Bonne Année et Bon Courage!

Bonne Année et Bon Courage!

Dear Solar Heat Europe members,

On behalf of our Board of Directors and Secretariat, I wish you all a prosperous 2020, both at personal and professional level.

It is time to recover energies next to our beloved ones, in a period identified with happiness and hope. We do need this breakaway from such as eventful year as 2019 was.

In what concerns climate change and energy transition, 2019 is a remarkable year, that brought many surprises and challenges. Still, we end this year with mixed signals. On one hand the European Commission has launched its European Green Deal, the European Council stated its commitment to a carbon neutral Europe by 2050 and the European Parliament declared ‘Climate Emergency’. On the other hand, we rely still too much on words and lack concrete and strong measures, of which the COP25 was an unfortunate example.

However, looking at the picture just one year ago, we must acknowledge that we have come a long way in what concerns the commitment to climate action. The new European Commission has made it one of their hallmark, as referred in the mission letter from President van der Leyen to the Executive Vice-President to the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans. And there has been strong support from industry and NGOs to this renewed climate ambition, of which we have also been part, as well as big industrial players.

The Commission President identified the European Green Deal as Europe’s Man on the Moon moment. But this is so much more than that. As we referred on our Press Release, this is our ‘Humankind on the Earth’ challenge.

And this is why it is the young generations that are taking the lead. Obviously!  Greta Thunberg and the Fridays for Future movement played a major role in waking up consciences, namely by facing decision makers, both politicians and CEOs, with harsh questions they don’t know how to answer to.

Nevertheless, there is almost everything left to do. We lack real action and we are still being deceived into the idea that real action is in place. As I had the opportunity to refer in a previous text, we went from the ‘Inconvenient Truth’ about climate change to the ‘Reassuring Lie’ of COP21 in Paris. Greta Thunberg has put it clearly in her speech at COP25 in Madrid:

“The politics needed does not exist today despite what you might hear from world leaders. And I still believe that the biggest danger is not inaction. The real danger is when politicians and CEOs are making it look like real action is happening when in fact almost nothing is being done apart from clever accounting and creative PR.”

As an example, it is interesting to note that the stance on urgency has been watered-down on the European Commission President’s speeches. From the ” Our most pressing challenge is keeping our planet healthy” from her initial statement to a single reference to urgency in the European Green Deal: “Turning an urgent challenge into a unique opportunity”. When referring this topic, an European Commission official commented that they cannot afford to put a panic message out there.

What does this mean? Are we not listening to the message from the young generations? Have we forgotten the words of Greta Thunberg, in Davos, at the beginning of the year:

“I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. … I want you to act as if our house is on fire.”

As I say to my young daughters: “it is normal to feel fear. What is important is the way we address our fears”. We need to act as if the house is on fire. And that means understanding the seriousness of the situation and feel fear. And then to be able to overcome our fears and act, so that we don’t panic. And that requires courage, real courage.

That’s what I wish to all… As one would say in French-speaking Brussels,

Bonne Année 2020 et Bon Courage!

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