Who shall pay for the climate debt of the rich?

As in earlier COPs the Paris talks are dominated by discussions around degrees Celsius and who will have to pay for what. In reality those issues are not relevant at all.

The climate talks in Paris have entered the second week and apart from delivering tiring speeches, attendees have also been busy drafting drafts, some shorter while others longer than before. All in all, nothing new in the West. A lot of lengthy documents that the world knows from earlier times. Having witnessed little or nothing delivered of what world leaders have promised during environmental summits, I wonder if we really need more papers defining degrees Celsius and tools to account and monitor. If earlier commitments such as the Universal Declaration of the Human Rights —which by the way was proclaimed by the General Assembly of the UN in the same Paris in December 1948—, the Rio Declaration of 1992, or the Millennium Development Goals would have taken and been implemented seriously, then we wouldn’t need to ever again renegotiate the same topics.

One of the biggest questions that dominate the empty talks in Paris is the old one related to ‘who should pay for the climate debts that the rich have accumulated?’ Yes, correct, we talk about money, not degrees Celsius. It’s all about money, as any global conference or meeting of whatever parties. Climate change is the consequence of environmental pollution, which in economic terms is an external cost, and thus a money matter. In an ideal world[1] there are no transactions with externalities and hence no social and environmental costs. However, such circumstances would have a significant impact on the world order.

In an ideal world without environmental pollution and climate change, big polluters wouldn’t be able to exploit natural resources at the speed they currently do. They wouldn’t be able to accumulate money and power and consequently, the long discussed inequality among world citizens would dissapear. Equal access and climate justice would mean that the rich could no longer steal at the expense of the poor. That would be fatal. Imagine that prime ministers could no longer fly in private jets or that the bosses of businesses engaged in human rights abuse would need to trade their SUV for food? A horror scenario. That would be Mad Max right here, right now, a thing none of us wants, do we?

Isn’t it much better to live in a world where terrorism dominates the lives of citizens whereas the rich have the means to isolate themselves from the realty? A world in which only elites have access to important conferences and in which those who try to sneak into elite circles are being arrested, put under house arrest or ignored by the masses. After all it’s not the degrees of Celsius that count, it’s the stability of the system. And this stability is under thread; more so by voices calling for equity than by climate change. Therefore our governments love to focus on and talk about climate. Needless to say that our very system has ever since been founded on the control of the masses which in earlier centuries and according to Marx was achieved by the sedative character of religion. As a consequence of the Enlightenment in the 18/19th centuries, religion had to be substituted by science in the late 20th century. Never tired of finding the right drugs for the people global leaders have successfully created scapegoats such as climate change and sustainable development. However, wrong interpretation of climate change is as much an excuse for the pseudo-Enlightened elites as is a wrong interpretation of the Koran by extremists from ISIS and Al-Qaeda.

After all, it is not the small letters that matter, nor the length of a paper – it’s their actions that make citizens. Thus, if we really want to work on a better world, then neither the costs of climate change nor the degrees Celsius are important. What matters is that we start with action now.

[1] And as a matter of fact compared to the one we know one closer to that proclaimed in the Human Rights, the Rio Declaration or the Millennium Development Goals


About blaubear

Born in 1973 in a small village in rural Switzerland and into a society largely dominated by cows (not only was the human population of one-hundred-and-forty outnumbered by them, but politics were driven by unreasonable subsidies for diary products) I was connected with nature from early age on. Observing nature on one hand and the deficiencies of a dysfunctional Swiss agricultural policy with farmers that had lost connection to the land that provided their income on the other, I soon started to question society and the meaning of life. Suffering also under a farcical public education I developed curiosity to discover on my own. That was how I soon learned that little of what I had been taught was true. Skepticism and interaction with people from for me new cultures fostered my interest for the world and eagerness to leave a life shaped by federalistic layman-ship. At the age of twenty-three I hit the road for the first time, an event that later translated into passion. Traveling between cultures has since become part of my life. At the age of thirty-three I finally realized my dream and did a degree in Environmental Engineering from which I graduated in 2009, only to leave Switzerland once more for my "real home" Spain. Unfortunately, the stay was a short one: a couple of months later I was offered a job in Southeast Asia, where I worked and also lived (with some interruptions, e.g. I live in Melbourne since late 2012) ever since. Having worked for a Japanese company earlier in my life, I soon felt captured again by Asian culture and thinking which makes a lovely contrast to my European heritage. My journey through different countries and cultures has taught me that regardless of how different our thinking and values are, no matter what approaches we take, we all can learn from each other. And if we are open enough to see the common instead of pointing out the differences, then we have a chance to live in harmony and peace: Life is all about integration, not exclusion! It's an old wisdom that "knowledge is power", as such I never get tired of being around new people, having interesting talks, and reading lots of good books. I hope that my blog can contribute to the conversation.
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