Johanna Cludius is an ardent supporter of a globally-led movement to save our environment, and believes working together globally is what will accomplish this. She now lives in Berlin, recently spending time in Moscow.
Having now spent over thirteen years at the Oeko-Institut, Johanna has devoted her career to seeking global sustainability. Add to this her diverse experience living in four countries around the world, and Johanna’s perspective is a valuable look into what a global citizen has to say about the pitfalls of today’s current way of looking at things… and what it could be like if we banded together across borders.
Introducing Global Citizen… Johanna Cludius
- What do you do? I am a senior researcher in climate and energy policy.
- Years Abroad: 7 years
- Home? I was born and raised in Munich, Germany. Right now, I live in Berlin, but spend quite a lot of time each year in Moscow with my family.
- Languages: German, English, Russian. At some point I was able to hold a conversation in French, too!
- Where will you be five years from now? Good question. Likely Berlin, maybe Moscow, maybe some place completely different!
Dear Global Citizen…
During these times, it seems most fitting to start my letter with some remarks about the coronavirus and the global response.
While I have great faith in humanity to tackle this crisis, one thing that bothered me was how quickly the pandemic was treated as a national problem, at least initially – not by working together globally. Maybe there is no other way to deal with these types of things, given our current political system and structures, but I was surprised how quickly borders were closed and – more importantly – how much focus also I myself placed on what was happening in my own country (in terms of caseloads, impacts, etc.).
It seems that now at least the EU is trying to formulate a more concerted response (at the EU-level). However, the devastating impacts on people living in less affluent countries or regions or those with less capacity to deal with the virus do not make front page news and I also find myself focussing on developments “at home”.
What happens when we’re not working together globally?
OK, I’ll stop here as I am just remembering that I was invited to write about a positive form of globalism! Actually, I planned to write about another crisis that I know more about by having worked in the field for a long time: the climate crisis. In fact, what we are experiencing right now with the coronavirus will feel like a walk in the park if we do not bring climate change under control over the next ten years or so. Not exactly positive either, right? But I’m getting there…
On the one hand, globalism / globalisation has no doubt fuelled a lot of global crises. Some examples: climate change or biodiversity loss, global supply chains that disregard basic human rights (e.g. related to work conditions, physical and mental health) in countries or regions where global goods are produced (or deposited at the end of their lifetime).
Related to climate change, what is most “unfair” is that those countries and regions that will be hit hardest and fastest are usually the ones that have hardly contributed to global greenhouse gas emissions. This is why, when I talk about “us” and “we” and what needs to be done, I think first and foremost of the richest, most-polluting parts of the world (where I am from). On the other hand, that our world has globalised is a fact and – at least related to the climate crisis – a global response is the only viable one.
The good: Where can globalism take us?
And now let me veer into positivity and sketch my ideal vision in a world of global citizens:
Picture this. The world wakes up to the knowledge that the window of opportunity to avoid dangerous climate change is closing (ongoing campaigning by the Fridays for Future movement and supporters has paid off!). National interests are put aside to tackle one of the most important global problems and the good news is: We have the knowledge and the technology to tackle this crisis!
And there is already an international forum that can coordinate action, the UN Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
And more great news: Since we are tackling the crisis swiftly and in a concerted fashion, working together globally, we will do so very efficiently (cheap) both at the international level and also at the level of individual countries. Since some climate change impacts are already unavoidable, those historically responsible step in to help the most vulnerable countries adapt to these impacts. And as a bonus: We realise how amazing it is to tackle global problems together, and we do not stop at the climate crisis, but turn to other goals. In fact, avoiding dangerous climate change has already helped advance the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Where our Global Citizen has called home
Relating to each other across borders
To end this letter on a personal note, I have been very lucky to be able to live in different parts of the world, especially while studying and working at university, although this is making me feel very bad about my carbon footprint during those years. (A sentiment also echoed by Ria Sen in her Dear Global Citizen letter).
More recently, I’ve been getting to know yet another part of the world (i.e. Russia) through family. It may sound a little cheesy, but the good old principle of school exchanges (i.e. immersion by going somewhere else and getting to know the locals) really works: I realised everywhere people have variations of the same emotions, dreams, fears… and that actually – surprise! – we are all not that different from one another.