Cassandra has moved. Ugo Bardi publishes now on a new site called "The Seneca Effect."

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi gave a powerful speech on the need of acting against climate change..... or did he?

The international media seem to be fascinated by the similarities in the physical aspect of Mr. Bean and of Mr. Matteo Renzi, prime minister of the Italian Government. There may be some similarities, indeed, but it is also true that Mr. Renzi is a shrewd politician who can be seen as a good example of a political style that privileges form over substance.

A few days ago, Mr. Renzi, Italy's prime minister, attended a meeting on the climate situation. He was praised for having taken a stance against climate change, but I think his speech is a good example of how a smart politician can say a lot and, at the same time, say nothing. It is a political style that is not specific to Italy, but is, rather, universal today.

So, I took the liberty of translating some of Mr. Renzi's statements at the meeting on climate, (as reported here) and adding their real meaning as Mr. Renzi himself could have done. (boldface: Mr. Renzi actual statements)

"I don't believe in a culture of negativity and of pessimism, I am optimist, but it is necessary to assume one's responsibilities and the time of choices is today" - So, I am starting with this remarkable platitude, and don't think I'll stop here!

" say that for us climate is a priority means to give back a sense of identity to our country..." which is, of course, another platitude, but it serves a purpose: note that I said "a" priority and I didn't say which are the other priorities so that, as you may well imagine, there will always be some priority higher than climate (and in a moment I'll tell you what these priorities are).

"Today, our enemy is coal", and I can say this because in Italy we use little coal, so that I can make a bugaboo out of it without offending the fossil fuel lobbies that finance my government. Besides, it is an excellent idea because it gives me a chance to say that other fossil fuels are clean in comparison.

"In 40-50 years we'll need to go well beyond the fight against coal"  And notice that what I really mean is that we don't need to do anything for at least 40-50 years. This, at least, explains what I really think about climate change.

"We need to be able to say things as they stand, that is, that renewables, alone, are not enough." Which doesn't mean I know anything about renewables, of course, but just that I represent a different lobby. 

"Neither oil nor gas will run out tomorrow morning" And, if you are really, really dumb, now I am explicitly stating what are my priorities. Are you happy, now?


Ugo Bardi is a member of the Club of Rome, faculty member of the University of Florence, and the author of "Extracted" (Chelsea Green 2014), "The Seneca Effect" (Springer 2017), and Before the Collapse (Springer 2019)