ... For that reason the Chinese Special Envoy on Climate Change, the influential Xie Zhenhua, has been tasked by President Xi Jinping to take over the role of saviour of the planet from the Americans. Now that Trump is out of the equation, Europe can compete with Beijing for this moral title in the name of the democratic states. At the Cop 25, it can raise its profile as a partner in good faith and as an innovative leader in the transition to greener energy, industry and work.”