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Fusing Futures
Fusing Futures

Season 1, Episode 9 · 1 year ago

Zooming In and Zooming Out: From COVID Crisis to Climate Crisis and Back

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Since the outbreak of the pandemic started, stakeholders across the world have taken it seriously implementing different measures. But what about another ongoing crisis such as the climate one? What are some parallels between these two crises? Why do we need backcasting and call for evidence in planning future responses? To find out we talk to Damjan Bogunovic, Environmental Program Coordinator at the Heinrich Böll Foundation (Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo).

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Although I truly admire the way thatthe world regrouped and responded to the covid nineteen crisis, it got me thinkingabout all the other challenges were facing, but not responding to them in suchan agile manner. Using US, using futures. Light them up, usingfutures, using futures them up, fusing futures, light them up. Let'stake climate change, for example, or, as I prefer, the climate crisis. How do we go about this one? This is the topic ofthis episode of our fusing futures podcast. I'm delighted to welcome a fellow memberof the Bosch Alumni Network, Mr Diamond Bun which, who is working asEnvironment Program Coordinator at Hundred Bell Stiff Tung Belgrade office. We woke up ina world in which board is a closed, airplane stopped flying, roads are empty, in a world in which our social and, to some extent,environmental ecosystems changed, and we instantly recognize this as a crisis. Most countriesdid, at least, and adjusted accordingly as fast as possible. The climatecrisis, as you've said, or climate emergency, was put aside even thecop the annual UN Climate Summit that was supposed to happen in the UK,as you know, later this year, was postponed. Covid nineteen was deemeda much greater emergency. COVID nineteen crisis and climate change are apparently very muchconnected, at least with this narrative that...

...has emerged, the narrative of nature'srevival or even the nature striking back to humans. Although the news of Nature'shealing at the face of decreasing of human activities are pleasant, I must admitthat I find this narrative troublesome and annoying. So can you tell me a littlebit more? How do you see this narrative and what are its downsides, especially when we think about getting people on board with the Environment Protection andrelated topics? The renewing of nature, or nature's revival is, in myviewing, lack of a better word, quite a naive narrative. The underlyingidea is correct. Human activity is disturbing the balance in our planetary ecosystems andwe're close to a point of no return, or rather a point in which thescience at our disposal has no clear answers on what might happen, suchas the case of the planet warming more than two degrees Celsius science cannot tellus with precision what will happen then. There are too many variables in theclimate system. Now, the underlying ideas correct. Our ecosystems are often outof balance, but this idea that nature is somehow fighting back in a mysticalway is taking the agency from us, citizens and people of the planet.It is a passiveizing discourse. Did we need this to happen in order tosee that we don't need to travel as much for business? Did we reallynot know that we need less cars on the streets and and more public transportand cycling lanes and pedestrian zones? anyways, now that we have suddenly realized andthis rush of clean, unpolluted air has mystically appeared, the question iswhat we do about it? Can we think of ways of living in harmonywith the environment, if you wish? You already mentioned the response to theCOVID nineteen crisis. So what is different...

...here to the way that we approachthe crisis that we're talking about here, which is the climate crisis? Well, I would say that there are some very sportant parallels with between covid crisisand the climate change crisis. For example, much has been said about the disproportionateeffect that the pandemic has had on the vulnerable communities. Similar to theHIV pandemic in the United States, for example, the African American communities withdisproportionately affected. We can only read a bit about what is going on withthe informal settlements and Roman communities in the region. I would also say thatthere are some very important parallels with regards to knowledge production and this science policyinterface. More broadly, I was very much struck by the by the speedwith which science was translated into policy when it comes to Covid ninetteen. Whenit comes to climate change, we have the science, but translating science intopolicies and implementing these policies is the problem. We often talk about evidence based decisionmakingprocesses and and bulged open school works on this as well. In thecase of covid nineteen pandemic, the crisis was immediately recognized as a crisis bymost countries. UK was slow to react. In Sweden had a very specific answer, but the understanding that we're facing a crisis was there. We didnot know nearly enough about the virus, but our countries took all the precortionarymeasures. When it comes to environmental problems and climate emergency, this is notthe case and I think perhaps short termism is a problem. We cannot seepast the first quarter if we are a corporation, or a four to fiveyear period in case of a democratically elected government. Perhaps that is something they'rein need. Two people and to societies, or at least our contemporary societies.I'm often reminded of a of a...

...story of new college in Oxford.New College was founded in one thousand three hundred and seventy nine. It isone of the oldest stocks but colleges. It has, like other colleges,a great dining hall with huge oak beams across the top, and it wasdiscovered that when called was founded, a grove of Oaks had implanted to replacethe beams in the dining hall when they when they become rotten, because oakbeams always become rotten in the end. This plan has then been passed downfrom one forester to the next for over for over five hundred years. Andat the same time, couple of centuries later actually, most of the Europeanforest were depleted. But Hey, at least we know that the steed ofsustainability had been planted. As you said, translating science into policy is taking alot of time in the case of climate change. The European Union,however, seems to acknowledge this urgency. So the green new deal is EuropeanUnions ambitious policy framework through which sustainability is addressed from all sides, from economyto the environment. What is the situation with the green new deal now?Is it affected by the COVID nineteen crisis, and how could the green new dealcontribute to the Post covid economic recovery? The latest addition of the Economist aswe recording this on the twenty five of May, which is done inlads to, used to be in socialist Ugoslavia. Well, the latest additionof the economies came out a few days ago and on the cover the messageis seize the moment. In other words, the looming economic crisis will provide anopportunity to rebuild the economy. And...

...when you rebuilding a house you canintroduce different new measures, for example new planning systems or energy efficiency measures orheat pumps for flow heating, and so on, and there are many waysto insert sustainability elements or create sustainability checks and balances if you wish. Forexample, governments loans to businesses could incorporate sustainability criteria. Green energy development couldbe a chance to reduce unemployment, for example. Green new deal is asa broad framework for a just transition to a climate neutral, sustainable economy,is a very ambitious project. It remains to be seen what kind of impactit will have and will it spark such a transition in the EU neighborhoods,which I think is very important, with measures such as Carbon Board at taxesor perhaps some other mechanisms, such as financial ones. I always wanted totransform my yard into a loil garden full of organic fruits and Veggies, butthere was never a perfect moment to start, just to learn more about when isthe right time to plant those tomatoes, or how much water in the cucumbersneed, or how to prepare the soil for those watermelons. Excuses,excuses in more excuses, until one day nature decided to give me a greatbig lesson. You are never ready enough. I will not forget that may oftwo thousand and fourteen Serbia battle the flood disaster that y are that plannedand transform me into a little garden was completely flooded and the whole neighborhood suffergefrom this major catastrophe. We falter this...

...together, only to learn that wewill never be prepared enough to face naturally disasters. I work with the HighnebowFoundation and we work a lot with rest foundation on climate policy related issues.We commonly come back to a very basic principle. You cannot manage what youdon't measure. We need to measure and analyze first. For example, lookat air pollution. A huge percentage of the measuring stations do not work.We need to have a solid databasis and then we can discuss solutions. Iwould say that a number one priorities. Proper data and proper analysis, definitely, and secondly, in order to achieve a systemic change, we need astrategy. EU, as a strategic goal, should provide a broad framework for improvingthe State of the environs. Element and the energy community should serve asa stepping stone on this path. But a clear strategy that will be developedfrom the inside is what's lacking, and this strategy needs to be developed byback casting, not forecasting, and I'll give you an example urban mobility.In order to have cleaner, more functioning cities with less cars, we cannotforecast how much parking spaces and roads we need because, and empirical evidence ispretty convincing, you can never have enough cars and parking spaces. So whata city needs is a vision. What kind of mobility do we wish tohave in say, twenty years time?...

How many car journeys, what percentageof bicycle uses, etc? And then we need a strategy. How dowe get there within the given time frame? That is not the way that spatialplanning works in Belgrade, for example, and the effects can be felt bycitizens jammed in their cars every day. Same is a Serbia and and neighboringcountries. On a broader scale, there has to be a vision ofan energy sector not based on Brown call of the lowest possible quality. Thenthere has to be a strategy. So far we haven't seen a vision.There is just the framework of you integration, which gives guidance, the Paris Agreementas well, of course, but the region has to come from theinside and the strategy has to come in partnership with European partners. This transformationneeds to be a wholesome transformation, associate ecological one. We need a transformationin everything, from flood defenses we need the transformation in agriculture and an overalleconomy. Different successful solution exists all over Europe, and it's just about findingthe right mix of policies and implementing them, implementing them persistently and then evaluating themand and adjusting where needed. Apparently, our reality and the problems we arefacing in the region are much more basic. So let's take an exampleof the floodings in two thousand and fourteen, which heavily affected Serbia and Bosnia.We have missed the momentum to turn that crisis into new policy development forbuilding climate resilient society. That is an excellent example. Rebuilding after a crisisgives us an opportunity to to rebuild in a different way. Developments after thedevastating floods into thousand and fourteen did not lead to a green new deal inthe Weston Bulkans, unfortunately, as we...

...had previously discussed. I believe weought to seize the moment and, after all, a fossil fuel based energyis produced, distributed and charged almost entirely by public enterprises and should serve thepublic interest. However, this is not the case. By openly or indirectlysupporting fossil fuels, public authorities and the publicly owned companies reproduce the economic statusquo. Now that status quo is so heavily disturbed, perhaps we will getthe chance to green the rebuilding of the economy. What we in the regionneed generally, and not just in relation to the crisis, is a verygood institute which is called for evidence. Before designing a policy of any sort, we have to see which solutions exist, which worked and so on. Thenwe need to adopt a policy based on this call and then wait forit. Now comes the fun bit. Evaluate and adapt the policies were needed. For example, we could start by monetizing the externalities of the existing callbased energy systems. Let's see how much it would all cost, even themost expensive solutions, even the best available technology. We're still throwing around unfoundedarguments, such as if we don't use call, we will have to useexpensive imported electricity, instead of looking at the data, while the decision makersin this region apparently keep their heads buried in coal in the face of theclimate crisis. There are some good examples of local and regional initiatives that doput sustainable development into practice. What are some good examples that we already havein our neighborhood? We often look at the German example of energy transition,although there are many other ones in Europe...

...which are not as branded, ifyou wish. The most fabulous thing about the German and a given, isthe percentage of citizens initiatives and citizens becoming not only consumers of renewable energy butalso produces, citizens becoming prosumers. Now, similar things are happening in the regionand we are witnessing a certain development in Croatia and in other places aswell, including Serbia. Island of Kirk is a fabulous example. Their visionis an energy independent island and they're on a good path of achieving it throughenergy cooperative. We in Belgrade are working with a promising newly formed energy cooperativeand and we're very hopeful about this as finally, what is your key takefrom this episode for lighting up our listeners? We are living the hard lessons learnedby many cities, many countries, many societies before us. We cantry and leap frog avoid the mistakes made by others, fusing futures light themup. Is Belgrade open schools audio podcast. Bosh Alumni, Damond Buguno, whichguardian a boy and each Yelena shop, each and myself, orgnum plantage,took part in making this episode. Alex Arachich and markommity rich supported usby designing the sound and audio effects. If you enjoy this episode, pleasedo not forget to click subscribe at the apple podcast or any other application youused to listen to podcasts. For more...

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