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Giving up the climate goals brings peace for the moment

It is such a summer where the small life ended before the big, and world events still cannot be ducked somewhere. Food prices in the convenience store. The endless heat waves in Paris and people who had to change their holiday plans after the forest fires in southern Europe.

Inflation, the war in Ukraine and the climate crisis are closely linked, but it is still only around the first two that radical measures have been taken. It’s not news either. The record about political leaders sticking their heads in the sand regarding the climate crisis is scratchy at this point. In the upcoming Swedish parliamentary elections, six out of eight parties are promoting a policy that would not keep Sweden on course to pass the Paris Agreement. How is that even possible in 2022? How are the numbers not the other way around, with at most a couple of groups of deniers and foil hats ranting about how more people die from cold than heat after all?

It’s very easy to succumb to intellectual laziness, for the increasingly enticing thoughts of accepting the state of things, turning the energy inwards, towards the closest circle and not poking the nose out of the door again. This is one of the most deceptive behaviours out there.

The Munich Security Report is an annual study of people’s experience of global crises. The 2022 edition, which is essentially based on data collected before Russia invaded Ukraine, shows that concern about the state of the world has increased almost everywhere since the previous year. The interviews were conducted in the G7 countries, India, China, Russia, Brazil and South Africa. 

In the Western democracies, in particular, the feeling has spread that political leaders and decision-makers cannot do anything about the climate crisis, pandemics and the deteriorating security situation in many parts of the planet. Over half of the respondents state a feeling of lost control, of “collective helplessness” – a common impression that one cannot influence events in a positive direction. This, the study’s authors warn,

The experience that humans cannot solve even problems created by humans must, to some extent, be blamed on the political leaders. We have certainly chosen some of them (in the minority of countries in the world that have free elections), but that is also because we have to vote for someone. 

The decision-makers, for their part, have succumbed to short-termism, populism and an economic system that is no longer in step with humanity’s basic needs, if it ever was. The market economy will not solve the climate crisis for us. However much we have benefited from it for the emerging prosperity of the last fifty years.

The extra-parliamentary climate initiatives will probably increase in the near future as the political layer becomes increasingly irrelevant. Giving up, individually and collectively, will bring no peace except perhaps for the moment.

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