At Greenfish, we actively look for the latest innovations and trends in sustainability. Each month, we organise our Impact Sessions, a sort of mini conference that aims to share knowledge and debate with specialists on sustainability-related topics. This is an opportunity for our consultants to learn more about their field and feel more integrated into our Greenfish community.

On Tuesday November 6th, our #8 Impact Session presented by Philippe Lamberts took place. A member of the EU parliament and part of the Green-party, his interesting speech was about politics’ place in ecology. He explored three major points:

  1. the main reasons for transitioning,
  2. the limits of the classical neo-liberal economy,
  3. and the politic-driven ideology of modifying a belief for it to fit the model instead of changing it.

During our previous Impact Session, Raymond Bradley was explaining where we stand on global warming and the detriment of going above the +2°C temperature rise imposed during the COP21.

After reintroducing the topic, Philippe Lamberts talked about how Johan Rockström, Professor at and former Executive Director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University, confirms that if we go above these 2°C, we will have to face irreversible temperature changes.

Resources are scarce, and we are using them up very fast. As the extraction of resources requires more energy every year, prices of the resources will only continue to increase.

The four main reasons one should switch to the transition, are to:

  1. Meet environmental challenges (for the good of the planet)
  2. Respond to social needs (for health reasons for example, especially breathing problems)
  3. Seize the economic opportunity of the century (people will save money on the long term because solutions are sustainable. For example, a fridge can last 50 years, we don’t need technological progress regarding a lot of common tools; we need to last the way longer)
  4. Strategic reasons : The longer we depend on fossil fuels and gas, the longer we will deal with Russia … and other countries where human rights are not a #1 priority.

But the downside of the transition is that we might become dependent on minerals and rare earth metals.

The EU used to boast about how they lead the transition. And this isn’t true anymore… We are already slowing down the efforts for the 2020 targets to leave room for the 2030 ones, even though they have not all been met. Even worse, the future objectives for EU members are not restrictive. While the EU commission knows that we have to invest 200BN€/ year, it only invests 120BN€/year. We know very well that all commitments are set too low, but we wait to see how and if they work first before rising them up, while we should set them high from the beginning, and set them even higher if the results are positive!

The European investment Bank (EIB) is funding energy projects in Europe. But studies have shown that they invest more in fossil fuels than in renewables. Why? There seems to be a difference between priorities and actions.

Despite being an early developer, the EU largely exported its CO2 emissions. But where did those emissions go? We only exported our externalities by moving them from one place to another, so they have not disappeared: as the global warming effect is affecting everyone, it isn’t a long term solution.

So, why is the EU slowing down on renewable matters? Politics strongly influence economy and ecology. Lobbies send messages like “Trust us, we will improve”, “We can’t afford it”, “Technology will save the day”, “Don’t harm the competitiveness of our companies”, “It will put jobs at risk” … Politicians keep wanting to see what others do before taking any action/decision. They don’t take dangerous initiatives. They are against some ideas because they are afraid it will put jobs at risk, while it would be the contrary. Transition would in fact create more jobs compared to a full carbonized based society we live in, because it will be more work intensive. Most politicians have only ever known politics; most of them have seldom worked in private companies before starting politics.  And yet… they take economic decisions and have the power of lobbying. Politicians became a part out of our society as a separate ruling class, rather than being of the people.

Next impact session will be held on the 11th of December, with Olivier de Schutter talking about sociology and ecology.