Category: Policy

Climate change is a systemic and structural problem. Individual actions are important, but not enough. We need governmental action to solve the climate crisis.

System Change not Climate Change – my protest sign explained

Sunday the 27th of January, 11 am. I am preparing myself to leave the house, putting on an extra sweater before I get into my warmest winter jacket. I am about to navigate myself through the rainy streets to the North Station of Brussels, where soon another climate protest will start to demand action from the Belgian governments. It’s the second march this week, the 5th in the last two months. The last thing I pick up before I head off is my protest sign. It reads: ‘System Change not Climate Change’.

Rained out but full of energy after walking with more than 70 000 through the streets of Brussels to demand system change over climate change (own photo)

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My climate action wish list for 2019

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you had a great holiday break and are ready to make the world a better place this year.

2018 was a pretty amazing year for me on a personal level. I got settled into a new job and a new city, started a campaign against single-use plastics with a group of friends, and started giving guided tours in Brussels to showcase citizen initiatives that are making the Belgian capital more sustainable. Although these two projects kept me from writing blog posts as much as I would have wanted, they were very rewarding and brought me in contact with a lot of inspiring people.

The satisfaction I got out of my work was somewhat overshadowed by the fact that humankind did a pretty bad job preparing for a low-carbon society. Over and over again, I was disappointed in the lack of urgency in the business world and among policy makers. Not the least when the climate conference COP24 in Poland ended with meagre results and barely increased commitments from member states. All this after a number of unambiguous scientific reports laid out clearly that time is running out.

In short, they come down to the following: to limit catastrophic climate change, we need to keep global warming under 1,5 degrees Celsius by the end of this century. How to make that happen? Cut carbon emissions by half by 2030 (12 years from now!) and be carbon neutral by 2050. Footnote: worldwide emissions are currently still on the rise.

What better way to wash away that somewhat bitter aftertaste of 2018, with some optimistic dreams for what the future could bring? I sat down with a cup of cinnamon tea and drafted up a list of climate action wishes for 2019. By no means exhaustive, but hey, if we can move forward on all these fronts this year I will be a happy man!

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COP24 in coal town Katowice: what to expect?

It’s that time of the year again. The days are getting shorter, the trees have shed off their last leaves, and the city is preparing itself for the Christmas festivities. It can only mean one thing: the yearly climate conference is around the corner! This summit, known as Conference of the Parties or COP, in short, is ready for its 24th edition. This year’s host is the (former) coal king of coal-addicted Poland: Katowice.

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Why I will not read the new IPCC report

I have been extremely busy lately and therefore running completely behind on my writing schedule. If that was not enough, the IPCC decided to publish another of its so-many-hundreds-of-pages-counting reports on climate change. This time I decided to not even start reading the executive summary. Why, you ask? Because I am getting so damn tired of reports, press conferences, talks, climate summits, and what not the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has been dropping on us since the first global Earth Summit in Rio in 1992.

The cover of the IPCC’s latest special report on global warming.

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Making young people vote: An overlooked solution to step up climate ambition?

I used to write regularly about politics here on the Shift. Its importance for tackling climate change is pretty obvious: a problem that transcends national borders asks for a political and diplomatic solution. Yet, together with my audience, I got discouraged by the fact that the positive progress that has been made on that front always seems to be ‘too little, too late’. I chose to focus my articles on entrepreneurs and scientists paving the way for solving the climate crisis. From the response I got from you, my dear readers, it seems you like that approach.

In 2019, the voice of young people should be heard louder than ever!

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2018: time to step up the climate game

2017: Devastating fires in Portugal, Hurricane Maria kicking Puerto Rico KO, record temperatures in Sydney, an iceberg as big as Delaware braking of the Antarctic Larsen-C ice-shelf, a wildfire season spanning 6 months in California, accelerated melting of Greenland’s glaciers, streets turned into rivers in… I could go on and on. As bloggers and journalists on climate change we used to write in the future tense to describe a warmer world. That has changed.

I have the feeling the last year gave us a look into the future. As you might know, it is difficult to prove the relationship between one particular extreme weather event and the rise of average global temperatures. Yet, we do know as a fact that the intensity and frequency of weather events like those  scourging the planet the previous 12 months will increase. What do I say, are increasing. You see, I haven’t got used to the change of tenses myself yet.

Wildfires caused billions in losses and claimed several lives in Portugal, Spain, California, and Australia

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