The shift from fossil fuel infrastructures to non-carbon must be fair and should include workers’ rights, says Janet Redman of the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington D.C. Therefore we needed a progressive carbon tax and regulations. These measures should entice wealthy people to reduce their carbon footprint while at the same time give space for the poor to develop. But technical fixes are limited, says Alice Bows-Larkin. We also have to reduce our demand side, the consumption of energy. Small scale farming and regional economies could play an important role in this. In Germany the trade agreement TTIP should be stopped, the auto industry shrunk and coal industry fased out in the next decade, says climate activist Tadzio Mueller. This will also need actions of civil disobedience.
David Goessmann: Many key issues are not on the agenda of the UN talks: How can a profound transformation of our infrastructure, of our production and consumption patterns be achieved? Which national emission targets and which type of regulation do we need for this? Which role do agriculture, transport systems and energy production play? To what extent do we need a fundamental reorientation of our economy and its ends?
Janet Redman: The energy sector is one important piece of the equation but of course our economy reaches many, many sectors beyond just energy. We need to look at industrial production; we need to look at agricultural system. You pointed out transportation, that's an important one. I think there are kinda two pieces, that you're probably talking about. One of course is our domestic public transportation: How do we move people and goods around in our own countries? There is an incredible amount of research and efforts going on that say: Yep, public transportation will help us incredibly; it's good for our communities, because it provides access to mobility that some folks don't have. But also it's a new way of invigorating the labor sector. And that's an important piece of that just transition. It's not just the technologies; it's not just the economic sectors. But it's really understanding what does that mean for workers, whose jobs will have to change. Those jobs may disappear completely if it's in the fossil fuel sector – as we're already seeing in the US, and in other parts of the world. But we also have to think about those kind of jobs in shipping, in aviation, that will have to transform, that will need whole different skill sets in wholly different ways of working. So it's important that those particular workers are brought along the new system. That's something we've got a lot of lessons learned in the United States, at least in our hemisphere with NAFTA. And knowing that those kinds of transitions didn't work particularly well, because we said: Ah, you're basically going to lose your job to someone else in another country. In transition they will train you. But if you train someone for a job that doesn't exist, that doesn't really work. So part of what this means is incredible amounts of investment in public infrastructure, in the kind of jobs where jobs are ready before you transition people out of their old jobs. So it's a process of moving focus around.
Alice Bows-Larkin: I think if you only focus on the technology it looks like it will be unfeasible. Particularly because it takes a long time to roll out low-carbon infrastructure and it could take many decades to get enough renewable technologies in the energy system. And also we tend to focus a lot on electricity and how quickly we can change our electricity system but a lot of our CO2 emissions are associated with heat and also transport – very difficult. You would have to perhaps electrify the heat networks, in terms of transport electric vehicles are starting to be talked about much more and starting to make inroads, but we need the entire fleet to be decarbonized and then we also have difficult sectors like aviation and shipping. So all of this takes a long time but that doesn’t mean is there is nothing else, what it means is that we also have to you look at the full picture which includes the demand-side – levels of energy consumption, what we consume in terms of material resources, energy and water and so on and so forth. And if you look at that demand side, it’s not to say that demand-side is easy to tackle, but there are lots of opportunities that we haven’t explored in any way in as much detail as we’ve explored on the supply side. So it could be through energy efficiency standards and regulations on consumer goods to make them much more efficient but also we need to think about how much we are using of these things; how we’re using these things; is it reasonable for academics for example to be now flying to several conferences in a year rather than just one conference a year which was much more typical when I first started in academia. So there are lots of things in our lifestyle that we do differently, that I think we need to focus on.
Kevin Anderson: What we're saying is that not all of our society should have to have de-growth. We're not saying that all of the globe should have de-growth. Alas and I, I think, we both agree that poorer parts of the world should see economic growth in the short to medium term. And that will mean that their carbon dioxide emission will rise, as they will be using a lot of fossil fuels as well as hopefully more and more renewables. But that is good for their quality of life. But in the wealthy parts of the world, and the wealthier people in the wealthy parts of the world, we would have to see, in any reasonable way of framing it, significant levels of de-growth. Now that does not mean that everyone in our society – the poorer people in our own societies already struggle, and do not use a lot of energy, and do not have huge carbon footprints. For those people again I'm happy for them-- I would be pleased for them to emit more carbon dioxide. Because that means they're using more energy and having a better quality of life. But for the sorts of people who are here at COP, for the top 10% responsible for the majority of emissions, it will mean profound changes. We personally we have to experience de-growth. There are certainly things that make life richer by having lower carbon lifestyles. But we shouldn't overplay that. It will not be easy. And I think we often exaggerate how easy it will be to make those transitions. It is not. But the more of us do it, the easier it actually becomes. So I think there is real scope for improving things if we collectively start to deliver these sorts of outcomes. If Alas is doing this, and I'm doing this, and other colleagues are doing it, it makes it easier. So the more people move to a low-carbon lifestyle, the easier it becomes for everyone. And in fact we create a new "normal". I think we're already seeing that in academia. We know lots of colleagues now who make a real effort to reduce how often they fly; they try to avoid taxis. And that is really positive for us, because it makes it easier for us to do it as well. This collective momentum – we mustn't underestimate how important that is. We need to make low-carbon the new normal. And then it will become much easier.
Mariama WilliamsThe climate is not going to be saved simply by the money. We have to change our lifestyle. We have to change our production pattern. And there are vested interests in each of our economies – the oil industry, the various sectors, cement production industry – that will lose money. Which is why the area of just transition, that we also have to make sure that workers are protected, and so forth. So that many (?) it's not easy. But if the will is there to do it, it can be done.
Janet Redman: I think there are lots of ways that a carbon tax could be interesting. You just have to put some pieces in the place to make sure it's not regressive on low income folks and it's not regressive on states again that are dependent on them, meeting their basic needs of their communities through shipping and aviation. I think that's true for all kinds of tax policy and carbon tax policy across the border, no matter what country you're talking about. We're experiencing that in the United States right now. Our folks are saying: Wow, climate tax is probably better than, say, Cap and Trade. I think the same is true in the shipping and aviation sector. We would rather not see a carbon trading mechanism. But any kind of mechanism has to really understand that this is an equity issue. That if it's going to make it more expensive to move goods to countries that are dependent on those sectors, to receive those goods and to feed and clothe their population; there has to be these kind of exceptions built in to make that possible.
I think what in some way gets lost when we talk about carbon pricing mechanism, is that there is another way. There is regulation. And this is a really interesting conversation that happens between the US and Germany, when we look at acid rain, decades ago. Germany put in place stronger regulation than the US did. We put in place basically a cap and trade system. You all got to acid rain reductions faster and more cheaply than we did in the US. Yet the entire global cap and trade regime on carbon is based on our system. That really makes us ask the question: Why aren’t we going for regulation first and carbon pricing as a support for that. Again I think the answer is the fossil fuel industry is one of the strongest lobbies on the planet today. So I think when we look at shipping and aviation, we have to talk about the places where those are regulated, talk about international fora where those are regulated and make sure that kind of regulation is happening that we can bring into this space.
Pablo Solón: There are already alternatives on the ground. Peasants are cooling the planet for example through local production and promoting local consumption of food. We have to promote this local alternative. Alternatives in relation to transport; in relation to energy. For example in my country, I say: Hey, my government cannot have only a good speech – they have to practice. No? Because I think this is not the time of big speeches. This is the time of act. The problem that we face in the case of Bolivia is that we are going to move towards big hydropower dams, instead of moving to solar energy. We are a country that has one of the highest solar radiations in the world. We should be promoting solar energy like in Germany. We have three times more solar radiation than Germany. But we don't even have 5 MW of solar energy. So we have to do that. But if the government doesn't do it, then we have to do it at community love, in families, in municipalities. We have to build from the ground.
Lyda Fernanda Forero: We just saw the assembly from Via Campesina and they were saying: peasant agriculture and peasants cool the planet. So we don't need an instrument. What we need is to give more space for peasant agriculture guaranteeing food sovereignty. And that's a way of addressing the real causes. Some organizations, trade unions, communities are addressing the issue of energy democracy and saying: We need renewable energy, but that needs to be produced at small scale. And with community management not corporatized at all. Those are the solutions.
Tadzio Müller: As far as trade policy is concerned, the TTIP agreement must be prevented. Because if TTIP gets adopted the climate will be harmed even more. Just to one example: global trade flows will increase dramatically. If TTIP becomes reality, the climate will be harmed more than it can be protected in climate negotiations. Another area is energy policy: We finally need a date, a very close date for a phase-out of coal and lignite. Sometime between 2020 and 2030. This coal phase-out must of course be accompanied by fair social welfare measures. We need a just transition in the lignite mining areas.
The German Government actually restricted the development of renewables with the Renewable Energy Act Amendment in 2013/2014 and has made "energy democracy", that is the energy transition organized by citizens, more difficult. That has to change, of course. In transport and energy policies we should opt out of the model of promoting our car manufacturers as national champions that will conquer global markets. So we need energy democracy, a real energy revolution, a stop to TTIP and an end to the socially destructive export model.
Pablo Solón: If governments and corporations are not going to solve this critical issue, where the future of humanity is at stake, then social organizations, civil society, young people, women, workers, peasants, indigenous people, have to be the ones that address this issue. And I believe in this more then ever after what I've seen here in COP21 in Paris. Because what happened here, what we need to do, is to begin to force corporations and governments to cut emissions in our own countries. And that will only be done through social pressure, through social organizations mobilization. Like what happened in Germany with "Ende Gelände". An action from 1500 activists, that manages to close for one day one of the biggest mines in Germany. Or what has happened in the US, where you have civil disobedience for many years until they force the government of the US to say: Ok, the Keystone XL pipeline will not go on and we're not going to be exporting tar sands, like it was the original project. First we have to do these kinds of actions more and more. I hope there will be more of this around the world. That is one of the alternatives that we have.
Tadzio Müller: Therefore the very successful campaign “Ende Gelände” in Germany will be continued. Last year the campaign managed to block a huge lignite mine near the Rhine for one day in a civil disobedience action with 1500 people participating. We plan to do similar actions in 2016, probably in May in the East German mining regions. Moreover we focus on networking in order to connect actions of civil disobedience against fossil fuels around the globe. Because we know: Fossil fuels have to stay in the soil. This is what the climate justice movement will mobilize for in the next years
David Goessmann: This was Kontext TV. Thanks for listening and watching, David Goessmann and Fabian Scheidler.