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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 that the world regrouped and responded to the covid nineteen crisis, it got me thinking about all the other challenges were facing, but not responding to them in such an agile manner. Using US, using futures. Light them up, using futures, using futures them up, fusing futures, light them up. Let's take climate change, for example, or, as I prefer, the climate crisis. How do we go about this one? This is the topic of this episode of our fusing futures podcast. I'm delighted to welcome a fellow member of the Bosch Alumni Network, Mr Diamond Bun which, who is working as Environment Program Coordinator at Hundred Bell Stiff Tung Belgrade office. We woke up in a 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 countries did, at least, and adjusted accordingly as fast as possible. The climate crisis, as you've said, or climate emergency, was put aside even the cop the annual UN Climate Summit that was supposed to happen in the UK, as you know, later this year, was postponed. Covid nineteen was deemed a much greater emergency. COVID nineteen crisis and climate change are apparently very much connected, at least with this narrative that...

...has emerged, the narrative of nature's revival or even the nature striking back to humans. Although the news of Nature's healing at the face of decreasing of human activities are pleasant, I must admit that I find this narrative troublesome and annoying. So can you tell me a little bit 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 and related topics? The renewing of nature, or nature's revival is, in my viewing, lack of a better word, quite a naive narrative. The underlying idea is correct. Human activity is disturbing the balance in our planetary ecosystems and we're close to a point of no return, or rather a point in which the science at our disposal has no clear answers on what might happen, such as the case of the planet warming more than two degrees Celsius science cannot tell us with precision what will happen then. There are too many variables in the climate system. Now, the underlying ideas correct. Our ecosystems are often out of balance, but this idea that nature is somehow fighting back in a mystical way 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 to see that we don't need to travel as much for business? Did we really not know that we need less cars on the streets and and more public transport and cycling lanes and pedestrian zones? anyways, now that we have suddenly realized and this rush of clean, unpolluted air has mystically appeared, the question is what we do about it? Can we think of ways of living in harmony with the environment, if you wish? You already mentioned the response to the COVID nineteen crisis. So what is different...

...here to the way that we approach the 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 crisis and the climate change crisis. For example, much has been said about the disproportionate effect that the pandemic has had on the vulnerable communities. Similar to the HIV pandemic in the United States, for example, the African American communities with disproportionately affected. We can only read a bit about what is going on with the informal settlements and Roman communities in the region. I would also say that there are some very important parallels with regards to knowledge production and this science policy interface. More broadly, I was very much struck by the by the speed with which science was translated into policy when it comes to Covid ninetteen. When it comes to climate change, we have the science, but translating science into policies and implementing these policies is the problem. We often talk about evidence based decisionmaking processes and and bulged open school works on this as well. In the case of covid nineteen pandemic, the crisis was immediately recognized as a crisis by most 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 did not know nearly enough about the virus, but our countries took all the precortionary measures. When it comes to environmental problems and climate emergency, this is not the case and I think perhaps short termism is a problem. We cannot see past the first quarter if we are a corporation, or a four to five year period in case of a democratically elected government. Perhaps that is something they're in 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 is one of the oldest stocks but colleges. It has, like other colleges, a great dining hall with huge oak beams across the top, and it was discovered that when called was founded, a grove of Oaks had implanted to replace the beams in the dining hall when they when they become rotten, because oak beams always become rotten in the end. This plan has then been passed down from one forester to the next for over for over five hundred years. And at the same time, couple of centuries later actually, most of the European forest were depleted. But Hey, at least we know that the steed of sustainability had been planted. As you said, translating science into policy is taking a lot of time in the case of climate change. The European Union, however, seems to acknowledge this urgency. So the green new deal is European Unions ambitious policy framework through which sustainability is addressed from all sides, from economy to 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 deal contribute to the Post covid economic recovery? The latest addition of the Economist as we recording this on the twenty five of May, which is done in lads to, used to be in socialist Ugoslavia. Well, the latest addition of the economies came out a few days ago and on the cover the message is seize the moment. In other words, the looming economic crisis will provide an opportunity to rebuild the economy. And...

...when you rebuilding a house you can introduce different new measures, for example new planning systems or energy efficiency measures or heat pumps for flow heating, and so on, and there are many ways to insert sustainability elements or create sustainability checks and balances if you wish. For example, governments loans to businesses could incorporate sustainability criteria. Green energy development could be a chance to reduce unemployment, for example. Green new deal is as a 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 impact it 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 taxes or perhaps some other mechanisms, such as financial ones. I always wanted to transform my yard into a loil garden full of organic fruits and Veggies, but there was never a perfect moment to start, just to learn more about when is the right time to plant those tomatoes, or how much water in the cucumbers need, or how to prepare the soil for those watermelons. Excuses, excuses in more excuses, until one day nature decided to give me a great big lesson. You are never ready enough. I will not forget that may of two thousand and fourteen Serbia battle the flood disaster that y are that planned and transform me into a little garden was completely flooded and the whole neighborhood sufferge from this major catastrophe. We falter this...

...together, only to learn that we will never be prepared enough to face naturally disasters. I work with the Highnebow Foundation 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 you don't measure. We need to measure and analyze first. For example, look at 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. I would say that a number one priorities. Proper data and proper analysis, definitely, and secondly, in order to achieve a systemic change, we need a strategy. EU, as a strategic goal, should provide a broad framework for improving the State of the environs. Element and the energy community should serve as a stepping stone on this path. But a clear strategy that will be developed from the inside is what's lacking, and this strategy needs to be developed by back casting, not forecasting, and I'll give you an example urban mobility. In order to have cleaner, more functioning cities with less cars, we cannot forecast how much parking spaces and roads we need because, and empirical evidence is pretty convincing, you can never have enough cars and parking spaces. So what a city needs is a vision. What kind of mobility do we wish to have in say, twenty years time?...

How many car journeys, what percentage of bicycle uses, etc? And then we need a strategy. How do we get there within the given time frame? That is not the way that spatial planning works in Belgrade, for example, and the effects can be felt by citizens jammed in their cars every day. Same is a Serbia and and neighboring countries. On a broader scale, there has to be a vision of an energy sector not based on Brown call of the lowest possible quality. Then there 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 Agreement as well, of course, but the region has to come from the inside and the strategy has to come in partnership with European partners. This transformation needs to be a wholesome transformation, associate ecological one. We need a transformation in everything, from flood defenses we need the transformation in agriculture and an overall economy. Different successful solution exists all over Europe, and it's just about finding the right mix of policies and implementing them, implementing them persistently and then evaluating them and and adjusting where needed. Apparently, our reality and the problems we are facing in the region are much more basic. So let's take an example of 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 for building climate resilient society. That is an excellent example. Rebuilding after a crisis gives us an opportunity to to rebuild in a different way. Developments after the devastating floods into thousand and fourteen did not lead to a green new deal in the Weston Bulkans, unfortunately, as we...

...had previously discussed. I believe we ought to seize the moment and, after all, a fossil fuel based energy is produced, distributed and charged almost entirely by public enterprises and should serve the public interest. However, this is not the case. By openly or indirectly supporting fossil fuels, public authorities and the publicly owned companies reproduce the economic status quo. Now that status quo is so heavily disturbed, perhaps we will get the chance to green the rebuilding of the economy. What we in the region need generally, and not just in relation to the crisis, is a very good 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. Then we need to adopt a policy based on this call and then wait for it. Now comes the fun bit. Evaluate and adapt the policies were needed. For example, we could start by monetizing the externalities of the existing call based energy systems. Let's see how much it would all cost, even the most expensive solutions, even the best available technology. We're still throwing around unfounded arguments, such as if we don't use call, we will have to use expensive imported electricity, instead of looking at the data, while the decision makers in this region apparently keep their heads buried in coal in the face of the climate crisis. There are some good examples of local and regional initiatives that do put sustainable development into practice. What are some good examples that we already have in 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, if you wish. The most fabulous thing about the German and a given, is the percentage of citizens initiatives and citizens becoming not only consumers of renewable energy but also produces, citizens becoming prosumers. Now, similar things are happening in the region and we are witnessing a certain development in Croatia and in other places as well, including Serbia. Island of Kirk is a fabulous example. Their vision is an energy independent island and they're on a good path of achieving it through energy cooperative. We in Belgrade are working with a promising newly formed energy cooperative and and we're very hopeful about this as finally, what is your key take from this episode for lighting up our listeners? We are living the hard lessons learned by many cities, many countries, many societies before us. We can try and leap frog avoid the mistakes made by others, fusing futures light them up. Is Belgrade open schools audio podcast. Bosh Alumni, Damond Buguno, which guardian a boy and each Yelena shop, each and myself, orgnum plantage, took part in making this episode. Alex Arachich and markommity rich supported us by designing the sound and audio effects. If you enjoy this episode, please do not forget to click subscribe at the apple podcast or any other application you used to listen to podcasts. For more...

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