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Green (In)Action

by on September 29, 2021

Richard Young’s article published September 23 in Carnegie International – Europe is eye-opening. It’s says nothing surprising, really, but puts into words the message that many climate activists and woke members of the public following the climate crisis have been trying to say.
Image from Young’s article

Young discusses different kinds of government, and how they might respond to the climate crisis and demands of climate activists. He observes, about panels and commissions that

Top-down, expert-led initiatives like the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Conference of Parties, and the Paris Agreement have in practice fallen short. They appear to drive not comprehensive solutions but rather changes that work within current systems—namely technological fixes without the necessary systemic changes to social and political organization.

(A lot of climate activists and scientists believe that COP26, despite its admirable goals, will in practice fall short, and accomplish little or nothing)

Commissions, panels, conventions, and conferences are set up by democracies. Although Young’s article focuses on Europe, it’s safe to say that his conclusion that Europeans are “acting to address climate change through an uneasy combination of depoliticized democracy, climate assemblies, and protest movements” applies to democracies beyond Europe.

He provides several steps that would help “democracies become more fully attuned to the imperatives of ecological transformation: Root climate expertise in popular support; Foster localized conceptions of citizenship; Harness the power of mass engagement productively; Balance the climate movement’s localism and transnationalism; and Couch climate action in full-fledged democratic renewal.

He concludes that “Rather than pitting different kinds of democratic engagement against one another, countries need a more comprehensive conception of democracy to deal with the ecological transition for the long haul. Reshaping democracy by fixing these limitations to current approaches for achieving a greener future is the crucial task ahead.”

What we should take away from the article is that not only is “ecological transformation” essential to mitigate climate change, but there must be a transformation of democracy and citizen engagement.

From → Environment

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