“The battle for the climate”: 50 years of struggle in a documentary

For the first time, a film retraces 50 years of contemporary history, focused on the fight against climate change. “The battle for the climate“started in 1972: the danger”activities with a repercussion“Climate is discussed at the first United Nations Environment Conference in Stockholm (Sweden).”From that moment on, a fierce struggle began between governments, companies and NGOs“, say the two directors, Elena Sender, a former journalist for Science and the future, and Alexis Barbier-Bouvet. He is convinced and skeptical: those who want to act to avoid the announced disaster and those who have an interest in not moving.“.

Scientists caught in a pincer movement

Scientists, who produce ever more precise and abundant knowledge, are caught in a pincer movement. We know this from 19And century compared to CO2 it accumulates in the atmosphere when fossil fuels are burned, causing a greenhouse effect. And since the 1970s, computer models have made it possible to predict that an increase in the Earth’s average temperature would have dramatic repercussions leading to the melting of the Earth’s ice, sea level rise, seasonal perturbations, etc.

But if the alarms have followed, concrete and effective actions are desirable to avoid the disasters announced. How come ? This film accurately traces the last fifty years, between scientific research and media controversy, citizen mobilizations and lobbying maneuvers, political disputes and international negotiations, real progress and disappointed hopes.

A battle full of conflicts

One of the strengths of the documentary is to tell how the same battle for the climate has clashed with other conflicts. If Margaret Thatcher pushes for the creation of the IPCC in 1988, it is because she has a scientific background, but also because she is struggling, in her country, with the powerful coal unions whose mines she wants to close.

And it is a war that will paralyze the transition to action “to save the climate“claimed by hundreds of millions of people who marched around the world in April 2000. The 9/11 attack pushed the West into the fight against terrorism and, for politicians as well as public opinion, any message that is not sure is now imperceptible. “Our house is burning and we look away “complains French President Jacques Chirac at the Earth Summit in Johannesburg.

Interviews with great witnesses give life and flesh to this breathtaking story. Former Cato Institute lobbyist Jerry Taylor looks like he’s out of the movie “Thanks for smoking “, he recounts, not without cynicism and gluttony, the pressures and arguments used to delay action and sow doubts for the benefit of the fossil fuel industry. And with the help of scientists not at all expert on the subject – such as rocket physicist Fred Singer – sometimes much more listened to than those of the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Experts, Robert Watson, former president of the IPCC, sighs for his part..

James Hansen, The former NASA researcher, pioneer of computer simulations, also returns to his findings: this climate whistleblower had been censored by the Bush administration in May 1989, but had managed to get his message across, without being sanctioned, thanks to a skillful verbal ping-pong number, prepared with Democratic Senator Al Gore.

Breathtaking behind the scenes

The procrastination of the International Energy Agency (IEA), traced through the testimonies of Fatih Birol, its executive director, suggests that after decades of almost absolute reign and supported by major institutions, the time of fossil fuels is now over. John Kerry, the President of the United States’ special envoy for climate, insists that the blockades were the fruit of minorities, but very powerful.

Laurence Tubiana, architect of the 2015 Paris Agreement (one of the first great successes in favor of the fight against climate change) retraces the breathless backstage of the negotiations of these summits and outlines a possible future, as Europe begins to wean itself from its imports of gas and oil after the war in Ukraine.

Tomorrow we could ask future graduates to say how “Bin Laden and Putin have each had an effect on the climate struggle, one negative, the other positive. This exceptional film already provides some insight. “He is the only one, to date, to reveal the behind the scenes of this astounding but true story, spanning five decades.“, we value at France TV. By taking stock of climate action, it provides a vision for the future. It is an electric shock, an appeal for the coming decades, when the battle for the climate has become a geopolitical question of world peace and stability.S “.

The battle for the climate“(72 minutes), a film by Elena Sender and Alexis Barbier-Bouvet

The documentary scheduled for Sunday 6 November 2022 at 20:55 on the “Le Monde en face” program will be followed by a debate with Paloma Moritz, journalist, head of the Ecology – Blast division; Nabil Wakim, environmental specialist, Le Monde; Laurence Tubiana, Director of the European Climate Foundation; Yamina Sahed, IPCC expert, specialist in energy policies.

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