On World Nature Conservation Day, Dusan Pajovic provides a timely reminder that, when it comes to environmental policies, the EU and its institutions must mediate this process through citizens’ assemblies and activists, instead of leaving it to careerists and lobbyists
Countries like Belgium, France, Germany and Sweden are promised lands for almost every Balkan man and woman. It’s a shame that those countries are where they are because they were based and survived on torture, forced labour and/or the sale of weapons used to conquer territories. Many of them still keep their shackles around the countries of the Global South through public debt and the monetary zone that binds African currencies to the euro and ‘Western’ banks. The Global South is responsible for all the Teslas and other ‘fancy’ electric cars, but gets almost nothing from it. Let’s say, lithium is mostly mined in the Global South, so that white hands don’t get dirty and their land polluted. Because of this, countries like Chile and Argentina suffer from the destruction of fertile soil, water pollution and increased incidence of respiratory problems; thereby perpetuating systemic racism and neo-colonialism.
The European Commission announced the approval of gas and nuclear energy as green energy sources. I guess it doesn’t matter that nuclear energy is dangerous, unreliable, and requires the maximum engagement of services and massive monitoring of citizens, just as it doesn’t matter that civilian nuclear energy programs are the first step towards making nuclear weapons. And who cares that gas, as a fossil fuel, should be coloured green? Although gas inevitably releases methane during drilling, extraction and transportation, which according to the most conservative estimates is at least 25 times more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide.
Our politicians, intellectuals and activists say that we should strive for it. We should listen to Emmanuel Macron and Ursula von der Layen, not us southern Slavs “with an IQ of 86”. They are so smart and emancipated that the interference and direct financing of politicians is called lobbying, not bribery and corruption as with us, wilder tribes.
Those ’emancipated’ and ‘environmentally responsible’ G20 countries have given over three trillion euros in subsidies to fossil fuel industries since the Paris Agreement, while 15 European Union members regularly subsidise the same industries more than renewable energy sources. And if you’re wondering where the huge amount of money you pay for monthly electricity and heating bills goes, it’s worth noting that oil and gas companies are breaking all records, and this year they will make a net profit of 834 billion euros. Additionally, they actively oppose the ban on diesel and gasoline.
Why? Well, because the EC President, Von der Leyen, is negotiating a “green transition” with the directors of Shell, E.ON and other leading companies in the fossil fuel industry. Similar to my country, Montenegro, irresponsible citizens and their lack of education are collectively blamed by those oligarchs for slow changes and devastation of the environment.
Considering the credibility of the EC, I have no doubt that there is someone who will show them what the real environmental problems are, but I’m not sure when it comes to our Balkan politicians. Well, they get all the education on this topic from the EC – which doesn’t want a change of the status quo – or from the European Greens, whose prominent members approve the coalition’s decision to direct 100 billion euros towards militarisation. Apart from noting that they will probably use that money to invade again in the name of the aforementioned companies, it’s important to say that the army is not at all eco-friendly. Only the American military industry damages the environment more than many countries, including Sweden, Norway, Peru and others. While the brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine, in addition to human lives, took away biodiversity and a large amount of clean water, polluting the air and risking a ‘new Chernobyl’.
The Montenegrin economy wasn’t destroyed by IQ 86 people although our current prime minister claims so. The economy was destroyed by the arrogance, personal interests and ignorance of politicians and people in power. That said, the last nail in the coffin of the ecological state itself, and of Europe, won’t be the behavior of citizens, but the conviction of decision makers that the climate crisis can be solved by cycling and tin straws. I can easily imagine how our political “elite” order the most expensive fish dishes or steaks in their favorite restaurant, while telling the waiter that they don’t want a straw – to save the planet. Gentlemen, politicians and dear activists, waste from fishing nets alone makes up as much as 46% of all waste in the Pacific Ocean, while straws make up only 0.025% of plastic waste in the world’s oceans. On the other hand, animal agriculture accounts for at least 32% of global methane emissions.
In addition, only 100 companies having monopoly power emit 71% of all greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. Yes, the same companies they’d rush to give tax facilities and present them as messianic “foreign investors” who create jobs. Fast fashion, the opening of which you celebrate with red ribbons, is responsible for more pollution than all the cars in the world, while tourism, on which you rely heavily, contributes 8% of global gas emissions.
Dear Balkan ‘elite’, don’t mention IQ as a ‘scientific’ concept. Because that’s the only way you can compare yourself to the aforementioned countries, which, in the distant past, used IQ to justify their imperialist and colonial activities. So, by using that narrative, they wanted to win and oppress, and you want to make yourselves rich and stay in power despite failures. But your knowledge about ecology is the same as about IQ, which modern psychology does not see as relevant data.
In Davos, for a change, instead of toasting to our low IQ, collectively agree that you will leave the management of society to society itself. Because those same powerful people haven’t managed to solve problems for decades, but they rather create and continue to reproduce them.
Leave municipal, state, regional and global networking to us through citizens’ assemblies and harmonising political measures with scientific consensus. I assure you that we will have success. You will lose privileges in the process, but you will gain the entire planet. Your descendants’ yacht cruise around submerged Bangladesh will not save them from the avalanche of prehistoric bacteria that will be released by melting glaciers due to global warming.
The EU and its institutions must mediate this process, instead of being a place for careerists and well-paid lobbyists.
Thus, although the EU should not be the current model, it must be the model we should strive for because the alternatives are much worse. Unity and solidarity, the original ideas of the Union, are very necessary. Neither big-state projects like Open Balkans, nor Russia nor China will help in the greening or democratisation of the Balkans, while the EU, for example, could. The western Balkan countries must strive for EU membership so that they may further democratise it along with other progressive forces. Considering that we all share the same planet, we must continue to cooperate with other countries of the Global North, and the South as well, and pay them reparation compensation, relieve them of their debts and so on. The upcoming generation knows how. Not oligarchs who like top-down command, but horizontally organized citizens, scientists and activists. They just need a chance.
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