A turning point in climate protection?
Another summer of record temperatures, devastating forest fires, floods: in 2019 focus on the climate once again increased. The Fridays for Future protests spread across the globe. The new EU Commission is making climate protection a top priority. Commentators discuss whether the direction has really changed.
The young have roused us from our slumber
2019 was the year in which climate protection became an issue for everyone, Deutschlandfunk points out:
“At last the debate has arrived where it belongs: in the living room, at the regulars' table in the pub, in the local club. Worlds and generations collide here. On the one side our lifestyle - cherished habits, conveniences, rampant consumption - on the other a predominantly young generation fighting for its future. ... Greta Thunberg was not alone in triggering this change of consciousness, but she was a major contributor - and some of the reactions are correspondingly harsh. The fact that a 16-year-old, despite all her enthusiasm, also arouses pathetic malice in her critics shows how urgent her cause is. ... We urgently need the Greta Thunbergs of this world.”
Onwards and upwards now
The fact that we are on the brink of a revolution in climate protection is not least thanks to the EU, writes Giovanni Pitruzzella, ex-president of the Italian competition authority Antitrust, in Corriere della Sera:
“Firstly, there is a change in the economic paradigm that makes it possible to reconcile economic growth with the preservation of the planet. ... Secondly the EU Commission intends to use all the means at its disposal to achieve this: Setting new rules, promoting innovation and research, subsidies and taxation, transforming the [European Investment Bank] EIB into a 'climate bank', reorganising the European funds to provide money for the new strategy and compensate regions and social groups put at a disadvantage by climate change.”
Things are getting worse, not better
The Financial Times is not at all optimistic:
“Emissions from burning fossil fuels have been growing 0.9 per cent a year on average since 2010 and there are many signs of another rise in 2020. If global GDP grows as forecast we are likely to see rising use of energy, which still mostly comes from fossil fuels. Some of the fastest growing economies will again be big users of coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel, not least China. It emits more CO2 than the US and EU combined, and Beijing’s efforts to stimulate the economy and boost energy security could easily bolster coal use.”
A bad conscience makes us passive
Even if they're right, moralising demands that we change our lifestyle in these times of climate crisis could have the opposite effect, warns Berlingske:
“One thing could become even more dangerous: if we blame ourselves for global warming. Not because our actions are leaving God's green world untouched. ... But because heaping blame on ourselves can all too easily lead to the suppression of reality and thus to passivity - if that isn't already the case.”