The environment: who cares?


Did you know that the dutch government has promised to reduce carbon emissions by 49% by 2030, after failing to keep a similar promise and only reducing emissions by 13% since 2012? Did you know that Erasmus University is working towards a 50% decline in CO2 emissions by 2025? These are promises that have been made to us and our environment that you probably didn’t hear about-and we are an integral part of making sure these promises are kept.

Climate change is a huge problem today. Especially for those of us who live in low lying countries like the Netherlands and who are likely to be underwater by the end of the century. We have all heard the warnings. We have mostly heeded them too – there are more vegans and zero-waste people today than there ever have been. Of course not all of us are taking action to fight climate change, but what if we all did? Would that even be enough?

Power for change

We are constantly being told that the problem is every single one of us. We take all responsibility for the all of the damage. To an extent this is correct, we all do hold some responsibility to climate change. But we can’t neglect that some people have the power to create a lot more change than we do. For example: The main problem is our consumption of un-environmentally friendly products, right? But that is what we are: consumers. The real problem lies with the government. The real problem lies with the business owners and the policy makers that make plastic, meat and pesticides the cheap and convenient option.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t take personal action, because we all should. Every little bit really does make a difference. But while not buying or not accepting un-environmentally friendly products may take plastic and other toxic waste out of your trash can (and your conscience), it does not take them off the shelves and does not solve the core problem. What would help more, is standing up to the people and policies. The apathy that currently surrounds the subject of climate change and sustainable action is letting the university, the government and the world off the hook.

Walk the talk

So if you’re considering going green as your new year’s resolution (which you really should), I would like to suggest that you also help to start a conversation. Talk about it! Talk to your friends, talk to the waiter who offers you a straw, talk to those higher up on social media, talk to your professors. The more it becomes apparent that we all actually care, the more the rest of the world will have to cater to that fact. Erasmus even has a sustainability hub, which you can become a member of for only €5 a year. They create events and ideas to make Erasmus University more sustainable, and it costs close to nothing to get involved.

It’s time to start holding ourselves and others accountable for the damage that is being done. Let’s make 2019 the year that we stop assuming that change will take place without us.

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