This article was originally published on l’Usine à Gaz.
This article is written by Damien Soldadié.
« We only have one planet »
This is the main argument of Emmanuel Macron -speaking of evidence- to organize the One Planet Summit that took place in Paris this week. I was glad when I heard his introduction speech, when I saw the diversity of actors who made the engagement to take part to the transition. I truly hope that the French president still means what he said during his allocution.We are used to the promising speeches of our president, that hide a fiduciary truth, so we need to go deeper and look at what he did and plan to do in the future.
The ecological crisis is the most complex one that the humanity had to solve in its entire history and I am suspicious on the capacity of fixing that crisis with a « business-as-usual » policy. The problematics are so intricate that we need to think about it in a global way. When I heard the end of its allocution, I was shocked by the words he used and I saw this picture on his Instagram feed. It says « We need to win the fight against fatality so we can choose the planet we want instead of undergo it ». I hope I am not the only one who find this shocking. I am sad to see that it is always the same Descartes-like speeches where humans see themselves as the masters and the owners of the planet. If there is somebody who suffers and cannot choose, this is the enslaved non-humans, the affected populations and the Earth. Not us. Not yet.
This summit was organized in response to Donald Trump withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and UNFCCC, unfortunately, we missed the opportunity to make a more global, a more complex summit which could have took into account the biodiversity, the ocean, the desertification, the social problematics. One more time, we only keep talking about climate.
Besides this semantical -but important- discussion that maybe highlight what our president thinks, let’s analyze which national and international decisions he took. Indeed, if we want to solve the ecological crisis we need to motivate the individuals to change their comportements (bottom-up), but we also need to create the conditions for these changes to occur (top-down) : we need to create a dialog not an unilateral decision. Most of the individuals see the ecology as punitive as they cannot see the benefits of it because they do not meet the conditions for it. In a country that take a liberal path with the CETA, that break the working law to introduce precarious jobs and so on, it is hard to have a feeling of shared responsibility to counter climate change. These paradox can be found between the engagements of private actors in presence and their past and present actions.
The exactions of the actors of the One Planet Summit
Numerous entrepreneurs, CEOs, « philanthropists », personalities were put in the front of the scene of this summit, but are they faultless in the context of the Anthropocene. As Hervé Kempf underlines it in this debate on Public Sénat, Richard Branson (founder of Virgin) is partly responsible of the low-cost plane travels economic trend -civil plane trafic is imputable for 3% of CO2 emissions worldwide-. Bill Gates, owner and founder of Microsoft, this company is implicated in numerous exactions against humanity and ecology. The coltan problematic for example : children from developing countries have to work in mines, in deplorable conditions, hectares of tropical forest are burnt to reveal coltan deposits and many species lost their habitats or killed in the process. We could make a similar list for the financial actors in presence who participate at this destructive, extractivist, productivist, consummerist process that we call « modernity » or « progress ». To sum up, they try to buy a consciousness thanks to a crisis which they maintain because it allows them to prosper. Instead of giving money to « solve » the crisis, they should rethink their extraction, production, recycling process. They must stop thinking about their own profit and start believe in this cause by stoping their exactions. There is no change of paradigm, just few fixs here and there.
Conclusion : the paradox within the One Planet Summit and a touch of hope
Is multilateralism dead ? We can legitimately ask this question as Donald Trump left the Paris Agreement by putting « America first » and endorse the « ennemi of climate » role. We already underline the paradox within this summit : rich private actors take action in the fight of a crisis they maintain for their own profit. Moreover, they will be the benefactors of the climate, by deciding which countries, which regions will be protected and which projects will be founded, according to their good will.
But there is a touch of hope in this event. Referring to the theory of the complexity and following the teachings of Edgar Morin, complex systems can resist to death by integrating it within itself -« life from death and death from life », Héraclite-. The private finance actors are integrated in the process, it is a reality, maybe they will be influenced but they can contaminate the movement. That is why we need to continue to denounce their exactions against environment and humanity, of these actors even if they take part in the fight. The trust will not be built in one day and will depend of their true actions.
About the author: Damien Soldadié joined CliMates 2 years ago and is Edgar Morin’s assistant, IT engineer and student in environmental sciences and policy. He is passionate about environmental policy and philosophy.