Axel Gosseries / FNRS Researcher and Professeur extraordinaire

ISP/Hoover Chair in Economic and Social Ethics, UCLouvain / Philosophy, Law

The translation of this testimony was generated automatically by a translation program. Thanks for your understanding.

In my work, I show how global warming, biodiversity collapse, soil erosion,… raise problems of intergenerational and global justice. I also focus on eco-relevant proposals regarding long-termist institutional design, anti-discrimination law, tradable quotas, intellectual property,… I believe that a fairer distribution of wealth and democratic procedures designed to better serve the common good should help.
In my professional life, I try to reduce my mobility-related environmental impact, through extensively using trains (daily but also for professional mobility on long distances), reducing the use of planes to a strict minimum, relying heavily on videoconference (including to teach and organize webinars with teams abroad). In my personal life, I mostly eat organic food, try to drastically reduce my meat consumption , gradually transform my urban garden into a biodiversity-friendly food forest,… I am also in charge during my free time of a vast area of Holm Oak savannah in the South of Portugal (Alentejo), where I plant and prune hundreds of trees, restore soils to increase water harvesting and capture carbon, dig ponds and swales, implement nature conservation measures (rare steppe bird species, 9 species of amphibians, orchids,…).
The remaining difficulties I face to reduce my emissions are: (1) avoiding long-distance mobility (even by train), (2) reducing my heating-related emissions, (3) reducing my waste to zero. Professionally, we should move towards a carbon-neutral and biodiversity-friendly university. I have tried to contribute to it in various ways in the past, without much success.
The main challenges that our societies face are: (1) a lack of deep knowledge among citizens of how dependent we are on ecosystems and how vulnerable they are, of how current consumption paths are unsustainable even if we used all the renewable energy available to us, (2) a lack of shared vision the future we want and what it takes to get there; (3) a lack of courage, hoping that change could happen effortlessly, (4) the action of veto players (e.g. fossil fuel industry) that influence politics and the fact we have difficulties keeping decision-makers and citizens focused on the common good, (5) the existence of massive inequalities that render the poor more vulnerable to environmental degradation and unable to help fixing them, (6) a growing world population of humans and massive world population of domestic animals aimed at producing meat, that consume and emit a lot.

Originally posted 2018-04-26 08:13:37.

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