Being an entrepreneur I am not the most patient. I try to swiftly peel off the layers to get to the real issue, so I can solve it. Being bold and goal oriented, it is hard to follow the current climate debate without shaking my head in wonder. I am prepared to accept the complexity of the issue. And that there is no simple solution. But that politicians and business leaders come up with statements like ‘it should be of no cost to the people’ and ‘the market first has to be ready for it’, points to the problem – climate change – not being the central issue here, but self interest. Without blinking an eye, prime minister Rutte said on late night talk show Pauw that everyone should be able ‘to keep living’ with our climate policy – meaning that everyone should be able to keep doing exactly what we are doing now. How does that bring us any further? And who guarantees in that scenario that we are able to stop climate change in time? If one would play devil’s advocate, much needed, when we focus on the actual problem, it leaves us with only one conclusion.
Even though I very well understand the toxic dynamic of countries, businesses and power blocs looking at each other and thinking ‘Aren’t they making me pay too much’, for the sake of our climate we should free ourselves from this stranglehold. We should question putting economic growth over all else.
The current climate debate in The Netherlands does unfortunately not look like we will take leadership on this issue. Politicians slam the break constantly, citing that we should not march in front of the troops. And that we should give multinationals a break, because the climate won’t get any better should they take their polluting business elsewhere. To me it stands out that the fundamental question – do we want polluting industry as a country, considering the state of our planet? – is not being asked. It is even taboo. Because it could, oh dear, ‘cost jobs’. En to handle that, politicians should actually become creative. And have a vision for the future.
And they don’t.
When I found myself in an US bookstore not too long ago, I couldn’t help but noticing how many books on the shelves were devoted to threats to democracy. Books with alarming titles like ‘How democracies die’. I wonder what democracy is worth when we refuse to face urgent problems, are afraid to ask fundamental questions and simply deny that climate change is going to hurt the people? Isn’t appeasing the people part of that threat? When we want to look future generations straight in the eye, we have to stop playing climate hide-and-seek in 2019. Starting with our leaders.