21.12.2015

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The Great Transformation: How Catastrophic Cimate Change Can Still Be Prevented

In order to prevent catastrophic climate change, a profound transformation of our societies is needed, in production as well as in consumption. A progressive carbon tax, for example, could restrict excessive air traffic and be more effective than carbon trade in many other areas. A fast phase-out of lignite and cloal mining is necessary. And in trade policies, TTIP, TPP and other "free trade agreements" must be stopped, in order to avoid a further increase in destructive freight traffic, according to Tadzio Mueller from the "Rosa Luxemburg Foundation". In the traffic sector, car production must be curbed, which is particularly an issue for the "export champion" Germany. In agriculture a shift from industrial agribusiness to an organic peasant's production would contribute significantly to cool the planet.

Gäste: 
Alice Bows-Larkin, Climate Scientist "Tyndall Centre"
Kevin Anderson, Climate Scientist, Deputy Director "Tyndall Centre"
Janet Redman, "Institute for Policy Studies"
Pablo Solón, Former Chief Climate Negotiator, Bolivia
Tadzio Müller, Climate Activist, "Rosa Luxemburg Foundation"
Themba Austin Chauke, "La Via Campesina"
Lyda Fernanda Forero, "Transnational Institute"
 
Transkript: 

Fabian Scheidler: What can be done to avoid catastrophic climate change – beyond the UN negotiations? What are social movements from the global South and North are fighting for? Which changes do our societies need? How can we exit the era of fossil oil, coal and gas as fast as needed? We talked to activists and scientists about real solutions.

Alice Bows-Larkin: I think if you only look at 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 can 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 have 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: A progressive carbon tax that may apply to fuel. You can imagine when you buy a flight, you by your first flight – you pay the flight fare, you by your second flight – you pay twice the flight fare. The third flight – you pay six times the flights fare. And that’s starts to put an incentive for people who are frequent flyers to dramatically change their behavior whereas it still allows people who fly once a year with their families to somewhere else in the world to go on holiday that allows them maybe to carry on with that sort of behavior. So I think governments have to be very careful about how they apply these tools, they may be much more sophisticated. But I think if you build on those examples of bottom-up, there are things that clever sophisticated governments could do that could certainly incentivize those of us that are high emitters to significantly reduce our emissions. And the other great thing about that is, that people like us, the people who are drivers of innovation, we are the early adopters of new technologies and even new behaviors as well in some respects, so if people like us are forced to change our activities our behaviors our technologies, then we will try to drive low carbon activities and that helps with innovation that helps therefore percolating down to the system that new technologies will come along that will help solve the problems to some degree. But ultimately at the end of the day it‘s down to us changing our activities and our lifestyle as well as these new technologies.

Janet Redman: 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 an interesting conversation that happens between the US and Germany, when we look at acid rain decades ago. Germany put in place stronger regulations 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 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 the strongest lobby one of the strongest lobbies on the planet today. So I think when we look at shipping and aviation, talk about the places where those are regulated, talk about international fora where those are regulated and make sure that kind of regulations is happening that we can bring into this space.

Pablo Solón: We need to build our own concrete alternatives. That is the challenge that we have if we want to address the issue so I think that initiatives like the one we had before and others that now are happening here – all of them have one consensus. The answer relies on what we can do in our own communities, countries, regions. And we have to do it because if we don’t do it, government and corporations are not going to do it.

Themba Austin Chauke: The demand of La Via Campesina is that the governments and everyone who is involved in food production should just give the chance to peasants to produce food to so that the system can cool the planet. All the systems have failed because they use lots of fossil fuels which is dangerous to the planet – not just the planet, also to the soil. It’s dangerous to the people and it’s not healthy. It’s unhealthy industrial production. We believe that a peasant system is the healthy away and it can feed the planet.

Tadzio Mueller: 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 in a way that we will never again be able to protect the climate. 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. We need a ... The German Government actually restricted the development of renewables with the Renewable Energy Act Amendment in 2013/2014 and has made the "energy democracy", that is the energy transition organized by citizens more difficult. That would have to change, of course. In transport and energy policy we should opt out from the model of promoting our car production to higher levels and boost our car manufacturers as national champions that will conquer the global automotive markets". This would be actual climate policy. So we need energy democracy, a real energy revolution, a stop to TTIP and an end to the socially destructive export model.

Lyda Fernanda Forero: The values of the system which are based on the possession of things, on increasing, consuming even more and more and trying to have more, be better, instead of living well. Those values of the civilization are the core problem. And if we manage to change them, we can really think about a system change.

Juliette Rousseau: What gives me hope is when people get together and start disobeying in an organized and strategical manner and believe strong enough in the fact that things could be otherwise, that the world could look like something different, to actually take risks. I’m saying that in a context where in France we are definitely not slowly, rapidly shifting to a very authoritarian state, so this has even more value to me right now because people who get on the streets to defend other values, another the vision of the world are taking higher and higher risks. So that’s really what gives me hope is that some of us actually are the seeds of another world, I suppose.