Romanian and European politicians, business leaders, and environmental activists gathered in Bucharest last week for a meeting on climate change. Over the past half-century we have wiped out nearly seventy percent of wildlife, coastal cities are sinking—to name just a few problems—and all the while we are chasing profits. Is there a solution?
Speakers stressed the importance of a more environmentally conscious living and the urgency of achievable political strategies to protect the world’s biodiversity, forests, cities, and economies. Hans van der Loo, President of the Integrated Institute for Economic Research, noted that much of humanity’s wealth is built along the coasts and if the Greenland icecap were to melt, cities such as Venice, Amsterdam, and Hamburg would be flooded. He added that the mere production of a car produces massive quantities of CO2, which is released into the atmosphere even before the vehicle reaches the streets—thus fundamental changes in the way humanity lives must take place.
Environmentalist and mountaineer Alex Găvan has spoken out in favor of preserving the remaining forests around Bucharest and other major cities. Anna Akhalkatsi, representing the World Bank at the event, said environmental changes could push 132 million people into poverty and 216 million people into migration by 2030, and the most severe consequences will be felt in the already disadvantaged areas. In addition to the importance of protecting green spaces, the politicians also underlined that solutions to climate change cannot be found at the government level alone, but must be developed in partnership with businesses, the public sector, and society.