In its original meaning of the Greek word κρίσις, a crisis is not just about a dramatic state of affairs, but also about judgment and choice. Gloom and decision are the two faces of the same coin. The current crisis is indeed leaving a heavy footprint on both nature and society. But it should also be viewed as a call for decisive action.
This past month has revealed serious challenges to the EU’s corpus of green policies and reluctance for truly sustainable ways out of the crisis.
The Multi-Annual Framework for the period 2014-2020 that received its final approval by the European Parliament is in essence an environmental and social austerity budget. In the UK, David Cameron’s administration is retreating from its promise “to lead the greenest government ever” and fears grow that important nature legislation will be undermined. In Spain, the oil drilling frenzy is threatening iconic biodiversity hotspots in the Canaries. Unfortunately, this environmental rollback does not only concern the EU: the failure of the COP19 of the UN’s Climate Change Convention to substantially speed up retarded international action on climate change, coupled with the refusal of Canada and Australia to provide developing nations with financial support that will help them cope with climate change, makes it clear that the crisis is now a global excuse for no change to the dominant dirty economic paradigm.
The most accountable promise for a living future comes from civil society: environmental groups and thousands of alarmed citizens protest against policies and plans that undermine Europe’s natural treasury and demand smart and sustainable policies that will set the foundations for living economies.