Who pays for climate change?

Wind turbines and the "COP apple". Photo capture and synthesis by Georgios Kostakos

The impact of climate change is visible in things big and small. But, how much do we know and what can we do about it?

Changes in climate, which have been manifesting themselves with growing intensity in recent years, are causing serious problems, especially in low-lying Pacific Island countries. Within the next decades, these countries are expected to lose a substantial part of their territory or even disappear, as they will be at the mercy of ocean waters rising due to melting glaciers and will suffer from devastating hurricanes and other natural disasters. Their people will lose their properties and national sovereignty not to a human enemy but rather to natural elements destabilised by human activity.

According to scientists, the emission of carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse gases” is largely responsible for the increase in the average global temperature by one degree Celsius since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, namely from the mid-19th century to this day. It is not only the Caribbean and Pacific islands that are at risk. Long periods of drought cause desertification and sudden downpours destroy crops and sweep away fertile soil making it impossible for people to survive in parts of Africa and the Middle East. This has led to an increase in “climate refugee” flows and to tension, even wars in many parts of the world. To a certain extent, it is considered that the wars in the Darfur region of Soudan and Syria were caused by droughts and forced displacement of populations.

The Mediterranean countries are considered particularly vulnerable to climate change and many forecasts concur on growing desertification, as is already the case in Spain. The forest fire season is extended and the cost, including loss of human lives, is becoming increasingly bigger as we recently witnessed in Attica, Greece and Portugal. Even Sweden sees an increase in forest fires, while floods and heat waves strike regularly Western Europe.

This has led to an increase in “climate refugee” flows and to tension, even wars in many parts of the world.

Response efforts

Efforts to address the impact of climate change are divided into two categories. On the one hand, the efforts tackling negative effects by halting expected natural disasters through flood defences and forest protection measures, crop substitution, information and education of the population in high-risk areas, etc. – this is what we call Adaptation. On the other hand, the efforts combatting the factors causing climate change or making it worse, such as burning fossil fuels used in energy production, transport, etc. – this is what we call Mitigation.

International agreements, like the famous Paris Agreement of December 2015 which was achieved after lengthy negotiations at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), lay down a number of rules and ensure a level of transparency in an attempt for all countries to take their due share of responsibility and act decisively to combat climate change. To that end, China and the US, the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, have advised on what they can do and when, on a voluntary basis but under certain international supervision. However, even this loose commitment was not to President Trump’s liking, so much so that he has initiated the procedure of taking the US out of the Paris Agreement. The excuses provided for this negative attitude vary from questioning the causes or the very existence of climate change to the safeguarding of jobs in the coal-mining or any other polluting industry at all costs.

The European Union takes the lead in international commitments to combat climate change setting high targets for greenhouse gas emission cuts in the coming years, aiming to an increase in renewable energy sources and significant detachment from fossil fuel by 2050. Of course, the theory is better than the practice, as several EU countries fall significantly short of collective goals and the debate on “the green economy” and “green jobs” does not lead to concrete results.

Who stands to gain from combatting climate change? 

Many “do-gooders” are quick to join the fight against climate change aiming at business benefits as well as political or other public recognition. It is neither the first nor the last time that this happens. Although their motives might often be self-serving, the fact that things are moving and there is increased creative innovation is vital and promising for the future. Energy production from renewable sources is thus steadily rising, with a country like Germany able to meet its energy needs from renewables under conditions of strong wind and sun. Due to the intermittent nature of renewable energy production, there are, certainly, some issues regarding the storage and distribution of the energy surplus during peak time so this can be used during periods that production is insufficient. However, technology is constantly improving and the prices of photovoltaics and wind turbines are falling.

The degree to which the average citizen benefits from such advances is another story. We witnessed – and are still witnessing – the reaction to the French government’s decision to impose an additional tax on motor fuels. Many people in the rural areas living on the verge of poverty saw this as a head-on attack and a push towards destitution. Even if we deem the intentions of the government sincere and aiming to discourage the use of CO2 emitting means of transport, at the end of the day, the irrational imposition of this measure upon “the just and the unjust” or rather the poor and the wealthy alike led to the uprising of the ones left marginalised and gave birth to the “yellow vests” movement, without ultimately benefiting the fight against climate change. The reaction to attempts to close down mines in Poland, Greece and other countries is evidence that the economic and social impact of measures  tackling climate change is rather complex, as it touches on matters of “climate justice” and controlled transition, which need to be taken seriously if this task is to be brought to fruition.

Is climate change an environmental issue?

Voting and debating may be key instruments of democratic governance but their results are binding only for people, not the planet.

From the above, it is clear that even if climate change manifests itself in the form of extreme natural phenomena, its causes can be traced back to socioeconomic factors and can only be addressed as such. A drastic change in the way the economy works is much needed, focusing on renewable energy sources and low “carbon footprint” products, namely those whose manufacturing requires low or zero greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, cutting down on the use of vehicles running on fossil fuels, phasing out plastics and a circular economy based on product reuse and recycling are key prerequisites.

In order for all this to happen, each and every one of us should change our lifestyle and assume our share of responsibility through our choices in products and means of transport or even our diet; we need to reduce the consumption of meat, which requires large amounts of energy and water in order to be produced and distributed, and prioritise food produced in close proximity and not sourced from the other side of the world, thus also helping local producers.

Are we ready for this? Unfortunately, climate change does not ask for our permission and does not answer to our orders, even if President Trump and other populist leaders choose to put the issue to a referendum and win. Voting and debating may be key instruments of democratic governance but their results are binding only for people, not the planet. This is where we need to find a fine balance between demands and practical needs and adapt, if not suddenly and absolutely then gradually and partially, our behaviour as citizens and consumers.

This does not necessarily need to result in a decline in our living standards but in a reassessment of our priorities. We are entitled to and must insist so that the relevant legal framework facilitate such adaptations and transitions, rewarding good practices and discouraging bad ones, compensating and/or training the ones that are most affected by the changes while at the same time guaranteeing that those less privileged will not suffer disproportionally or as much as the well-off.

 

This article was first published by the author in Greek, on his blog Kostakos.eu. It was translated into English by Maro Mantziara.

Georgios Kostakos

Georgios Kostakos is Executive Director of the Foundation for Global Governance and Sustainability (FOGGS) in Brussels, and co-founder of Katoikos.eu. He has held several positions with the United Nations in New York and in the field, and has also worked with the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP), the University of Athens, The Hague institute for Global Justice and Salzburg Global Seminar. The opinions expressed here are his own.


Would you like to share your thoughts?

Your email address will not be published.

Legal note

1.    Terms and Conditions

2.    Privacy Policy

3.    Cookies Policy

 

1.    Terms and Conditions

Contact data for the web owner

This website has been created by KATOIKOS to promote their products and services.

– Name: Katoikos, S.L

– Co. tax Code:  B87123162

– Address:  Calle Campomanes 10, 28013  Madrid (SPAIN)

Registration details: Registered in the Commercial Register of Madrid.

Intellectual and Industrial Property

The various elements of this page, and website as a whole, are protected by Spanish legislation on intellectual and industrial property. The trademarks, trade names or logos appearing on this website are the property of the company, or, where appropriate, of third parties, and are protected by Trademarks Law, and of which KATOIKOS holds the legitimate license.

The information provided may not be used for commercial or public purposes, or modified. If the user downloads materials for personal and non-commercial use, warnings shall be kept about copyright and trademarks. To download and use the company logo that appears on the website, prior authorization is required.

Any unauthorised use of the images may violate copyright laws, trademark laws, the laws of privacy and publicity, and communications regulations and statutes.

Liability for Damage

KATOIKOS assumes no liability for damages you may suffer when browsing the web or in the use of computer applications that are part of it. Neither are warranties given as to the correction of malfunctions or updating of content.

Content you share with us

We may include features on this website that allow you to share your content with us and other users of the site. Please note that by sharing content it may become publicly accessible. You grant to Katoikos a worldwide, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license, without compensation to you:

 (a) to use, reproduce, distribute, adapt (including without limitation edit, modify, translate, and reformat), derive, transmit, display and perform, publicly or otherwise, such content, in any media now known or hereafter developed, for Kaotikos’ business purposes, and

 (b) to sublicense the foregoing rights, through multiple tiers, to the maximum extent permitted by applicable law. The foregoing licenses shall survive any termination of your use of the site, as further described below.

For all of the content you share through the site, you represent and warrant that you have all rights necessary for you to grant these licenses, and that such content, and your provision or creation thereof through the site, complies with all applicable laws, rules, and regulations and does not infringe or otherwise violate the copyright, trademark, trade secret, privacy or other intellectual property or other rights of any third party, and is furthermore free from viruses and other malware.

Rules of Conduct

When using this website and/or sharing content with us, you are prohibited from posting or transmitting :

1. any unlawful, threatening, defamatory, racist, obscene, scandalous, deceptive, false, fraudulent, inflammatory or profane material or any material that could constitute or encourage conduct that would be considered a criminal offence, give rise to civil liability, or otherwise violate any law.
2. Any virus, worm, Trojan horse, Easter egg, time bomb, spyware or other computer code, file, or program that is harmful or invasive or may or is intended to damage or hijack the operation of, or to monitor the use of, any hardware, software or equipment;
3. Any unsolicited or unauthorized advertising, promotional materials, “junk mail,” “spam,” “chain letter,” “pyramid scheme” or investment opportunity, or any other form of solicitation; and
4. Any material non-public information about a person or a company without the proper authorization to do so.

In addition, you will not:

1. Use this website for any fraudulent or unlawful purpose;
2. Interfere with or disrupt the operation of the website or the servers or networks used to make the website available; or violate any requirements, procedures, policies or regulations of such networks;
3. Access or use this website through any technology or means other than those expressly designated by us.
4. Restrict or inhibit any other person from using this website (including by hacking or defacing any portion of the website);
5. Except as expressly permitted by applicable law, modify, adapt, translate, reverse engineer, decompile or disassemble any portion of this website.
6. Remove any copyright, trademark or other proprietary rights notice from this website.
7. Frame or mirror any part of the webiste without our express prior written consent;
8. Create a database by systematically downloading and storing all or any content;
9. Use any robot, spider, site search/retrieval application or other manual or automatic device to retrieve, index, “scrape,” “data mine” or in any way reproduce or circumvent the navigational structure or presentation of this website, without our express prior written consent.

Links

Kaotikos  reserves the right to remove any messages or statements or cancel any links.

This site may include hyperlinks to other web sites that are not owned or controlled by Katoikos. Katoikos has no control over, and assumes no responsibility for, the content, privacy policies, security or practices of any third party websites.

Content may be hosted on YouTube or other social media. Those operate their own set of terms and conditions and privacy policy which are separate to the ones presented on this website. Katoikos no control over and assumes no responsibility for, the content, privacy policies, security or practices on YouTube or other social media.

 The right to terminate your access

Katoikos reserves the right to terminate your access to this website at any time if you do not comply with these Terms and Conditions or you infringe Kaotikos’ rights in the content provided on this website.

Governing Law

These Terms and Conditions are governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of Spain, without regard to its choice of law provisions.  You agree to the exclusive jurisdiction by the courts of Spain.

Changes to the Terms

Katoikos reserves the right to make changes to the Terms and Conditions from time to time. You acknowledge and agree that your continued access to or use of this website will constitute your acceptance of such changes.

2.    Privacy Policy

Kaotikos takes the protection of your personal data very seriously and collects, processes and uses your data only in accordance with the standards of the legal data protection regulations.

Data is collected, processed and used with technologyes of the provider web trends for marketing and optimisation purposes and also for sending news and information you may be interested in by any electronic services, such as email or SMS.

Our website user’s database is registered at the Spanish Agency of Data Protection. You have the rights of access, rectification, deletion and opposition, regulated in articles 14 to 16 of the LOPD.

For this, please write to:

KATOIKOS (Data Protection) Calle Campomanes 10, 28013, Madrid (SPAIN)

Or send an email to info@katoikos.eu. Your ID will be requested for these issues.

3.    Cookies Policy

This site, like many others, uses small files called cookies to help us customise your experience. Find out more about cookies and how you can control them.

This page contains information on what ‘cookies’ are, the cookies used by the Kaotikos’ website and how to switch cookies off in your browser.

If it does not provide the information you were looking for, or you have any further questions about the use of cookies on the Katoikos’s website, please email info@katoikos.eu.

What are ‘cookies’?

‘Cookies’ are small text files that are stored by the browser (for example, Internet Explorer or Safari) on your computer or mobile phone. They allow websites to store things like user preferences. You can think of cookies as providing a ‘memory’ for the website, so that it can recognise you when you come back and respond appropriately.

How does the Katoikos’s website use cookies?

A visit to a page on the Kaotikos’s website may generate the following type of cookies: Anonymous analytics cookies.

This website uses Google Analytics, a web analytics service provided by Google, Inc., a Delaware company whose main office is at 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View (California), CA 94043, USA (“Google”).

Google Analytics uses “cookies”, which are text files placed on your computer, to help the website analyze how users use the site. The information generated by the cookie about your use of the website (including your IP address) will be transmitted to and stored by Google on servers in the United States. Google will use this information on our behalf in order to track your use of the website, compiling reports on website activity and providing other services relating to website activity and internet usage. Google may also transfer this information to third parties where required to do so by law, or where such third parties process the information on Google’s behalf. Google will not associate your IP address with any other data held by Google.

Anonymous analytics cookies

Cookier Name Origin Aim End
__utma Google Analysis 2 years since set –up or update
__utmb Google Analysis 30 minutes since set –up or update
__utmc Google Analysis When browser sesión ends
_utmt Google Analysis 10 minutes since set –up or update
__utmz Google Analysis 6 months since set –up or update

How do I turn cookies off?

It is usually possible to stop your browser accepting cookies, or to stop it accepting cookies from a particular website. All modern browsers allow you to change your cookie settings. You can usually find these settings in the ‘options’ or ‘preferences’ menu of your browser. To understand these settings, the following links may be helpful, or you can use the ‘Help’ option in your browser for more details.

Cookie settings in Internet Explorer
Cookie settings in Firefox
Cookie settings in Chrome
Cookie settings in Safari web and iOS.

 

© 2019 Katoikos, all rights are reserved. Developed by eMutation | New Media

Become a
Being up to date with Europe only takes a few seconds.
Your information will never shared with a third party.
logo
subscriber!
Get our periodical newsletter sent to your inbox!
I have read and agreed the Privacy Policy (required)
Become a
Being up to date with Europe only takes a few seconds.
logo
subscriber!
Get our periodical newsletter sent to your inbox!
Your information will never shared with a third party.
I have read and agreed the Privacy Policy (required)