At the start of the climate council: "We have to rebuild society"

DELIVERY MAN: Professor, you will bring the climate crisis closer to the 100 citizens. What are you going to tell?

Georg Kaser: There is a good basis with the sixth status report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change from 2021. We already have 1.2°C of warming compared to pre-industrial times and need to understand the colossal amounts of energy behind it. And that we now have a very good understanding of the link between greenhouse gases and rising temperatures, and that we need to get those emissions to zero as soon as possible.

But the states have already started with climate protection, is that a step in the right direction?

The measures taken so far are far from sufficient to achieve the climate target. Just readjusting something is not enough. We have to rebuild society, otherwise we as humanity are in danger of losing the game. That would be nothing less than the end of our civilization.

Don’t they think that such statements are considered radical?

The probability that the earth will enter a completely altered energetic state increases with every tenth of a degree of warming. Then things will happen that will no longer make life on earth as we imagine it possible. Our entire civilization will be affected, a situation that will deprive hundreds of millions of people of their livelihoods.

Aren’t you afraid that this will come as a shock to some citizens?

I’m not afraid. We’ve all experienced some extreme weather events in the meantime, but there’s hardly a week that doesn’t have to be reported on. But yes, we would like to avoid a shock as well as a state of shock, but we have to talk plainly to the people. And then it will be a question of the discourse in the climate council that everyone can find their way around.

Does it bother you that so few know the basics and the status quo?

No, I’m not angry with anyone if you don’t know that much about it and therefore don’t recognize the drama and seriousness. The only thing I don’t understand is the decision-makers in politics and business. Because they have understood what it is about, but are trapped in their structures and possibilities. And so have failed for 20, 30 years to address and prepare for the need to move away from fossil fuels and reduce our energy consumption.

The counter-argument is that Austria is only responsible for 0.2 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, so it almost doesn’t matter what Austria does.

The argument would only be correct if we didn’t consume or import anything, nothing from China or other low-wage countries, only then would the number be correct. So it’s also about the so-called gray emissions that we take in. This means that our ecological footprint is many times higher.

Bill Gates says the climate crisis is the greatest challenge in human history, is he right?

Yes, I think you can put it that way.

Do you think that we as a society have not or not yet understood something about the climate crisis?

Understanding is one thing, comprehending something else. It is clear to me that it is difficult to fundamentally rethink, change and redesign the entire attitude towards life, action and business. These are all immensely difficult decisions. But we will not get around this.

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