My first session at COY was on “Taking Actions and Empowering Others”. I have always been curious about how exactly are climate actions taken in different places, and the session I attended did clarify my questions. The speaker for “Taking Actions and Empowering Others” was Dr. Dietmar Kress, the director of active support for Greenpeace Deutschland.
He started the session with a striking (and catchy) quote, “the problem is that the problems are problematic,” and stated that that is why it is difficult to use an optimistic way to talk about it. His view might be pessimistic, but they are definitely realistic. Dr. Kress mentioned that the interconnected-ness of all the complex issues in the world can be explained through the Sustainable Development Goals.
An Overarching International Environment Treaty
Lamenting over the Earth Overshoot Day, he mentioned that the problem of international treaties is its application back in Germany. This problem was previously mentioned during our third training series on understanding the Malaysian Constitution, guess we can draw parallel on this issue between Germany and Malaysia. Considering there is already three United Nations treaty on the environment (the climate treaty, dessert treaty, and a water treaty), there is still a need for a treaty of a higher level. That is why currently Greenpeace Deutschland is pushing for an international environment treaty that is general and overarching. Dr. Kress agrees that there are many papers in existence that could be worked towards the international environment treaty, but was frustrated by the fact that many countries are against the idea of the overarching international treaty because they would then need to be accountable to it.
After covering the small part on Greenpeace Deutschland’s current policy work, he pulled up the result the organization had from a survey amongst youths on their views on environmentalism. It is optimistic to know that 92% of German youths are willing to be carbon neutral as long as they have the knowledge to do so. Speaking from experience, he mentioned that you only need 35% of the population to agree in order to change the status quo. That is why now Greenpeace Deutschland is looking at talking to the one-third of Germans who are willing to do something but don’t know how to do it. Dr. Kress was glad that sustainability is talked in German classroom because this helps in creating the awareness for their organization to work from.
Dr. Kress stresses that campaigns targeting youth need spontaneity and effectiveness because the youths care about their impact on the world, focusing on self-effectiveness. To organizations like Greenpeace Deutschland, this is a new culture of participation and cooperation. Dr. Kress mentioned that a campaign does not need to be successful in order to be effective.
Climate Change Displaced Persons
21.8 million people are refugees because of deteriorated environment condition whereas 6.6 million people are from violent conflicts. However, currently, most states do not recognize climate change displaced persons. Even Greenpeace Deutschland have a lot of problem in bringing up the issue to the right-wing party. However, Greenpeace is trying to bring this issue into public awareness, starting a “Disarmament and Climate” campaign in South Africa.
Greenpeace Deutschland has been working a lot on the ground to push the climate change awareness amongst Germans. It is an eye-opening experience to hear that it is hard to push the sustainable agenda in Germany, a country with a green image. I was surprised that even climate actions in Germany face many obstacles from the corporates. Hopefully, Greenpeace Deutschland can continue to influence the German public, and eventually the German government.
Written and Photos by Xiandi
Edited by Varun