Duo of Science and Activism

Albert Edelfelt: Louis Pasteur (1885) // Public domain

The next COP27 Climate Summit was held in Egypt. The very choice of Egypt as a country of the COP27 Presidency was strongly criticised by the communities involved in human rights activities.

We must also not forget the global context of the event. The consequences of the climate crisis are increasingly being felt around the world; droughts, violent weather events, food security threats, and climate migration pose new challenges to an old unresolved problematic and ineffective world strategy. Russia’s aggression on Ukraine, the energy crisis, and rising prices make the climate debate extremely important.

On the one hand, policymakers talk about postponing reforms and fair transformation. On the other hand, they must allocate more and more financial resources to resolve issues that arise as a result of the strategy “let’s postpone the climate because we have more urgent matters.” More urgent matters are becoming more difficult to resolve because they depend on the world leaders undertaking strategies and plans they want to postpone. 

Activists, lobbyists, politicians, journalists once again began discussions on obvious topics.  Obvious and worrying because as it constantly and ineffectively alerts the scientific community, countries do not meet climate goals. They are not just not doing it. Since the outbreak of the war in Europe, the European Commission and Parliament have lowered their ambitions for the transformation of the food system, pointing to the threat to food security, not forgetting that it is precisely the promotion of the old, broken food production system that contributes to the greatest risk to accessing healthy, sustainable food in the world of 8 billion people.

Again Climate Debate without Steak and Glass of Milk

Anita Krajnc, co-initiator of an open letter to the COP27 Presidency to open negotiations on the Plant Treaty, said:

“We are rushing to climate hell, with a methane-emitting meat burger in one hand and a foot on a fossil fuel gas pedal.”

This quote illustrates very well the place where we are – on the way to a climatic pileup.

In a world driven by the lobby, which represents those who pollute (fossil fuels, meat, dairy, eggs, transport) it is difficult to balance. Throughout the event, there is one Food 4 Climate pavilion organized by NGOs, including the 50by40 coalition (to which the Green REV Institute belongs). As in all meetings, debates, forums (e.g. EU Platform on Animal Welfare), those who have profits to lose have an advantage: lobbyists of polluters. Financial advantage, advantage of resources, people, research that can be created to order.

Therefore, observing the next day of the Climate Summit, as a 25-year-old activist of the third sector, a spokesperson for change and fair transformation, a student, a European, living in a large city in Poland, I wonder what is next. I participated in the Climate Summit in Glasgow in 2021. I co-organized a major event of the Future Food 4 Climate coalition the day after the official COP27 closure. On a daily basis, I contact local, national, European and global decision makers on issues related to the fair transformation of food and agriculture. In 12 months between the Climate Summits, I have struggled to ridicule, downplay and misunderstand the scientific data that most decision-makers call ideology.

Ecologicalism, vegeterror, experiments, ideology – this is how most politicians define the reforms that must be carried out because the forests are already burning. In a press release to COP27, the European Commission pointed to the need for adaptation and financial support for those who are already victims of climate change.

At the same time, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has forgotten about the transformation of the food system and the word “food” appears once throughout the text – in the context of food security, but not in the context of the transformation of agriculture and the production system. Actions and promises to do so are never comprehensive and point to priorities instead of holistically fixing what is not only broken but also fuels further damage.

COP or New COP?

Therefore, my demand in the framework of climate summits is very clear – let’s turn them into Conferences of the Scientific and Activist Environment. Let us listen to the needs of people living in different parts of the world, let us create a damage map that will show who is polluting, what are the possibilities of repairing damage and counteracting others. A comprehensive climate audit including food, transport and energy is the basis for further action and a map of polluters and their victims is the basis for building strategies longer than the terms of office.

We need to determine the scale of the alarms caused by unsustainable agriculture and meat, dairy and egg production, the scale of the damage to the fossil fuel and transport sectors. We have to develop a map of food poverty, of transport exclusion and energy poverty. The scale of damage and threats can today be determined by scientists together with activists and representatives of the non-governmental sector. Where governments fail and political courage limits and blocks reforms, a duo of science and activism must work.

What Is Next?

Today, we are already paying the price for passivity and lack of courage. The price is getting higher, with the lives and health of people, ecosystems and non-human animals at stake. In the rush on the highway, in a car in which we omitted human and animal rights and put the producer’s profits above the common good, we have little chance of avoiding tragedy. The tragedy which hits hard those places in the world which are less privilaged and in a weaker negiotiating position.

Tomorrow it will knock on our doors in the form of drought, another Oder, pandemic, zoonoses, antibiotic resistance, lack of healthy food, air pollution, water, soil. The only chance for us is to include the scientific and activist community in the activities and decisions, as those who will be able to install airbags and take over the steering wheel.

Written by Morgan Janowicz

The article was originally published in Polish at: https://liberte.pl/tam-gdzie-zawodza-rzady-musi-dzialac-duet-nauki-i-aktywizmu/

Translated by Natalia Banaś

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