Why the Madrid Climate Change Conference must produce an agenda of change

Enrique Dans
Dec 1 · 3 min read

The eyes of the world will be on Madrid from December 2 for eleven days, as the Spanish capital hosts the UN Climate Change Conference, an event that may provide one of the last opportunities to assess our priorities as a species and as inhabitants of a planet that within a few decades, may no longer be able to sustain human life.

We have now reached the tipping point, the moment when we begin to see what happens when methane is released from ecosystems such as the polar ice or tundra, unleashing increasingly frequent and violent weather phenomena, from soaring temperature increases to progressive flooding of coastal areas. As the European Union has now finally accepted, this is an EMERGENCY. What do we do in an emergency? Emergencies are not the time for half-measures or symbolic actions: they are the time for radical policies, for major changes, regardless of whether they make life a little less comfortable or seem unfair. Nothing would be less fair than the end of human civilization.

This means that we have to act now, not in a few decades. We’re going to have to implement policies that will affect transportation, manufacturing, construction, agriculture, consumption, and many other things. Accelerating these measures is fundamental: any measure with a horizon beyond 2025 makes no sense, and is just about good intentions: our irresponsible leaders talk about banning internal combustion vehicles in 2040: this os simply not acceptable. Countries that allow coal-fired power stations to operate until 2050 should be boycotted, however big they are. A global emergency is a global emergency, and it needs urgent, radical measures, now. The time for so-called fair decarbonization is over: we have to decarbonize at all costs, whether fair or not, if we are to survive. We have no choice.

It still astonishes me that so many of us are still in denial and talk about measures that will take several decades to have any effect. Over the last century, we have become addicted to a cheap, dirty source of energy. We insist on the right to drive our cars, to pollute the environment with our manufacturing processes, and to keep on consuming things we don’t need. The reality is that we do not have that right and to insist that we do is to ignore what is happening to the world we live in.

As a result, we now face the starkest of choices: either we change our way of life, or our time on the planet is over. We have to stand up to the oil lobby, to the nihilists who say “what do I care, I’ll be dead anyway” or the denialists who spout mumbo jumbo about sunspots and climate cycles: this is an emergency, it’s time to act.

(En español, aquí)

Enrique Dans

On the effects of technology innovation on people, companies and society (writing in Spanish at enriquedans.com since 2003)

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