Catastrophic flooding in Houston caused by Hurricane Harvey serves as a harrowing reminder to all of the urgent need to force down global greenhouse gas emissions. Every tonne of carbon dioxide released in the air causes the same amount of warming, no matter when and where it is emitted. A warmer atmosphere causes more water to evaporate from the oceans. In turn, the moist air traps even more heat and precipitates more intensely. We’re already halfway to the 2-degree Celsius warming threshold, which scientists say could dangerously and irreversibly destabilize the earth’s climate system. Extreme weather events are becoming the new normal, putting more than half of the world’s cities at risk. Deadly flooding in Mumbai, Niger and Houston, over the past week, offer a preview of more violent storms to come.
Yet governments and carbon-intensive industries are neither acting nor planning accordingly. The Paris Climate Accord signed by nearly 200 nations has no teeth. It’s voluntary. There are no mandatory emission limits.
Getting off this path to surpassing the 2-degree limit involves rethinking and replacing the systems that produce, aggravate and accelerate climate and environmental breakdown, ensuing forced migration and soaring inequality. This entails engineering broad, sweeping solutions that simultaneously drive down emissions, wean the economy off fossil fuels, massively ramp up green investment, maximize the use of renewables, minimize total energy use, make politics and decision-making open, transparent and democratic, guarantee a living income, and expand pro-climate sectors of the economy, including education, healthcare and the arts. These crisscrossing goals lie at the core of DiEM25’s Progressive Agenda for Europe. Given the diminishing window for action, our movement, barely a year and a half old, is gearing up for delivery.
Join us. Your skill and energy are needed now more than ever.
Orla de Díez is a member of DiEM25’s Coordinating Collective.
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