Article, Global

Disease symptoms of our climate are underestimated

06.12.2021, Climate justice

The significance of the climate crisis and its effects on the planet and us humans are still underestimated, despite science and extreme weather. Above all, decisive action is lacking in politics.

Disease symptoms of our climate are underestimated
Bernd Nilles, President of Alliance Sud and Director of Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund
© Fastenopfer

Already in 1989 Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund used a poster campaign to highlight the hazards of climate change; but for 30 years only tiny steps were taken and global greenhouse gas emissions continued to rise. Today, there is consensus in the scientific community that we are already in a climate crisis that is having catastrophic consequences for a growing number of people, around the world, and here at home. Despite the science and the extremes of weather, the significance of the climate crisis and its implications for the planet and us humans is still being underestimated by the public. Most of all, there is a lack of decisive action on the part of politicians: even a climate summit like the one in Glasgow can accomplish only as much as the 190 national governments, including Switzerland, are willing to put on the table.

At COP26, Federal President Guy Parmelin rightly asserted that too little was being done. What he did not say was that rich countries like Switzerland in particular are shirking their responsibilities. That is why it is incumbent on us to keep insisting that the climate crisis is already a reality. In Africa, Asia and Latin America, people are grappling with floods and droughts stemming largely from the climate crisis. For them, it is a matter of survival. And in Switzerland too, the climate crisis is becoming ever more manifest.

This makes it all the more crucial for nongovernmental organizations, churches and the media also give a voice in Switzerland’s politics to the world's most vulnerable population groups. But for the past year, this would seem to be just what several "liberal" politicians have been striving to prevent through their attempts at intimidation in the wake of the Responsible Business Initiative. And how is it possible in parliamentary committees for some politicians who otherwise seize every opportunity to argue against bureaucracy and regulation, to support a motion by Council of States member Ruedi Noser, which, in bureaucratic terms, could hardly be more burdensome? A move to scrutinize all non-profit organizations for their political activity and to threaten to revoke their tax exempt status is nothing short of compounding the stark imbalance in our society.

Alliance Sud will continue to do the utmost to ensure that policy does not remain merely a matter of money and party political affiliation. The popular majority support for the Responsible Business Initiative a year ago is clear evidence that citizens want a Switzerland where politics and business do not serve only national and financial interests. For in many instances, these interests also hamper good climate policy. My wish for the New Year is that we pay serious attention to our world’s symptoms, prioritise people and the environment, and finally take decisive action.

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