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Home » Naomi Klein on the role of civil society and the need to pressure our leaders

Naomi Klein on the role of civil society and the need to pressure our leaders

Nick Breeze

Nick Breeze

Climate journalist and host of the ClimateGenn podcast.

Activist and author, Naomi Klein, is speaking here at a side event during the COP21 in Paris (Dec ’15), about some key issues that are defining the challenges of our age:

  1. Climate science must be taken seriously by policymakers and investors when making decisions on behalf of, or that affect civil society.
  2. An event like the UNFCCC COP21 should not be seen as a “success” and “failure” rhetoric, and don’t use these events for political legacy building. Instead focus on the need to make progress towards solving the worlds problems.
  3. “When we abdicate power, that is when we get ourselves into trouble.” In other words, Klein is reminding the public and especially those involved in the growing climate change movement, to redouble our efforts in pressuring those who are elected to serve us. We cannot be defined by their own efforts, or lack of, but must speak up and let our leaders know we are watching and responding.

Where Naomi Klein & James Hansen (seated) differ:

Klein also makes several references to former NASA scientist and climate activist legend, James Hansen, who is seated in the first row. Hansen, like Klein has been arrested for ‘civil disobedience’  taking part in climate change demonstrations. What played out during the COP was a large difference of views between Klein and Hansen on the subject of 100% renewables and the necessity to scale up nuclear power.

Press Conference Excerpt: Hansen, Wigley, Emanuel, Caldeira:

Hansen sat on a press conference panel at Le Bourget [see movie clip below] calling for a massive scaling up and implementation of nuclear power in the drive to reduce carbon emissions and “keep the lights on” in the developed and developing world. The panel consisted of Dr James Hansen, Dr Tom Wigley, Professor Kerry Emanuel and Dr Ken Caldeira, all very renowned and respected climate change scientists.

Klein references here the ‘100% renewable plan’ put forward by Stanford scientist, Professor Mark Jacobson (view here: The plan proposes a roadmap to a 100% renewable (clean) energy future, however, during the press conference cited above, Hansen is among those scientists saying that renewables on their own cannot deliver the clean and equitable future for all that we want.

Nuclear issue

The energy aspect of climate change is the most contentious as it directly influences the way we live. Those of us in the developed world enjoy the benefits and those in the developing world need more energy to lift them out of poverty and provide better lives.

With Fukushima fresh in the minds of many and a historic hysteria surrounding the subject of nuclear energy development, many people the world over simply do not understand who is right and who is wrong. 

The scientists here are arguing that new nuclear technology is safe enough and has the capacity to transition us to a lower carbon society faster. If this is the case then we need to hear more about it and with a fair and honest SWOT analysis to accompany it.

If 2ºC wasn’t hard enough… bring on 1.5ºC

I’ll be posting again on the 1.5ºC boundary that was the big news coming out of Paris. According to many scientists, the 2ºC window has closed already and 1.5ºC is a case of false hope to deflect attention away from the business as usual (BAU) activities of the developed nations.

If we want to take this 1.5ºC moral obligation seriously then we need to know the right path for society to be advancing down, and fast!

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