Publication date

April 14, 2022

What have we learnt from past crises? Are we better prepared for those to come? It is often disheartening to see how little we learn from our experiences, that we do not take the time, collectively, to reflect on our practices, each time caught up in the next crisis, and then the next, just like waves repeatedly crashing to flatten us on the sand.

What have we learnt from decades of academic research which, year after year, deepens our knowledge on climate change without ever changing the conclusions[i] of its reports? The latest report from the IPCC published this month is implacable: we now have a window of only 3 years to revert our emissions curve.

What did we learn at school, over the course of our lives, about the energy system on which we are so dependent? Practically nothing, besides the history of Edison’s light bulb and 3 or 4 basic principles of physics (and even so, I’d rather not be asked to explain them!)… And yet, these are foundational. We should know about our system if we depend on it! We should understand the workings, and especially take part in the decisions that will bind us for decades to come, if we are to have a future at all (see previous paragraph about what we already know). Learning is freedom, emancipation, democracy. It is also a necessity in order to be empowered to take action for our own existence.

And of course, learning is first and foremost about joy! Discovering, learning something new and using this knowledge to act is what adds to the flavour of my daily life (this is admittedly a bit of a poetic way to put it, but nevertheless true!)

The conclusion of the last IPCC report can be summed up in few words: there are existing solutions. They require us to rethink our economic organisation, the way we travel, our eating habits – in short, our everyday lives… Energy Cities members are a valuable source of all these solutions, which they have tested, in real collective learning processes (what is known as peer-learning, in European vernacular). 

These solutions need to be brought to the knowledge of everyone…
… massively rolled out
… and require a political framework to do so!

Scientists tell us ‘Policies matter’! Will we finally learn to respond?

[i] This series of op-eds is inspired by the conclusions of the Meadows report and the 5 measures suggested in its conclusion:love (February op-ed), networking (March), learning (April), inspiration, honesty… and there you have it! We have known about this for 50 years!