The power to do green

I’ve never been very backward about coming forward. I’m quite partial to an opinion. And, on occasion, I’ve even been known to share them. I’m a great advocate for accountability, and believe that no one is above the law. And yet, all that said, I have an innate respect for authority that I’ve been whittling away at over the years. I’ve aged through blindly doing what I’m told to asking why. My primary school teachers would pass me from class to class with a forward introduction of ‘she never stops asking questions’. And even now, there’s little I enjoy more than a spirited debate. And the more people, the better.

I read with interest this week about the 900 Dutch citizens who have filed a class action suit against their government for falling down on the job and ‘co-creating a dangerous change in the world’. The issue at stake? Climate change. They say that their government isn’t doing what it should be doing to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It isn’t doing what it should be doing to curb climate change. And in such not doing, it is actually endangering their future.

The 900-strong cohort of activists is asking the court to make the Dutch government commit to specific GHG reductions and not just sit idly by waiting for an international agreement from the Paris climate talks later this year with a tentative promise to adopt the result. The plaintiffs, representing a broad spectrum of Dutch society, want their government to step up and take action. The time for vague promises in the distant future is over.

At the helm is the Urgenda Foundation, which has concluded that by such inaction, “the Netherlands is therefore knowingly exposing its own citizens to dangerous situations, in which they and their children will suffer serious hardship. The Dutch Supreme Court has consistently upheld the principle that the government can be held legally accountable for not taking sufficient action to prevent foreseeable harm. Urgenda argues that this is also the case with climate change.” I sincerely hope they pull it off.

new logo GreenAdvisorCloser to home, in Hungary, GREENWILL – an EuCham non-profit global initiative which helps organisations who want to green their day-to-day operations – is about to launch its Kickstarter campaign to develop its smartphone app GreenAdvisor. This little gem will allow consumers (you and me) to rate any business according to how green it is. Corporate attitudes and practices are set to come under the spotlight as we hold the big guys (and the no-so big guys) accountable for their environmental actions or inaction. And with the viral power of social media behind such ratings, this has the potential to generate a sea-change in how public opinion can affect behaviour.

Gone are the days of indiscriminate buying. We’re becoming a lot more conscious when we consume. We can make ourselves heard by voting with our wallets. And now, we will be able to raise our voices a little louder by voting publicly and broadcasting our ratings.

GA AppWith GreenAdvisor, we can find businesses and organisations that already act in an environmentally responsible way and we can give them our business, showing support for their efforts in cash money. We can also check out those businesses and organisations that have already been rated (good or bad) and use this to better inform our purchasing decisions. By rating them ourselves, we can do our bit to pressure and incentivise businesses to act greener, and if they don’t, we can ask why. Wonder what my primary school teachers would say to that?

The campaign will launch on Monday, 13th July at Akvárium Klub Official. Come to  Erzsébet tér, 1051 Budapest, Hungary  from 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM to party, talk, and pledge.

First published in the Budapest Times 10 July 2015