Road to COP21, The Climate Nerd Chronicles

What does it mean to be a « climate hero »?

This article is part of the Climate Nerd Chronicles.

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As Marvel and DC fight over supremacy in the superhero movie world, Avaaz just launched a campaign arguing for Angela Merkel to be the climate hero the world needs.


What do you need to make a good superhero movie?

A powerful hero –or a bunch of them–, a couple of supervillains, full of bad intentions, and most importantly, a terrible threat. Today, our movie featured 7 characters, the members of G7. This might not seem really superhero material but sometimes appearances can be quite misleading. Let’s follow Avaaz  reasoning and take a look at it through the superhero lens. What is at stake? The G7 has to announce the deadline for a decarbonized world. This is kind of the big deal, and this could have major impacts for mankind. Terrible threat, check. Our would-be superhero is German Chancellor Angela Merkel. While both DC and Marvel have cold feet about launching their first female-lead movie, this super-lady has led Germany for almost 10 years. As a 3-times-elected ruler, she is also considered as the most prominent political personality in Europe and the most powerful woman in the world. Quite the badass, isn’t she? Climate Hero, check. And what about the villains? We have the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, both responsible for their countries’ withdrawal of the Kyoto Protocol. The first has recently announced a renewed interest for fossil energies, getting the fossil award from the Climate Action Network (CAN)  last week for “doing the most to block progress on climate action” while the second is a well-known climate change denier. So here we check the super villains.

As in any good super hero story, we need a good side-kick. And Merkel can count on the French president François Hollande, who has committed to organize COP21 at the end of 2015, and would definitely need a serious agreement to increase his popularity in his country. The positions of the three last players, Barack Obama for the US, David Cameron for the UK and Matteo Renzi for Italy are not as clear as the others but they seem to be more disposed to heroism than villainess.

Today’s battle finished with some points for both sides. Yes, the final statement talks about global decarbonization, but not before 2100. Yes, they agreed “to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions at the upper end of a range of 40% to 70% by 2050, using 2010 as the baseline”, but first, this is not so ambitious, and second, where are the binding commitments? G7 have a big part of the historical emissions and they should be one to set a green example for the rest of the world. This bitter-sweet ending does not really look like the happy ending of our favorite superhero movie.

So, what does it mean to be a “climate hero”?

Here we want Angela Merkel to lead the fight and find the solution. In superhero movies, the heroes find the solution by themselves. It would seem nice to have one person able to solve climate change alone, or with a bunch of side-kicks. Let’s take a closer look at the well-known super heroes and try to imagine a way for them to stop climate change. Seriously, what does superman can do in face of such a big problem? Superspeed, the power to fly, supersonic eyes… not really useful, right? Let’s face it: neither the Justice League nor the Avengers have the power to face climate change. They are good at fighting evil enemies, sure, but they cannot stop people from emitting carbon in the atmosphere. Indeed, superheroes fight supervillains who have the same sort of powers as them. To fight climate change, we need to find someone with the same sort of powers than the people who cause climate change.

Who are they, those almighty evil beings, able to create climate change?

That would be all of us, mankind as a whole. We cannot expect Angela Merkel to be the climate hero. Yes, she can be a climate hero, but so can you. There won’t be one superhero to save the world from climate change. We created the problem together, and we can only solve it together.

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