The new cabinet is expected to take a host of relatively inexpensive small steps to tackle the climate problem. These send society to a tipping point, where the transition to a sustainable lifestyle is much faster. A call for such ‘social tipping pointstrategy ”, signed by dozens of organizations, artists and scientists, can be found today in the letterbox of informant Mariëtte Hamer.
Urgenda, Fossielvrij NL, the DRIFT research institute, Fridays for Future and Teachers for Climate, among others, are behind this, in addition to dozens of other organizations. The list of around eighty includes former CEO Peter Blom of Triodos Bank, actors Waldemar Torenstra and Thekla Reuten, composer Merlijn Twaalfhoven, professors Vellinga, Piersma, Opschoor and Van den Dobbelsteen and writers Ramsey Nasr , Hanna Bervoets and Maria Goos.
Take Biden as an example
For “an integrated strategic climate policy,” the Netherlands can take an example of US President Joe Biden’s plans, the letter to Hamer said. Biden has involved the social Sunrise Movement in its climate policy and now wants to end fossil fuel subsidies and use that money to help citizens, businesses and organizations become more sustainable. The Netherlands should also follow this path, according to the Social Tipping Point Coalition. We call on the new cabinet to embrace – within the framework of the new culture of governance and the organization of an indispensable counter-power – citizen movements and progressive forces of civil society as a vital element of democracy , as a vital part of achieving the Paris Goal, ”the letter reads. Informant Hamer has announced that he would like to discuss the major substantive issues first.
The idea of a social tipping point strategy is based on scientific research into changes in society. Once a movement gains more mass, it is contagious and change accelerates, according to a recent study by the German Institute in Potsdam. All kinds of ingredients for such an acceleration are already there, according to the letter to Hamer. The rise of student strikes, for example, the growing call for pension funds to ban fossil fuels and the Amsterdam municipality’s decision to ban ads for fuel-hungry SUVs and cheap flights. For example, this last relatively modest measure has attracted the interest of cities around the world. The artists are also trying to raise climate awareness with theater, visual arts or poems.
Give the dynamics a big swing
These types of phenomena today are often distinct actions of society and science. The government can, with a relatively simple policy that does not require new technologies, provide a big boost, thinks the Social Tipping Point Coalition. For example, by removing (indirect) subsidies on fossil fuels, by introducing mandatory climate labels on products, by stimulating citizens’ initiatives for clean energy, by taking over from the advertising ban and by teaching more climate change in schools.
According to the Potsdam Institute, such an accumulation of measures has a self-reinforcing effect and changes thinking more quickly on fossil and polluting production. This is necessary because climate change is also accelerating. The same institute has previously conducted research on the physical turning points of climate. The melting of the ice caps is one example. Once passed a certain point, there is no way to stop it and the melting causes an irreversible and faster heating of the atmosphere.
Social turning points can ensure that society stays ahead of the physical. But then the government must take the right measures, warns the institute. For example, if the government maintains fossil subsidies, the effect of societal pressure on pension funds to disengage from polluting fuels could evaporate. On the other hand, if the policy is in line with the forces below, the steering wheel may start to turn, according to the coalition.
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