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Fostering Transition!

The third discussion of our Talking Climate series on 23 April focused on science and communities with our speakers Professor Diana Ürge-Vorsatz, Central European University, Vice Chair, Working Group III, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); Patryk Bialas, an activist, a business leader and member of the Katowice City Council; Pedro Macedo, a social entrepreneur and action researcher on climate issues, working in the climate change research group in the University of Lisbon.

In these difficult times it is even more important to listen to the science, to build trust and look for the best solutions, which unite communities where inclusive thinking, shared goals and collective action will be the foundation of a healthy, resilient and sustainable future.

It was never more complicated for municipalities and citizens to collaborate and never more fundamental to use the billions of Euros, Dollars and Pounds on the best possible way to catalyse sweeping changes in our societies for a new, better, normal – for avoiding the fossil-based business-as-usual economy recovery.

Professor Diana Ürge-Vorsatz, in her opening key-note address highlighted that we cannot lose the momentum emerged from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. Tax-payers money must be used along with the interest of the society and used for green restructuring of the economy and avoid climate or carbon lock-in. With the limited funds we must prioritize the society against the traditional fossil-based economy and avoid investments that lock-in green-house-gas emissions. “Local councils and communities should study details when planning mitigation strategies and look for positive lock-ins and check risks at the same time,” concluded Professor Ürge-Vorsatz.

Pedro Macedo started with the cultural aspect of the lock-in problem, which can be unlockedthrough open dialogue, confrontation and criticism. “We have to accept that we are not in control, we have to accept uncertainties and complexity, so we need to collaborate on local level,” emphasized Pedro Macedo. The framework of such collaborations is built on understanding of goals of the different stakeholders and build on the synergies – away from ideology and on a practical way. Three conditions are crucial in the process: facilitation; imagination; trans-local efforts to connect local municipalities with the best experience and pilot project outcomes.

“Citizens, business leaders, civil society activists, scientists are ready for the energy transition in Upper Silesia, but politicians are not,” started his contribution Patryk Bialas. Coal is a strong element of the local identity. 80% of Poles are interested in renewables, 69% are interested in turning from black to green and 41% of citizens want to be prosumers of green energy. The role of local leaders is to empower citizens and create a dialogue with citizens while civil society activists should build a critical mass to advocate for green change.

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