The CO₂ emission has increased by 80% worldwide since the 1970s. Our growth and increasing consumption are closely linked to fossil energy consumption. We are causing more and more damage to nature than our economy grows! The life we lead is far too muchat the expense of our environment. We behave towards the earth like a private household that permanently lives beyond its means and is still surprised that electricity, gas and water are gradually being cut off because its debts continue to increase. Creating incentives is of course a good thing, but it doesn't do enough. Because sensible restrictions are far more effective, even if they are unpopular. The damage caused by greenhouse gas emission is currently not priced into products in any way, because our consumption and its pricing merely follow the market economy laws of supply and demand. However, climate protection means that every consumption must be quantified with its actual price, according to the polluter-pays principle. This should include not only the cost of human production conditions and fair remuneration, but also the realistic price for the ecological production of things. The common good, before selfish particular interests, is the motto. We must make climate protection a priority. Again, maximum justice as the ultimate goal, right behind that of averting climate collapse.
Climate-damaging behavior must become more expensive. Why are we able to fly through Europe for 10,- € and how can it be that money is earned with it? If you consider that we already pay 30,- € and more per day for parking at the airport, it seems that in view of the advanced world climate problem in this calculation something is going thoroughly wrong.
At present, four factors are largely undisputed:
There are hardly any viable alternatives for limiting or rationing our emission. Appeals to citizens to limit themselves do not work. The actual potential for saving emissions through new innovative technical solutions, in the areas of energy generation and resources, for the protection of the environment, is very quickly cancelled out by constant growth and the associated increase in global consumption and energy consumption. Air travel and other climate-damaging consumption make it more expensive, no matter what, and none of this will bring about any significant change in consumer behavior. When cigarettes gradually became more expensive over the years, hardly anyone gave up smoking because of this. Raising the price of air travel or the tax on SUVs a little bit, making rail travel a little cheaper - in other words, punishing climate-damaging behavior and rewarding climate-friendly behavior - all sounds good. But realistically speaking, the effect of such minimally invasive measures is limited, unfortunately only to a few minor symbolic effects. Moreover, simply levying a tax on emission would by no means automatically and reliably limit the amount of greenhouse gas emissions. After all, if you make something more expensive, it does not necessarily reduce consumption. It simply means that consumption costs more money. It would remain completely unclear whether the required reduction could be implemented in this way. The steering effect would therefore be rather incalculable and limited. What we need in view of the impending dangers of climate change is rapid, decisive and, above all, effective action.
A major movement must finally get underway. The world faces a task of the century. But we have by far no 100 years to do it. Now you might remark that climate protection measures would hardly be effective only at European level. Correct! Climate change is a global problem and does not stop at national borders. Nevertheless, we should put our own house in order first. The EU should lead the way in a strong alliance, allied with as many other countries as possible, and try to involve other countries through diplomatic channels. Because the bigger the starting alliance, the greater the pressure on those who are still blocking it to act. Moreover, economically strong industrial nations such as Germany should send out a strong signal and take the lead internationally to show how an energy turnaround can be achieved.
It is far too easy to be an environmental pig - even for relatively small purses. Our conventional money alone is not enough to reflect the strain on ecosystems caused by our consumption. That is why we urgently need another quantification system, a complementary carbon currency - the ECO, for example. Because there are many products in our modern consumer society that can be produced economically very cheaply and are therefore sold cheaply, but whose production or operation involves high ecological costs for the environment. Cruises and air travel, some of which go halfway around the globe, have become irresponsibly cheap and energy-insane and climate-damaging. And the "cheap" steak from factory farming combines two don'ts at once: On the one hand, the worldwide mass production of meat is responsible for a considerable part of the methane emission, and on the other hand, our demand for more and more and cheaper meat is no less reprehensible. For in this way we as consumers contribute decisively to the disastrous conditions under which our so-called "farm animals" are kept.
Now, of course, one could stand up and say that politics should first force industry to become more environmentally friendly. But there is one thing we should not forget: The actual polluters of greenhouse gas are not the Dyckerhoff company or RWE, from whose chimneys the emissions come, but Mr. Meier and Mrs. Schmidt. Hardly any industry produces for its own ends, but rather according to the needs of all of us. A power plant operator simply satisfies our need for cheap (coal) electricity. And we just want to go on holiday as cheaply as possible. We also like to order the delicious beef from Argentina and the South African Cabernet Sauvignon in the restaurant. We prefer to do without the expensive but sensible energetic building renovation, if it is not financially worthwhile for us personally. When a cruise ship leaves, it is not because the shipping company enjoys it, but only because 2.500 people have bought a ticket for this trip before. And the ship is operated with the cheapest heavy oil available, because we book the trip with the provider who
offers us the week Canary Islands for 800 euros. Also, Samsung does not produce this myriad of electronic devices out of boredom, but because we buy them. The total CO2 output of each production process and each service can be traced back to all our consumption and broken down per capita. The advantage of climate trade, which is broken down to the smallest unit on the market, i.e. the end consumer, lies in the enormously fast control potential for the environmental compatibility of the industry's production processes, due to the adapting purchasing behaviour of the large mass of consumers. This is not nearly as effective and efficient as urgently needed in the currently established climate trade, which takes place exclusively between countries and large industrial sectors. The limitation of various climate-damaging consumer habits would only have to continue until new innovative technologies have replaced the old emission-intensive ones. And that would happen very quickly because of the immense pressure from consumers.
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