ClimateEnergyEnvironmentIndustryResearch & Innovation

The green transition only hurts those who do not want to take it seriously

By MEP Pernille Weiss (EPP, Denmark), Chair of the MEP Water Group, Member of the Environment Committee, European Parliament

I have noticed that several of my colleagues are advocating the view that the green transition is going to hurt if we are to succeed in achieving the climate goals.

I think that is a strange premise. How do they know that? Should there be any pain involved before anything can go well? Or does the pain metaphor sound more action-ready and consistent and thus more politically correct?

In contrast, there are others – including me – who, conversely, believe that we actually already are very adaptable, and that only relatively few are vulnerable to the ongoing and upcoming changes in everyday life – in our shopping, in many companies’ production equipment and so on.

It should not be denied that there will be steps on the ladder towards the fulfillment of climate goals, which will be connoted with a certain form and degree of pain. Of course.

There will be anxiety from the hassle of adjustment and headaches from hearing how many – no one mentioned, no one forgotten – complain that the transition is either too slow, wrong, too fast, or not at all. But I would strongly warn against us as politicians promising in advance that it will hurt regardless and for sure.

Simply, I think that statement is a cheap shot.

With that mindset we allow ourselves to be sloppy when we rattle off with initiatives in all directions and in asynchronous heartbeats. It’s also cheap – and too easy – because the chorus of doomsday prophets, especially our political opponents on the left, use the echo chamber of the climate struggle to revive old 70’s revolutionary sentiments, in order to steal time for political craftmanship, it is to find sustainable solutions.

That life hurts, the human race has always had to experience. Through pain, new and often deeper insights are gained into life and into the resources available to the individual or the environment. That the climate change is thus something particularly ‘evil’ is therefore nonsense, although it is typical of how our time is occupied with avoiding any kind of pain, waiting time, disadvantage, differences, etc. At the same time as we consciously seek out the pain and competition in everything from the gym, in the pursuit of love, and the statement that all change for the better only happens through firewalking.

That’s weird.

What if it is possible to achieve the climate goals with enthusiasm, desire, voluntary cooperation and mutual recognition?

What if the green transition is actually possible to carry out without hurting anyone for a particularly long time? What if the way we plan and carry out the changeover happens with logical, meaningful and encouraging information along the way, with appropriate funding and an ongoing re-design of incentives and instruments that support the experience and confidence that it all happens as smooth and fast as possible? What if facts and technology neutrality, as well as the will to make the EU truly self-sufficient in green and clean energy in abundant and secure quantities, fill most of the media picture?

Preferably in ways where my old parents can be assured that everything will probably be all right and that their great-grandchildren will not need to protest with stomach ache and anger in the mouth.

I think we should strive for that.

After all, we politicians could start by taking seriously the growing frustrations about greenwashing that have long come from an increasing number of companies. Companies, that for many years have worked according to the UN World Goals. Companies that have adhered to the life cycle logic and circular economy long before the EU green investment taxonomy was finally adopted.

Let us now create the framework and foundation for the EU to show the rest of the world that concrete CO2 measurements from cradle-to-grave of everything from toys to tuna can actually be calculated and used as a guide so that we can get as painless as possible through the transition.

Based on real facts – not numbers that sound good on paper.

That might hurt. On someone. Namely, the potent vanity of us politicians when we cannot just state that ‘it is going to hurt’ but have to roll up our sleeves and go to war with making the climate fight less evil than it hopefully needs to be.