What to do?
We pursue a concept of suitability for grandchildren that is as consistent as possible. For us, sustainability is, to a certain extent, an essential aspect of our business model, with which we try to differentiate ourselves from other providers. In this article, our pursuit as a small business for greater suitability for grandchildren will be subjected to a realistic assessment.
Looking back on 2019, two aspects are particularly important in political and ecological terms. On the one hand, concern about global warming has definitely entered the mainstream of society and, in particular, has driven European youth onto the streets several times and in tens of thousands. On the other hand, and also related to concerns about global warming, Europe’s Green Parties had record election results. Switzerland, otherwise something like the proven European special case, was no exception this time. In 2019, the Swiss Greens were able to expand their voter base in several cantonal elections just as significantly as they were able to triumph in the national elections last autumn. And the local youth also got serious with their frustration with inactive politicians who, in recent years, have fought against global warming at best verbally, provided that they were even willing to recognize people as the cause of it. As a result, not only did demonstrations and actions take place regularly throughout the year, all of which quickly took on a moving character, but also groups and alliances were created that will offer political resistance to global warming a more institutional framework in the future. But environmental issues also shape the mass discourse beyond global warming. The ongoing destruction of the most important rainforests overseas caused and continues to cause as much turmoil as microplastics in the oceans or increased pesticide residues in Swiss groundwater.
Why politics is (also) needed
As a project developer with a comprehensive claim to sustainability, our focus is basically more on our own, individual actions. The central question is always what can we do? So far one remains in conformity with the liberal creed that the world must be improved through private initiative and not through an excess of regulations and regulations. But as important as these individual, self-determined approaches are in order to enable a more sustainable economy, personal responsibility and initiative alone will not save the planet. And we say that as a private small company, which itself knows how to benefit from a liberal legal framework. Firstly, it is important to differentiate between restrictions and regulations. For as useful as certain existing legal restrictions may be on the one hand to promote social and ecological sustainability, these are often not sufficient to encourage the vast majority of profit-driven actors to act more sustainably. On the other hand, there are already bureaucratic hurdles and legal provisions that simply run counter to any endeavor for more sustainability and only serve to protect certain particular interests. Legal changes are necessary here! Second, in some essential areas of economic supply, personal initiative can do little to change in favor of more sustainability.
A new startup, however innovative and persistently pursuing a sustainability concept, will not be able to leave its mark on Swiss energy supply or other large infrastructures alone. Unless the course is changed accordingly at the political level so that new, more sustainable concepts can actually be implemented and even standardized thanks to political side protection. Because of the constraints of a mostly competitive and almost always profit-driven economy, substantial transformations towards more sustainability can only be realized in exceptional cases solely by the driving forces of a functioning market. And this is exactly where vulgar-liberal patent recipes fail if they want to see everything solved by private individuals with their own responsibility and innovation.
The paradigm of the post-material consumer, whose actions are determined more by the idea of sustainability than that of economic self-optimization, is now being overused. Because here too there are two main handicaps. On the one hand, the fairy tale of well-informed consumers is not tenable in times of greenwashing marketing and (often) legal label fraud, even if one would only assume highly critical and investigative-trained consumers. And on the other hand, and since some environmentalists fail in both normative and political terms, the social question cannot be ignored when it comes to sustainability, since individual consumer decisions also depend to a large extent on the available financial resources. And since we live in times of increasingly merciless personal self-optimization on the one hand and steadily increasing cost of living on the other, the question arises, even with a very positive image of people, how the urgently required increase in sustainability should be achieved solely through personal responsibility.
Without the corresponding political changes and the associated legislative adjustments, neither global warming nor the overfishing of the seas or the pesticide content in groundwater will be stopped. So much must be clear to everyone!