Why It Is A Bad Idea To Veto Common Climate Actions

Why It Is A Bad Idea To Veto Common Climate Actions

A few months ago, the European Commission issued a call for a climate-neutral Europe by 2050, but it was vetoed by four countries, one of which was Hungary. A Hungarian right-wing website argued that being environmentally-conscious should not be a privilege reserved for the left-wing parties. As the Earth is our home, we have to look after it, so I agree with this statement. Climate change is a common issue, its effects do not follow where a person belongs. It does not matter if you are communist or conservative, you become a victim as well because you might have to leave your home when it is no longer inhabitable.

Do we want that? Of course not!

This article functions as a response paper to a Hungarian article, which posits that left-wing parties do not give any solution to the problem of climate change and suggests that joining in any common goal initiatives is unproductive. Do not make any excuse for not ratifying climate goals, just because you need financial support to achieve them. Suggest some countermeasures instead, they are worth more and accept the fact that the European Union is not an ATM. Keep in mind, that you never build a house from the top. You should build it from the bottom.

Now, let’s go through the article “A Note on Right-Wing Green Politics” (1), which is in Hungarian. The article begins with a critique of the ideology. The idea is to think globally, act locally. However, it should not be a privilege to any particular political affiliation. We have to accept the fact that everything is part of the world. We have to commit ourselves to a better world. Nowadays, we have corporations who commit themselves to a good cause, so it may not be a privilege to anyone in particular. If you want to progress, you may have to enforce a couple of policies that might adversely affect others at times.

So why can’t Hungary follow the examples of Austria? Or Iceland? Or Japan?

Do not simply come up with the GDP or the size of the country (even so, Austria is smaller than Hungary for that matter). It is not about comparison. According to Warren Heaps (2010), every country must have different markets and compensation programs should reflect a balance between global corporate philosophy and local practice and culture.

Successful companies (like Levi’s) have already adopted this principle in pricing, selling, and so on. Therefore, big companies build factories in countries where labour is cheap. They want a big profit with limited costs. This is a cliché, everyone knows it. A common argument against Levi’s is that their jeans are very expensive. For sure they are (anywhere in the world, they cost 3 or 4 times more than an ordinary pair of jeans), but they have top-notch quality. Accordingly, purchasers can wear them for ten years or more. So what? If you are poor, you should not buy cheap things, because they will not be durable. So do not complain about the price. You get what you pay for, after all. That is why you should engage in some saving and do not be too extravagant.

The Hungarian article posits that building factories in countries where labour is cheap is not a good strategy. Why? Because it is easily communicable, it does not give a real solution, and debates become impossible because of the ideology. I agree with this because debates are part of politics. But can you ever admit your faults? It is not understandable to me why ideology is in focus here. It is rather your incapability of holding real debates.

I remember in 2006 when the current governing party, FIDESZ (Alliance of Young Democrats) lost the general elections against the Socialist Party. The governing Socialist prime minister crushed the other candidate in a debate (2). The other candidate said “I want to increase this” and “I want to decrease that”. But no definite goal was set in this debate in case he won the elections. The governing party had targets and results. If you want to be a good leader, you have to set a definite goal, and you have to set the measures for its success to be responsible for what you say. If you are a leader, you must know the country very well. The prime minister in 2006 could not set a proper goal to decrease public debt and address the dangers in our economy, but argued for “more resources for all”. If someone says this, he or she is lying at some point, especially after having had the opportunity to do so (between 1998 and 2002). At one point, he wanted to eradicate bureaucracy, then he said: “it might be necessary to set a Ministry for Budapest”. This is a contradiction.

This contradiction also appears in the current governmental structure, especially if we have a look at the number of secretaries and their assistants. The total number is 196. So, who is bureaucratic and who is more extravagant? Please, be consistent and honest when you are setting a goal. So arguing the lack of debates because of the ideology is not the right argument. You can convince the other half in a debate but show the basis and why your point will not fail, if you are elected.

Then, the Hungarian article says that Democrats in the US introduced the “Green New Deal” bill. Its policies included a minimum wage and basic rights. The article said Democrats belong to the left. Well, to be honest, with some background in Political Science, it is quite excessive to place Democrats to the left and Republicans to the right as several points, which are typical of the right, are still owned by the Democrats, and vice versa. Therefore, the left does not see points of certain policies as their privilege. Hence being Green on the outside does not mean they are Red on the inside.

Later on, the article takes a relative demagogue position: the left appears to be scientific while foreseeing an ecological disaster. So, let us clarify it: science never serves political parties. Authentic science looks for facts. Facts are sometimes cruel, they do not always serve your position for sure, still, you have to accept them.

Moving along, the article posits that Germany is slowly shutting down all its nuclear power plants, and the remainder will only use fossil fuels and renewable resources. Thus the price of energy became very high by the end of 2018, which was true. However, could you have a look at Ellen Thalman and Benjamin Wehrmann’s article in 2019 (3)? The German population support the idea of a transition to renewable energy because the costs are high enough to look for alternatives. It is important to recognise that wholesale energy prices have been dropping in recent years—the taxes and other surcharges are raising the bills. Still, these prices are not high enough for alternatives to viable yet.

The article of Thalman also asks one question. How frequent are power outages? Cheap energy may not mean a stable source of energy. If something is cheap, then it does not mean it is unreliable as well. If something is too cheap, it might be suspicious.

The Hungarian article goes further, saying joining international treaties, like the Paris Agreement of 2015-2016 (4), end up failing. The EU has ratified it on behalf of its members. The agreement has the main goal of carbon reduction by 20%, increasing the renewable energy share to 20% and increasing energy efficiency by 20%.

Referring back to my previous articles, the recuperating Portugal had made promising efforts to be energy efficient and consume just as much as required.

Other countries have shown their commitment to this agreement. The Netherlands made an ambitious program: by 2030, all-electric railways will be powered by the wind within the Dutch national rail lines. I am pretty sure that they will be able to do it, as they have been described as a success story in climate action in my previous articles. If a small country can do it, a slightly bigger country, like Austria or Hungary must be able to do their part as well.

Another example is Norway, a success story in almost all of the SDGs, which will ban selling diesel or petrol cars by 2025. Norway is not an EU-member, but see how committed they are to our environment! Oh yes, their prime minister is a woman. Where do we get from here? It is better to comply, otherwise, she will steer everything to crush you.

These latter countries have committed themselves. Let us do the same! We have clever and well-educated people! They are not a danger to our positions. If they want to follow an ambitious goal, let us follow them. They worked a lot to set baselines, they provided us with frameworks on how we should reach them. Let’s reward them by following them. It will not be harmful.

More recently, Hungary vetoed the EU Climate Agreement of 2050 (5), because of the fear of adverse economic effects and the lack of financial aid to finance it. However, the most hilarious argument against the climate policy was from the Czech prime minister, Andrej Babis: “Why should we decide 31 years ahead of time what should happen in 2050?” Well, you may not be alive at that time, but as I mentioned: these are targets. You have to do your part in them. Why is it a good idea to join it? You must show how committed you are to the European Union and its values, not just look at it as an ATM.

The Hungarian article argues that the Left was not environmentally conscious, yet they are demonising nuclear power. Let us clarify it again: nobody is diminishing it, they just want to make you understand: there was a Mayak, Chernobyl and Fukushima. All linked to nuclear power plants. Do we want the same with Paks? Could you explain to me why the local average temperature near Paks is higher than the rest of Hungary? Why is the Danube warmer there? Please do not argue the different structures of Chernobyl and Paks. What is more, Paks lies close to a tectonic fault. What if an earthquake strikes the area? Does Fukushima ring a bell?

Furthermore, the article says conservatives also act on the side of our climate, it is not necessary to be on the left. For sure it is true. Margaret Thatcher was a committed and ambitious climate activist, let’s never forget what she had done to mitigate against the depletion of the ozone layer. So it does not make any sense to posit things like the left considers environmental affairs as a privilege. Nobody said things like that. The American Democrats are not on the left-wing, as in the United States such things do not exist. It is very steep to place Republicans as conservatives and Democrats as liberals.

The Hungarian article also posits against the idea of “global citizens”. I have no idea why it has become a negative element. It is a good idea to be open to the world’s problems. Because your nation is a part of the world. Therefore, we are open to them as well. We want to act locally and think globally. Everyone wants to do his or her small part. However, since the events that took place in Hungary in 2006, it seems a lot of people are following the exact opposite. That is: “The price of bread has increased! Let’s damage the headquarters of a television station!” This is what happened.

Furthermore: “Ferencváros [Hungarian football club] got disqualified from the Hungarian Championship! Let’s damage the headquarters!” This is what happened. If you are thinking globally, would anyone care about this Hungarian team? Be committed to the world and heal it yourself by taking small steps. I have already been doing my part by cutting down on plastic. My team had already achieved in Bandung. Are you ready to do your part? Be aware: we do not have as much time as we think until 2030, or even 2050. The years are just blowing away!

– Gergely Lázár

    1. Orbán Balázs: Jegyzet a Jobboldali Zöld Politikáról (this article is in Hungarian, I translated the most important points of it above)
    2. The decisive debate between the two Hungarian prime minister candidates in 2006: Gyurcsány Vs. Orbán Választási Vita 2006 (it is also in Hungarian, I translated the key parts of it, which are what led Gyurcsány to win the election)
    3. Thalman, E., & Wehrmann, B. (2019, June 26): What German Households Pay for Power
    4. Paris Agreement
    5. Rankin, J. (2019, June 20): Central European Countries Block EU Moves Towards 2050 Zero Carbon Goal

The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of #WAYSWF.

 

Should carbon tax on consumption be on your holiday wish list?

Should carbon tax on consumption be on your holiday wish list?

As AIESEC Alumni, we often have to think about things we may not have had to consider as students. Take paying taxes as an example; it was something I had to focus much more on after college as more of that responsibility fell on me then than it had previously as a student or dependent. Now that we are paying more of our way, in what ways may we best vote with our wallets? In our efforts to continue to strive to live sustainably as Alumni, what kinds of market mechanisms should we be vocally endorsing?

Drafted by Chris Gassman

https://www.greenbiz.com/article/carbon-tax-consumption-happy-medium-weve-been-looking

When is Money a Relevant Motivator?

When is Money a Relevant Motivator?

In our student member days of AIESEC, we were curious as to what motivated our peers to team up productively and reach common goals. Sometimes these motivators were clear extrinsic factors, like financial performance bonuses. Sometimes more intrinsic factors, such as personal values, took priority.

What’s interesting is that not everyone sought out measurable outcomes. An example is the exchange participant learning and growing from their experience abroad. This is difficult to encourage because we don’t always know what motivates our peers to act. I believe that knowing what motivates our peers, and how their motivations overlap with our shared goals, can help us hone in on how we can effectuate change.

What if we use that same line of thinking in our teams today to act sustainably?

Drafted by Chris Gassman

Click to access cpu-2017-c-suite-guide-final.pdf

Thermal Power Plants

I live in the city of Eskişehir, Turkey, and right now a resistance movement has just begun. One by one, more people are joining it. They participate for themselves, for their lands, air, water, and for their future. This movement is against thermal power plants (TPPs). These TPPs are among many new solutions to generate energy in the 21st century, and our government decided to build one just 20 km away from my city’s centre. Though this issue may appear to be a local one, it is more much than that.

Our water, land, and air are under threat. Sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and other toxic particles and particulates can poison us causing lung damage and acid rain—every year 800, 000 premature deaths result from coal plant smokestacks. We are covering our future before it can shine.

Over the centuries, our desire to innovate has had unintended, but ruinous effects on nature. Nonetheless, the natural environment adapts itself to our harsh treatment of it. Somehow it still finds a way to give us everything we need to survive—food, fresh air, greenery, clear rivers, and so on. And still, humanity never stops destroying it.

I guess most people have an idea of how TPPs damage the water we drink, the air we breathe, and soils we toil. Unfortunately, some people are willing to turn a blind eye to them for a few short-term personal benefits. They think that they can find a job at one or get money if they sell their land to one. However, what about their grandchildren’s future? Do they ever think that far ahead?

It is painful and shameful to share the same air and lands with such people. I hope we will emerge the winner at the end of our resistance.

Wish us luck,

Drafted by Oguz Yilmazlar.

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/new-5-billion-thermal-power-plant-on-the-way-in-turkey-48580

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23692271-sapiens

https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/causes-and-effects-of-thermal-pollution.php

https://www.greenpeace.org/archive-international/en/campaigns/climate-change/coal/Coal-plants-pollute-the-air

 

What If?

What if your commute created meals, energy, & new job security? As AIESECers, we learn to see the world differently, for what it could be. In which spaces are you asking “What if…?”

Drafted by Chris Gassman

http://theray.org

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFLE7fDB0Bc

Until It Happens To You

Storm system brings heavy rain, flash flooding to Columbia, Richland.

Colombia landslide leaves at least 254 dead and hundreds missing.

The Latest: Rescuers suspend night search in Colombia.

“The disaster struck in the early hours of Saturday when the rushing waters of the Mocoa river and its tributaries converged on the capital of Putumayo province, catching many people by surprise as they slept. More than 1,000 emergency personnel, including soldiers and local police, were deployed to help the rescue effort and to keep order.”

“On Saturday, President Juan Manuel Santos blamed the tragedy on climate change, saying that the accumulated rainfall in one night was almost half the amount Mocoa typically receives in the entire month of March.”

“The Mocoa Mudslide is the deadliest in a wave of flood-related disasters in South America in recent months. Floods and landslides since the start of the year in Peru have left 101 people dead. In Ecuador, 21 people have died in the flooding.”

“A landslide in Colombia’s rural south-west in November killed nine people, and another in October killed 10 individuals in the north of the country.” (1)

“Changes in rainfall and other forms of precipitation will be one of the most critical factors determining the overall impact of climate change. Rainfall is much harder to predict than temperature, but there are some statements that scientists can make with confidence about the future.”

“A warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture, and globally water vapour increases by 7% for every degree centigrade of warming. How this will translate into changes in global precipitation is less clear cut, but the total volume of precipitation is likely to increase by 1-2% per degree of warming.” (2)

Should we be doing something about it? It`s our move.

Written by Petra Cvetanovic

(1) https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/01/colombia-landslide-mocoa-putumayo-heavy-rains
(2) https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/dec/15/climate-change-rainfall

The Paris Accord is Under Threat

On November 4, 2016, the historic Paris Agreement on climate change policy (#OurAccord) became international law. Four days later, on November 8, Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. And overnight, the set of policies required to fulfil the promises of the Paris Accord was under threat as the world was about to lose one of its sponsors for these initiatives – the government of the United States of America. (1)

Three months later, on 28 March 2017, in the name of removing the job-killing orders by the previous administration, the White House issued an executive order on domestic energy policy that seeks to hobble or reverse some of broad set of climate and clean energy initiatives developed by the Obama administration, including an important component called the Clean Power Plan that would reduce emissions from electricity generation. (2)

The next four (or maybe eight) years will be a challenging time for advocates of global climate change, which will require the rest of the world to work harder to find alternatives to the counter-effort set by the new U.S. administration. These must not be based on the attitude of “they don’t fulfil the pledge, why should we?” but have to come from collective efforts made by governments, communities, and individuals who are upholding that climate change is the biggest threat to their survival.

On a personal level, each and every one of us can live in a greener, lower carbon-emitting way. The world may need our ideas more than ever, and by sharing ways to fight climate change on social networks, we may alleviate the consequences of ill-contrived political policies. This critical moment in time will test our resolve to commit to our convictions. Not doing so will cost us dearly in the future.

Written by Colina Tran.

(1) https://www.climateinteractive.org/media-coverage/what-does-the-trump-administration-mean-for-climate-change-efforts/
(2) https://epeak.info/2017/03/29/trumps-executive-order-on-energy-independence/

http://edition.cnn.com/2017/03/27/politics/trump-climate-change-executive-order/

Call for Climate Action

There is no denial that greenhouse gas emissions attributed to climate change. Scientifically, such evidence is self-evident in nature.

– The pace at which sea level has been rising has almost doubled in the past decade compared to last century.
– Average global temperatures have increased rapidly.
– Arctic sea ice, ice sheets, and snow cover have decreased.
– Extreme events such as intense rainfall and ocean acidification have increased.

All these natural responses affect the lives of all kinds of species on Earth including humankind negatively. What do you do to kerb climate change?

Written by Colina Tran

Source: https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/

Before the Flood: How Can One Country Improve or Ruin the Entire Planet

“Climate change is the single greatest threat to a sustainable future but, at the same time, addressing the climate challenge presents a golden opportunity to promote prosperity, security and a brighter future for all.”
BAN KI-MOON (Former Secretary-General, United Nations)

Five months ago Leonardo Dicaprio released a documentary called: “Before The Flood.” In it, he talks about the journey of discovery that he found shocking and utterly relevant for the masses to see. I found a free version of this movie, for our community to watch. You just need to follow this link https://archive.org/details/youtube-90CkXVF-Q8M.

It stated in the video that India and America might easily be the largest contributors to climate change. While India is obviously struggling with these views, the USA, on the other hand, seems not as concerned.

Did this movie manage to raise awareness? How about the Paris Contract – do you think it will succeed? Let us take these questions to the comment section; I am very interested in learning your point of view on these issues.

Written by Petra Cvetanovic