14 September, 2008
Last week, two interesting surveys confirmed that citizens are worried about climate change but once they start acting as consumers others have to shoulder the bill. Especially young people are not willing to make lifestyle sacrifices.
On Thursday 11 September, EU Commissioners Wallström and Dimas excelled in spinning the latest Eurobarometer on climate change. Although the survey showed a lot of depressing results, they managed to sell to the media their message that EU citizens support the Commission’s “ambitious” climate-energy” policy. “Strong public support for EU targets on climate change” was the jubilant title of the Commission’s press release. Of course, they had to acknowledge that “a significant proportion of people feel poorly informed” about the issue. Does this mean that they are willing to admit that their million-euro “You control climate change” campaign has been a failure?
Most Europeans think the climate change crisis can be solved but are not ready to pay too much for it. They feel that it is not for them but for governments, companies and industries to shoulder the costs of tackling the problem. Can we expect a different attitude when governments as well as green NGOs still lack the courage to tell our citizens the full truth (that the era of cheap fossil-fuel-based abundance is coming to an end and that therefore the party is over)?
The IPod/XBox-generation of 17- to 24-year olds will have an even more difficult time dealing with this new age of scarcity. According to a recent survey by market researcher TNS and Shell, these young people still aspire to the old sixties aspirations (“we want the world and we want it now” – The Doors). They still want a great job, a big house, worldwide travel and “flying cars”. I hardly dare to imagine how this last “abundance” generation is going to react once the climate/energy catastrophes really kick in and what this will mean for our fragile democracies which are already cracking up under the stress of lacking political legitimacy?Author : Willy De Backer