“This is all wrong. I should be back in school at the other side of the Ocean. Yet, you come to us young people for hope. How dare you?” These words spoken by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg at the UN Climate Summit 2019 in New York have recently gained attention throughout the world. She made a clear statement: Political leaders, enterprises and institutions are adjourning the decisive questions of how to fight climate change to the next generations. But there is no time for such postponements. Climate change is happening now, and we must all take action.
Karlshochschule International University as an institution is taking its responsibility for climate change action very seriously. And yes, recently they have heavily supported the Fridays for Future movement by encouraging students and staff to join demonstrations. Even Friday classes are cancelled to make participation possible. This is a giant, noble and noteworthy step. But is it enough? What can we collectively do more as the Karlshochschule community? What do our humanitarian values oblige us to? Do we act as role models for other institutions through leading by example?
A good, first step in the right direction – let’s not stop here
Collectively joining the Fridays for Future protests shows that there is the motivation for change within the Karls community. But if we restrict our good intentions only to the demonstrations and fail to break out of our habits of living, to different extents, unsustainable lifestyles, we might have to question ourselves. What can we do more collectively? Admittingly, not a majority of the people are joining the demonstrations. There is still room for improvement. Ergo, there must be an ambition to motivate more people. This goes together with pushing debates. We must intellectually challenge the status-quo and provide new social and political solutions. This might not happen without recognising that climate change is our most urgent problem and therefore must be put atop the agenda.
On the practical side, Karlshochschule has to become Carbon-Neutral. This includes little steps: Ending the paper-waste, encouraging lecturers to find sustainable means of travelling when coming to Karlshochschule, purchasing electricity which is produced C02 free, offering food which has the least carbon-footprint. There are many more ways to save C02, which eventually paint a whole picture: Becoming an eco-friendly institution.
Being part of the Karlscommunity comes with special responsibilities
Our responsibility to do more also is grounded in our very own commitments. We present ourselves as an institution guided by humanitarian values of assuming responsibility and serving others and the society. These commitments must clearly be applied when it comes to environmental protection. Taking action against climate change to our fullest possibilities means providing the basis for future generations to come to live a bearable life on this planet. Karlshochschule has an ideological responsibility they must apprehend and exercise. Our Motto Rethinking Management can be extended further: Rethinking society.
The impact Karlshochschule as an Institution can have by leading through example may not be disregarded. We can make the first step other institutions yet hesitate to do. We can strengthen coalitions, as recently was done by joining Aktionsbündnis Klimaschutz Karlsruhe. But of main importance is to show others that climate protection is something which can go hand in hand with functioning of an institution.
Article by Christoph Ilg *CI (Karls Storytellers)