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The Youth Press Agency is an initiative of youth partecipation through the creative use of new and traditional tools of communication and information promoted by the association Viração&Jangada in collaboration with the association In Medias Res, associations of youth and schools.
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14/12/2018, 20:22

CGIL, Italy, sustainable development, fossil fuels, Europe, COP24, Katowice



The-climate-challenge:-a-sacrifice-or-a-panacea-for-work?


 The UN Conference on Climate Change (COP24) in Katowice is made not only of negotiations, but also of side-events. During one of these, we met Simona Ferrari. The representativ of the Italian trade union CGIL spoke with us of work and ecology.



In addition to the great meetings of technicians and negotiators, the UN Conference on Climate Change in Katowice (COP24) is made up of side events centred on a wide variety of topics somehow related to climate change. During one of these events, focused on work and ecologic transition, we had the chance to meet the Head of the Environment Territory and Culture Department of CGIL Simona Ferrari. She welcomed us with a smile and embraced us with her great availability, which lead her to consent to be interviewed on a hot topic - especially for Italy. The environment is something we all care about... As far as work is not involved. But working and protecting the ecosystem are two strictly related activities, as they both have something to do with climate change.

How do international and Italian workers respond to the laws and rules on ecologic transition?
Priority is placed on the defence of planet Earth, because we are not facing climate change fast enough - as scientists constantly repeat. Disasters caused by the global warming are under everybody’s eyes: we all are witnessing floods, droughts, famine and forced migrations. To do everything possible to safeguard our ecosystems is the precondition to grant work and rights to everyone.

Then, obviously, the transition to a greener economy has impacts on all workers, and especially on those who are employed in the energy sector. Here in Poland, as in Italy, where 23 fossil-fuelled power stations should be closed soon. The first thought of those power stations’ workers is the loss of their job. And it is true, the trade union does not deny it. But it is also true that the transition will boost employment: numerous studies demonstrate that it will create more jobs than those it will destroy. On this very regard, the latest IPCC special report on global warming specifies that the proposed solutions to climate change are not only compatible with an energetic transition and climate goals, but they are also in line with the models of sustainable development the UN wants the countries to implement by 2030. Among the aims of sustainable development, number 8 is the full employment of the global workforce.

There are enormous possibilities, but someone must be responsible of the social aspects of the whole question. The public intervention in the economic system is crucial. States should take upon themselves the creation of jobs, the furthering of the research, the implementation of innovations, the modification of university courses, and so on. They should create the conditions for sustainable development while granting social protection to those workers who will need to requalify.
Moreover, investment guarantees are needed. States are not doing a lot, however. Governments slack and are under the pressure of different lobbies. This problem concerns Italy and Europe, too. There is a tendency to hold other world regions accountable for climate change, but each country has its share in it.

Some days ago, the European Agency for the Environment issued a report which said that the EU will not be able to reduce its greenhouse gasses emissions by 40%: it will only reach a 32% cut. Thus, the Union will not contribute to fight against climate change as it promised to do in the framework of the Paris Accords. And it will be potentially co-responsible of the rising of the global temperature to +3.5°C - way higher than the acceptable limit of +1.5°C. Is this an ambitious Europe? To accuse the USA or other States of being negligent, as if there were good and bad countries, is just a way to deny our responsibilities. And to eliminate or avoid internal confrontations does not help in finding a solution. We must remember that the environmental crisis requires actions taken on a international (and we are here at the COP24 for this reason) and on a national and local scale.

What is university trade unions in the ecologic transition?
They have a fundamental role. We are talking about the future: thus, it is crucial that the young have an active role in the policy-making process which will define their own future. And young people have the energy and the knowledge necessary to invigorate the whole movement.

Are workers aware of the importance of the ecological transition?
They are, but a lot of work must be done. It really depends on the workers, on their age, for example. It seems that retirees are more reactive to the topic: maybe they have more time to worry about their children and grandchildren’s future, now that they do not have to work anymore.

The trade unions leaders in the agricultural sector are quite sensitive to the problem of climate change. But the group of workers which is most worried about the ecological transition comes from the energy sector, from the power stations. And anytime a power station closes, these people’s concern intensifies. CGIL always tackle the questions of sustainable development and the transition to a de-carbonified economy in its reports. We have elaborated an integrated platform for the negotiation of the measures to be implemented in the work market in relation to sustainable development. It is a tool meant for all degrees of negotiations, as the topic it tackles is interesting for all employers and employees. In general, I would say that the working world is becoming more and more aware of the environmental crisis we are facing - just like the rest of the population.Politicians, however, do not follow in the trend. In conjunction with the Coalizione Clima, my trade union called for public discussions of the situation before the political elections held in March. Very few parties responded in a positive way. And these have declared to share our opinion totally, but we all know how it ended up...

If the world wants to reach the Zero Emission goal by 2050, all countries must contribute. It is often argued that the first country which will start transitioning to a greener economy will be penalised, because its economy will be less competitive. Italy has often adopted this line of thought. But this is incorrect. In fact, the first country to transition will count on lots of competitive advantages and will create lots of new jobs on its territory. This means that the most penalised country is going to be the last to adopt a more ecological economic model.

The State has a great responsibility toward its community and citizens. The businessman’s goal is profit, not the preservation of the environment, public health and social equity. Businesses will continue to invest in fossil fuels for as long as they bring them profit. Thus, we need laws and rules which make the investment in fossil fuels too expensive. In Italy, the subsidies for fossil fuels and environmentally disadvantageous projects amount to 16 million each year. The government should invest those money in sustainable development-related projects. The last Budget Law did not even mention a similar operation.


Matteo Poda, Luca Kosowski e Roberto Barbiero
Carlotta Zaccarelli (Translation)

14/12/2018, 19:11

cooperation



Beyond-negotiations,-connections-between-youngers


 From an interview in the corridors, to the participation at an event “in China”. How the COP24 allowed us to cooperate with Chinese young people and to become panelists for an afternoon.



Cooperation. To cooperate means to act together, with purposes of mutuality and not speculative ones, to carry out a project or to achieve an aim. And what other opportunity to experience this concept, if not at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP)?It was out first day here at the COP24 when three Chinese guys stopped us in the corridors to film a short interview about environmental policy. After that quick moment, we thought our collaboration would have ended but we were wrong. Our peers contacted and invited us to the side event "Young Climate Action" that they were going to host in the Chinese pavillion on Tuesday 11th. The topics to focus on were the concepts of cooperation and environmental education.

The event was divided in two parts: the first one saw the intervention of different Chinese people, who stressed the importance of the awareness among youngers, especially in China, regarding environmental education and energy policies. Later on, the discussion became more dynamic and participative for the public too, thanks to the introduction of two panels and several guests. Firstly, the panelists were asked to explain their own vision on how youth deal with climate changes, both in an academic and social way. Afterward, the attention shifted on young representatives of different geographical areas of the globe. The countries were China, Japan, Malaysia, Kenya, Switzerland, the US and Italy, for which I was delegate. One of the questions we were asked referred to the main topics of the session and requested us to explain our experiences of collaboration in the environment field.

The adventure at the COP24 allowed me to be part of that kind of event for the first time in my life. At first, talking in front of a public so mixed in terms of origin, age, sex and culture, made me feel a bit uneasy. This because I didn’t feel prepared enough to represent all my friends here at the COP and, more in general, all Italian youngsters. Nevertheless, as soon as I started chatting with all the others young delegates, the stir faded away leaving space for the desire to converse and explain the reasons why we are here and the importance of cooperation. It might be foreseen and trite but, simply by exchanging ideas and opinions on such salient themes with other students from various realities, I established deep connections and got the chance to see the same subject from other point of views.
 
Personally, I believe that even small things have a really big impact, that most of the time we don’t even realize. I was positively impressed, for example, by the fact that some guys took a few time at the end of the side event to come and talk to me and the other panelists. It’s thanks to that kind of experiences that we can really understand the importance of our actions. From a simple interview in the corridors, we got the opportunity to participate in a whole event: these are the effects of cooperation!


Giulia De Nadai

 

14/12/2018, 18:49

travel, nature, sustainability, climate change



Travel-less-but-experience-more:-reflections-on-the-greenwashed-travel&tourism-industry


 Nowadays travelling has become a mainstream activity, almost like a hobby for many people. In a society where quantity is appreciated more that quality, we believe that the more places we visit, the more we know about the world.



We are at the 24th UN Climate Change Conference (COP24) attending the side event "Climate Action in the Travel & Tourism Sector". By walking in, we notice that there is a big audience, and some tension in in the air. After a couple of minutes, Gloria Guevara Manzo, the president of the World Travel and Tourism Council starts to speak.

"We care!" she says. But care about what: the environment or the profits?? Twenty  minutes of "info" and numbers about the Travel Council, followed by: when it was founded, how many members take part in it, and the big impact they have on improving the world of tourism and the world in general. 

The question "How do we engage more people in travelling?" pops up. In a few words, the objective the council has for the future is to make more people travelling, in a more sustainable and safe way -making a lot of profit along the way.  In fact, she underlines how the tourism industry has a great potential, creating more jobs and economic profits (for the big corporations). 

Wow. So idyllic. So impressive! How couldn’t we see that the solution for the global crisis was so simple? And mostly, that is so insanely simple to find sustainable solutions for one of the most impacting sectors, both at the local and global scale?

Everything in the opening speech of Ms. Guevara Manzo is perfectly packaged: the presentation, the exposition, the optimistic tone. But, to be honest, it sounds nothing more than a patchwork of slogans. And for the whole time we just keep thinking: is it about taking action to combat climate change or is it about profits?  

The answer arrives just a few minutes after, as the other participants start to talk. Michael Gill, director of the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), starts to talk very nervously about how much his company has invested in green(-washed) solution, about the importance of developing green fuel technologies, and most of all, how airplanes in the futurewill emit 80% less GHG, while repeating that "we are never ambitious enough". 

Yes, you indeed are never ambitious enough. In fact, by looking at the website of the company, the only promise made is to try "to cut off emission by 50% by 2050", while other organizations and businesses participating at COP24 pledge to have zero net emissions instead. Yes, they definitely should be a little more ambitious.  

Daniella Foster is the second speaker of the event. She works as Senior Director, Global Corporate Responsibility at the Hilton hotel chain. She starts her perfectly structured speech underlining the power of collective action, the need of a responsible growth. "This is a journey, and is something that will bring collective action and awareness".

Yes, we totally agree. It’s a very beautiful and effective phrase, but let’s think about who is actually inviting us to develop a consciousness about climate change and to start a collective action. An international hotel chain, which in 2015 had a turnover of  2,83 billions of dollars. An hotel chain that has actually stolen a lot of possible profits to other local hotels owners and that has clients mainly from the upper rich classes. So what is precisely this collective action about? Aren’t all these beautiful words finalized to improve the image of the Hilton chain? 

In the past few years, more and more corporations adopted different environmental friendly marketing strategies. This is because they know that in the medium and upper class being "eco-friendly", at least at words, has become a status symbol. But often, unfortunately, it is just an illusion. One clear example is provided by the famous food chain McDonald’s. 

The well-known brand in the past few years has started proposing more salads, some veggie burgers, hiring famous chefs to represent them...Yet, most notably, it has started decorating the interns of the locals with green or wooden furnitures, just to give the customers the impression of how green and sustainable they are. 

The same strategies are used by other famous corporations, such as Nestlè, or clothing brands like Burberry, Adidas or Puma. Because being green is cool. And also because if you try to make a production or a sector more sustainable, you can also increase the prices and therefore make more profit out of it.

A second question that naturally comes to mind, when corporation like the above start talking about sustainability, is: how can actually a corporation, like a hotel chain, be sustainable? How can inviting people to travel more, or better to go on vacation more (because travelling for real is a concept not included in the whole side event) be sustainable? Is it really necessary? 

Another speaker at the event is the owner of a company that organizes international expedition to the Himalayan mountains. We guess that everyone has, at least once in his life, dreamed of going trekking to the Himalaya. Those mountains that give you the feeling of being so tiny, that make you perceive the power and beauty of nature. But in reality, the increasing tourism is destroying, just as other beautiful places is the world, the cultural and natural equilibriums. It is wonderful that everyone has the opportunity to travel, but people have to accept that not all places are for everyone. The industry of tourism made us think of ourselves as invincible, that we can go everywhere without any kind of preparation because they are working on making everything safer and easier. But, this is not the real spirit of travelling. They transformed travel into a commodity to be consumed and devoured. 

To travel, people need to develop consciousness and humility. To be tourists, or better consumers, they just need money. Being a tourist is more a passive action, in which you want to be transported into another place just to feel far from your ordinary life. But at the same time, your brain keeps living the same negative emotions that you have in your normal routine.  When you travel, instead, you travel with the brain and heart, enjoying the positive and the negative things as an experience. 

What is necessary to be sustainable, is to travel less, but with a higher quality of the experience. It is about travelling for searching for something different from what we are used to, instead of something familiar. It is about supporting locals in improving their business and make their country flourish. It is about going  slow, and slow down our habits and routines. It is about enjoying the single moments. And remember that it is not important to count the kilometers you rode the year before, but instead the people you met and how deep you got to know the place you went to. 


Roberta Pisani and Veronica Wrobel



 



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