Next week: the Climate Conference. And after that…

november 2015 (2)

(this has been published as a column  in Dutch in the buildings sector newspaper Cobouw, see the Dutch version here.)

Next week , in Paris , there is COP21, the Climate-conference.

And after that, all coal powered plants will be closed, gas distribution builds down, all CO2 processes will be taxed, fossil fuel subsidies reformed to renewable energy subsidies, all buildings refurbished to 0-energy standards, and everything from biobased materials.

Ain’t that so? Or not?

Or will we continue being busy with marginal projects? Like constructing new offices that are 10 % better as old ones and get a gold medal? Creating sustainable business parks, and leaving former buildings empty? Continue using concrete where simple materials can do the same for less impact? Using aluminum window frames – since “its a sustainable material” -but forget its the most devastating process regarding energy? Building electrical cars, 3 billion in the next decades, in stead of organizing public transport? Making things recyclable after lifetime, somewhere in the future? So that our children can live on our waste ?

And what about the Pay Back Time ? Since we still want to earn money from all this, otherwise its not fun. Its not by chance that the current hype is called “Circular economy”. But you can take my word for it: If you can make a profit from a solution, it will not be a sustainable solution. Since the current economic model, has caused our problems , and is based on exhausting sources, it thrives by scarcity .

But, we can do it smart, dont we? Like smart cities? Smart? Connecting everything and steered by big data? Who’s problem is solved by that? Its a cramped attempt to maintain what we have, with a “Business case”, and is a flight forward to save what can be saved: don’t mess with our business and trade! We will construct windparks, and build business parks, and ,and, and.

And fast, since otherwise we are running out of resources. Lets use all fossils to make sustainable products, and smart grids… undoubtedly with a future software scandal, that shows far too positive CO2 emissions… Its called “the free market…”

And the rest of the world? Bad luck. We are rich, and want to profit until the last drop. And there will be no resources left for others. Piketty was in the news for his book on increasing inequality between the rich and the poor in the world. He was talking money. But this is “resource inequality”: we , here in the “developed” countries will have made a transition, using up all the remaining resources, to continue our way of life.

I am afraid that after the climate conference nothing essential will change. That we will continue neglecting balances in energy and material resources in our Island Earth and continue depleting.

With the result of scarcity, loss of biodiversity, exhausted soils, and climate change. And with more extreme weather, disasters and wars over energy, water and resources. Don’t misunderstand this: its already happening today . And with refugees . Which , as currently in europe, require another wave of construction works, providing houses for these people, since where do you house them? The project developers are ready, they still can use some work after the last financial crises, which left them with unused construction land…

Nobody has to feel insulted, we are all in this together . But in two weeks is the climate conference. And whatever comes out of that, the climate does not wait changing . It continues changing.


The only way out, is for us to change as well.

Author: ronald rovers