Global warming: Local perspective from Erfurt – Panel Discussion Report

The issue of global climate change is perceived as something that affects the whole planet, but is quite often overlooked when it comes to its impact on a particular area. This can make us underestimate the specific effects that it has on our city, region, and hence – lead to believe that it is something that happens far away and that input of every single person and community efforts won’t influence anything. We wanted to bring more attention to it.

That’s why the 5th of June in the framework of European Sustainable Development Week (Deutsche Aktionstage Nachhaltigkeit in Germany) CGE Erfurt e.V. and Anastasiia Soholovska (European Volunteer) as an initiator organised a panel discussion “Global warming – Local perspective: Erfurt” on the effects of climate change and local actions against it. What are the points of view of a politician, activist and communication researcher on this topic? Continue reading and get some insights on the environmental situation in Thuringia and globally.

The panelists were Christian Prechtl from Erste Erfurter Energiegenossenschaft and Mehrwertstadt Erfurt, Marvin Volk from Fridays for Future Erfurt and Mira Rochyadi-Reetz from Institute of Media and Communication Science, Ilmenau University of Technology.

The panel discussion started with presentations by speakers. Christian Prechtl highlighted the importance of talking about climate change situation on the local level. He also mentioned that there are three main directions to work on in Erfurt – city planning, support of public transport and cycling, energy supply. Germany is on a good way in using renewable energy sources, Erfurt’s huge potential is in district heating, to which many households in the city are connected. Apart from the technological side, there is also a challenge of engaging a local community.

Christian Prechtl,
Erste Erfurter Energiegenossenschaft, Mehrwertstadt Erfurt

What comes to my mind lately to be more important than the technical solutions is the local focus of bottom-up. When we talk about radical climate justice and protection, we talk about society in a different way. So it’s about how we want to live together, what future we want to have. I think these kind of topics you only can solve in local communities. It’s not visible to have a whole plan for the planet, I think it’s visible to sit down, like we today, and talk about what we want in our communities, region, what we can do right now… The technical solution is ready, I think the challenging part is a cultural approach.

Christian Prechtl

Marvin Volk, Fridays For Future Erfurt

Marvin Volk is one of organizers of Fridays For Future Erfurt movement, which is a part of the global movement Fridays For Future, inspired by activist Greta Thunberg. The local movement has involved many school students, who stand for their future and, as you look at them, you realize – they are the ones who are fully aware of the results of ignoring climate change and won’t stop until decision-makers will meet their demands. Marvin Volk has voiced their concern and stressed the urgency of taking action:

Democracy in its best form is built on compromise.
But in climate change there can be no compromise.
A compromise between us and the industries means hundreds of millions if not billions of displaced and dead people over the next century.

Marvin Volk

Mira Rochyadi-Reetz is a reseacher in a field of environmental communication. She presented the climate change topic from perspective of communication. In fact, most of the information people learn and know about the environment comes from media. So what is the role of the media – to inform, educate, persuade to take action? Depends on the case. One of the aims is definitely to find a way how to reach the people who are not aware yet and encourage them to act. The words that are used to deliver a message about global warming and climate change are very important as well. Mira Rochyadi-Reetz states that some wording can have the opposite effect on people than anticipated:

Environmental researchers say that discussion about the crisis or a problem of climate change tend to make people don’t want to talk about it.

Mira Rochyadi-Reetz

Mira Rochyadi-Reetz,
Institute of Media and Communication Science,
Ilmenau University of Technology

Therefore, it is necessary to not only voice the existence of the problem which can make the readers abstract from a threat they don’t won’t to face, but inform about the reasons of climate change and solutions, actions and habits that every person can implement in his or her life (recycling, using car less, flying less, saving electricity and water, using less plastic, changing diet, influencing the authorities to make pro-environmental decisions, etc.).

The presentations were followed by a free-flowing discussions with audience. Many topics – from connection between climate change and religion to climate migration were covered.

We want to say thanks o everyone who joined the event and especially to the panelists for their informative input.

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