Article

Thoughts from a scalding Athens in a climate in crisis 

Just as the flight taxies out on the strip my phone gets an emergency warning; the evacuation has started from the neighbouring areas of the rapidly increasing forestfire. A quick look out the window can confirm the situation; huge clouds of dark smoke are welling out of the nearby mountain side. The darkness fades out to lighter brownish grey further up in the sky, and slowly colours the entire horizon.
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The look of doom, from spectator flight seats.
I went to Athens for work, but is of course sharing this plane with hundreds of tourist pouring in from Scandinavia, USA and Northern Europe. They all came for the sun and warmth, but some are now admittedly escaping the heat by moving their departure date. After five days of 40 degrees celcius, many felt they did not get the pleasant Greek holiday experience they were looking for. And wealthy as they are, tickets can be changed and new plans can be made.

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A world in crisis, and the way we react to it 
Talking to fellow passengers gives me a strange feeling that we are all fleeing. Back to our comfortable homes, in our cold countries. Fleeing on a combustion engine gigamachine throwing out more of the problem that made us all get to this point.  Accompanied by jokes referencing to the last days of heat, people are smiling and noting the welling smoke. They are sighing and looking forward to the cold, fresh air of the north. With lightness they move on, happy to “get out in time” as one passenger says. A lightness that is almost unbearable, and definitely disgusting. 



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Those who can’t escape
There are over a million people in central Athens, many of them with nowhere to flee; like the many in housing with poor ventilation and definitely no air-con. The elderly of these. The animals in the burning forests. The over 120 000 Greeks and many of them Athenians living directly in the streets, scolding in direct sunshine with nowhere else to go. 
Walking the streets of Athens during a heatwave is a walk of shame. A walk from where the addicts set their first shots in bright daylight, to the wealthy drinking their frozen margaritas before noon is literary 5 minutes long. The path from the cold, damp shopping streets with air welling out of the air-conditioned stores, to the urine-smelling, dusty sidewalks occupied by the many people living in the streets, is lined by careless tourists.

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Shame, anger & action
I am struck by shame and anger, being in this situation -  being on this flight.With front row seats to another climate disaster, we zip our coffees and move on. Or, should we say driving seats to the disaster?  The only refuge I can find for my own shame is that I was there for work. The difficult, delayed, and increasingly digitally distributed train-lines of Europe has been my way of dealing with the shame for many years. The systems that, at least in the nordics, used to be quite good, is sadly slowly becoming worse do to privatisation of the trainlines. When the market economy is driving our developments, the commons never wins. And lines of iron stretched across the distant areas of the north where people actually live, is never going to be profitable. Politicians are our only hope.
But I cannot speak for the others; Would I feel less ashamed if my fellow passengers all noted the welling clouds in the horizon with guilt in their eyes? Would it feel better if we all did not have this lightness? And what can one really do?

Give up on advocacy for mobilisation - tax the behaviour
After many years in climate advocacy, climate tech and climate finance, I have given up on mobilisation. People will never change their behaviour, even when fleeing from countries stricken by climate crisis, they just book a new flight to another destination. Our only hope is to push policy changes at the European and national levels, through a just price on carbon and end to fossil fuel subsidies — specifically, an end to the tax exemption on kerosene. The kerosene tax was on the way from the EU right before covid, but placed in a drawer to protect the airline companies from bankruptcy.  The current tax exemption on flight fuel is in effect a fossil fuel subsidy that disincentivizes a shift to lower carbon modes of transport, especially rail. And is currently one of the reasons our rail lines are falling behind, while flights are increasing by the hour.

Our future is in the hands of politicians 
Their current weakness is the inability to tax the behaviours that is driving the climate crisis, and inability to use their powers to make the fossil fuel companies move towards renewables. Both could be easy if they had followed the polluter-pay principle from the start. Or used the current opportunity for the windfall principle to reallocate funds from record profiting fossil fuel companies in the light of the energy crisis, to the industries that are now struggling to ramp up the immense possibilities of harvesting sun and wind. When people don’t feel shame, even after experiencing the crisis first hand, we have to rely on our politicians to lead us away from the increasing climate chaos. May they be daring, decisive and direct - cause we don’t have time to combat indifference.

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About Brita: Experienced climate reality leader, European NGO builder and entrepreneur within climate risk tech and climate impact investment. Published in Forbes and columnist in the Norwegian Technical Weekly Magazine.


  • Jordan Edmondson

    46 w

    Thank you so much for sharing this! It's disheartening to see how poeple are shrugging this off back at home England, so I can't imagine how you must have felt on that plane. Taxation is a huge part of the solution and I agree that can't happen without political change.

    4
    • AYEBARE INNOCENT

      46 w

      Thanks for sharing

      4
      • Margie Sumadh

        46 w

        One positive is that those with money to go on vacation to Greece and have the resources to escape when it gets too hot - at least they know that there is excessive heat, a heat that is punishing to the body. I hope that awareness extends to the plight of the Athenians they left behind, the animals, the fruit, the crops, the water supply, the disease, the lack of resources that will be the norm. I hope they will remember, I hope they will tell that part of the story - not just how they managed to score a new departure date flight reservation. I hope. Margie Sumadh

        5
        • bonke reinhard

          46 w

          These an eye opener thanks for sharing

          4
          • Mary Ackenhusen

            46 w

            excellent thoughtful piece...exasperating but our reality.

            4
            • Michael Collins-Frias

              46 w

              Motive is greed. Whom controls the reason demonstrate values upon societal expectations, values & focus. Banks control what is deposited if they lack funds please read Bank Secrecy Act clearly demonstrate how and why banks seized my inheritance in 1983. Except my inheritance was not currency. Account seized was in preferable shares issued 1956 to my grandmother Queen Ellen. Few if any truly knew her values. Only one whom controls her trust can answer those questions. I have never been given her trust or can understand why she named me successor. Accounts hold together global banking systems across national boundaries of 282 nations. Each account affords immediate access between entity transfers globally. Knowing any process is key toward comprehensive understanding. Agency A is USB-A holdings account in preference shares within entity A. Agency B is Wells Fargo holdings account. Label of A, B, C, D, E, is inconsequential regarding 97,009 entities all paying into system for global access upon royalty payments. Access granted until accounts are seized by idiots. Once seizure occurs access slowly diminishes over time. Eventually limited access due system restrictions as entity must guarantee certain volume of transactions provided within cover daily basis. Same principle applies upon carbon taxation. Same principle upon royalty payment taxation applies. For accounts owned by me taxation applies: US Treasury 37% State of California 13% Social Security Irrevocable Trust Fund 3% not limited basis upon earnings as accounts are unlimited so shall taxation to be paid. After taxation then grant distribution applies per US Trust Bylaws 13% public grants 13% direct student grants 13% public transportation grants Allocation of 13% equates toward $2 trillion in annual earnings. Grants shall be distributed in sum of $6 trillion annually. If earnings are insufficient of $6 trillion then remainder comes directly out of sale preferred shares held in holding accounts directly until depleted. Unfortunately account holding 1988 held 680 trillion share splits have split 24 times since. Creating 680 x 2 = 1,360 trillion shares 1st split since 1988 1,360 trillion shares x 2 = Continue until 24th multiplier. Then after each 10th integer simply increase from trillion to next 1,000 notation. Basic mathematical equations are a function of growth exponentially unless greed is concerned. If 13th integer occurs without distribution factors recessions occur over restricted access. Account grows but economy dies. Funds grow while strangulation upon growth. Unless we invest in infrastructure, foundations of change, build infrastructure, if surface is on fire then we build underground as our ancestors did last time we caused these events. In China under ground coordination between nations occurred creating commerce under ground while death occurred above. Tunnel network stretching from Ukraine to China still exists. Network is across planet along upper crust very dangerous currently. Pathways of neglect cause decay. Idea principal same. Create underground spaces to assist survivors. South Korea has multiple structures built currently due constant issues. Stop using things causing climate issues. Boards only response silence. Remove once incentive upon boards. Remove account foundations from all corporate holding accounts transfer all holding accounts immediately to federal reserve digital currency Program immediately. Cut off access by regulated institutions immediately. Any hiding holdings will be exposed in minutes not days or years. Put holdings into program — earnings from program management to be used for future investments. Typical earnings are 7.5% minimum up to 15% if nation is on sound basis. If nation is Russia expect 45% rate. If nation is China expect 35% rate. If nation is any other in violation expect 25% rate. In violation per violation adds .025% per violation. USA currently 7.5% Currency valuations are directly related upon these transactions and debts owed. Violate any prior agreement and rate increases by .025% per violation increments. Just my thoughts upon options. My opinion means nothing. H.I.H. 23 Prince Michael of Finland 🇫🇮, Israel 🇮🇱, Ukraine 🇺🇦, USA 🇺🇸 King David is a non paid position assigned me at age 5. When I inherited this pile of crap. In my 55 years never used accessed or spent a penny from any of my 8 million accounts globally. My 97,000 banks are governed entirely by each board within each entity. I have my vote only. My proxy votes huge are only option for me if granted my rights as owner of account. Except control while nice only helps those in control. I have never been in control of accounts. All accounts seized when I was 15 yet still in my name. Bancorp holds 680 trillion shares in 1 hidden account. Wells Fargo holds 43 trillion shares in hidden account. Those numbers were in 1988. No idea what currently exist. Only determined whole I assisted budgeting of allocated funds in account seizures which happened to be my accounts being used. Except accounts are holding preferred shares not currency. Thing holds value basis upon valued perception. Preferred shares of USB-A issued 1956 hold a value between one being asked or willing to sell. My Doctor stated his view each share value to be $200,000 each of USB-A but I felt value was closer to $33,000 myself but I am conservative in valuation. Even then taking account numbers by value creates unlimited credit access globally for those needing credit. Infinite ♾️ loop of credit and account valuation towards creating an infinite ♾️ supply of credit globally from 1 account let alone 8 million accounts globally hidden. My opinions are my own and do not reflect any agency or affiliates stated or subordinate structures owned within subordinate trust organization. I am simply the owner of a trust which owns majority held in secret no longer. Now that crap is stated publicly remember we control actions we do. We can not control actions by idiots in control or liars whom state lies so they remain in control of lies as demonstrated by prior administrations. Expose the lies exposes the corruption of liars.

              4
              • Christine Zimmermann-Lössl

                46 w

                I think we need a multilevel approach and taxing kerosene is one measure - important so! as to not allow any fossil fuel exemptions anymore. Politicians indeed need more courage and for that, they need our support!

                10
                • Geoffrey Lipman

                  46 w

                  I do not agree. This article does not show that aviation represents just some 2-3% of global emissions. So any change from increasing taxation on fuel (a percentage of total cost) will not have a major impact on the global apocalypse. Just to be clear - we all want aviation to be in the lead cohort of zero pollution transformation - but this is just too over simplistic it will take a basket of changes - technology: economic: operational etc If there is one thing that could make a. significant positive change it’s to follow the IPCC call to peak emissions in 2025. A simple airport cap would cut through the industry opposition lobbying. At SUNx Malta we are launching the Strong Dialogues to focus attention on this opportunity. Why not join in at www.thesunprogram.com . Geoffrey Lipman

                  3
                  • Catherine

                    46 w

                    @geoffrey_lipman Not quite as simple as just the CO2 emissions... Around 2.4% of global CO2 emissions come from aviation. Together with other gases and the water vapour trails produced by aircraft, the industry is responsible for around 5% of global warming.

                    4
                  • Grace McCaughey

                    46 w

                    More people must accept that they, each individual one, contributed to this situation. We must stop buying stuff and foods which have been carried half way around the world at great cost to the climate.

                    10
                    • Catarina Rolfsdotter-Jansson

                      46 w

                      Great piece, thank you Brita.

                      6
                      • Clive Richard Lord

                        46 w

                        I wish Brita would comment publicly on the unconditional basic income. In my blog https://www.clivelord.co.uk I claim it might be averted.

                        4
                        • Mario de Vries

                          46 w

                          Great piece Brita, again. Takk!

                          8
                          • bonke reinhard

                            46 w

                            In need this an eye open article for all of us . Thanks for sharing

                            9
                            • Richard Orengo

                              46 w

                              This is hilarious

                              5
                              • bonke reinhard

                                46 w

                                These very motivating thanks for it

                                8
                                • zelda ninga

                                  46 w

                                  Thanks for sharing the article, clearly the poor keep suffering everywhere.

                                  7
                                  • Lucinda Ramsay

                                    46 w

                                    I totally agree, we should tax flights - those who fly more should pay more! We can't get rid of flying- especially coming from an island (Ireland) it's the only way to get to many European destinations but we should pay for the privilege and stop low cost airlines selling flights for next to nothing- tax air travel and reduce flights!!!

                                    11
                                    • Deirdre McDermott

                                      46 w

                                      @lucinda_ramsay Its not though! There are ferries and sail and rail options. They are however expensive and time consuming - AND the carbon counters that I have found dont measure the carbon generated by ferries.

                                      1
                                    • Aidroos Taha Qaid Naji

                                      46 w

                                      Very insightful

                                      10
                                      • Kevin

                                        47 w

                                        This is very insightful and eye opening

                                        10
                                        • Sarah Chabane

                                          47 w

                                          Thank you for this important piece 🙏

                                          12
                                          • Joseph Githinji

                                            47 w

                                            This is a great piece, my best part is the last part that our future is in the hands of politicians. This for one gives me hope that this leaders have the chance to make the right choices and influence those they represent. However it's sad how our leaders neglect this sole responsibility, I hope they can all have a check on this article and do the necessary action for a better future.

                                            13
                                            • Annett Michuki..

                                              47 w

                                              thank you for this, it's really enlightening

                                              12
                                              • winnie nguru

                                                47 w

                                                This is very insightful

                                                12
                                                • Patrick Kiash

                                                  47 w

                                                  Well written deep article with great insights. Its the high time the current generations of leaders to take a thoroughly decisive steps that will help our planet, as already east to west, north to south, the signs are speaking for itself.

                                                  12
                                                  • bonke reinhard

                                                    47 w

                                                    Thanks for sharing 👍

                                                    12
                                                    • Ford Brodeur

                                                      47 w

                                                      The perception of going to Greece for the sun and warmth is now on its head with the climate crisis upending what it truly means for "sun and warmth" in a place where temperatures are in the extremes.

                                                      13
                                                      • walter lungayi

                                                        47 w

                                                        Great article.

                                                        12
                                                        • Adam Wallin

                                                          47 w

                                                          Chiming in to thank you for sharing these experiences. While shame will never make people change their behavior, I think experiences like these can help a lot of people understand the importance of climate policy and hopefully push for it from their politicians. That is indeed what we need considering how urgent the situation is.

                                                          13
                                                          • Rukia Ahmed Abdi

                                                            47 w

                                                            Thank you for sharing this eye opening article. It's true that most people don't feel guilty for their contributions to the climate crisis. If everyone was to feel a pinch of a guilt ,l think they will start thinking about how to solve the crisis or rather how to reduce their carbon emissions. I pray that this article opens our eyes and inspires us to take prompt action

                                                            24
                                                            • Andy Une Economie Circulaire

                                                              47 w

                                                              @rukia_ahmed_abdi Alas, cognitive dissonance, vis-a-vis climate change, is the reality that NOW must be recognized/acknowledged because we all must take action, together, 'in solidarity' daily, to address/solve this particular very serious threat so that multitudinous future generations WILL have a habitable planet! We can do it! We have all the solutions! We just MUST implement these particular 'right' solutions for both our precious, sacred planet and all life on this particular truly wonderful world!

                                                              14
                                                            • john linus Tom

                                                              47 w

                                                              Thanks for sharing this positive insight

                                                              23
                                                              Welcome, let's solve the climate crisis together
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