The facts are clear
Climate change is real and is predominantly caused by humans. It is already having major effects, many of which are irreversible. In a perfect world, science provides the factual basis and society then decides what actions need to be taken. The reality looks far different, however.
For one, highly influential networks generate “alternative facts” to spread doubt and to influence policymaking and society
. Secondly, actions do not unequivocally proceed from facts – people’s values matter. Is the ideal vision of Switzerland a country with high biodiversity, one with an intact climate, or is it one with a large gross national product?
What we “must” do depends on how much we value the world we will leave for our children and grandchildren to live in. If our primary goal is merely to maximize profits over the next few years, then the climate and biodiversity do not matter. This is not the case, however, if we want to guarantee our livelihoods in the long term. The internationally accepted Sustainable Development Goals are also fundamental principles rooted in Switzerland’s Federal Constitution. Leaving it all up to others is not an option either, as the United Nations Framework Convention’s principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities”
In other words, there are almost no purely fact-based decisions
. Context, options, and a discussion about priorities are required. This is especially true for “tricky problems” like climate change, migration or social justice, where all factors are both cause and effect at the same time and where there are many competing players and interests.
We have to act on climate change
Those who argue that nothing can be substantiated or decided in such cases are mistaken. Switzerland and other countries have agreed to act in order to prevent dangerous climate change
. What defines “dangerous” had not yet been defined in 1992, but a clear international policy goal was set with the Paris Agreement – to keep warming well below 2°C while aiming at a target of 1.5°C.
But we are not on course, which is why ambitious measures need to be taken. Even in areas where there is less scientific certainty, the UN Framework Convention recommends that preventative measures in the face of serious or irreversible damage should not be delayed