“When a court listens to scientists, it acquits.” This is the slogan displayed under the thromboscope of the six signatories of the ad printed on an entire page of the newspaper 24 hours this Monday, November 22nd. A confirmation – which also covers the title of an article in the Vaudois daily dated March 24 – which is addressed to the court in Lausanne, where the trial against 12 climate activists will take place over the next two days. This platform, especially carried by academics and addressed directly to “Mr. Judge”, is amazing.
The six disappeared
As one of them is Bertrand Kiefer, editor-in-chief of Swiss Medical Journal, on the air at La Matinale de la RTS this morning, this ad marks the support of scientists for the defendants. They participated in a civil disobedience action on March 15, 2019, occupying the premises of Retraites Populaires to condemn their investments in fossil fuels. They will be defended by 12 pro bono lawyers, but regret that “only one of the seven prestigious witnesses proposed by the defense will be heard by the judge,” the Climate Action Network notes in its November 4 press release.
Today’s campaign has just been signed by the other six. Namely: Bertrand Kiefer, climatologist and professor at ETHZ Sonia Seneviratne, climatologist and professor at the University of Neuchâtel and at the Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research Martine Rebetez, researcher in ecological economics and professor at the University of Lausanne Julia Steinberger, researcher at the social psychology laboratory at Unil Oriane Sarrasin and the leader of the Swiss climate alliance and pension fund expert Sandro Leuenberger.
Two of the signatories are affiliated with Unil. Is it a problem? “Speaking out is something we are in favor of because scientists are sufficiently criticized for remaining in their ivory tower,” said Géraldine Falbriard, a spokeswoman for the press. In this case, it is not the institution that is speaking, but researchers. from a theme that falls within their area of expertise.As signatories, it is normal for them to indicate their workplace.For us, there is no worry that they are engaging in the city on a vision they have about a topic they are mastering.
Through this ad, he and they condemn the “scale of the current climate crisis, the dramatic weakness of the measures taken, and the importance of social movements in light of the resignation of the economy and politics in this area.” A criticism whose cost of RTS is estimated at 7700 francs. Who paid? “It’s not me,” replies Bertrand Kiefer. It is certainly the organizations that encourage us like Greenpeace, Doctors For XR or the Grandparents of the Climate.
Asked about their motives, the editor of Swiss Medical Journal states that “such litigation should not take place behind closed doors. As the climate emergency situation is based on scientific knowledge, it is important to show that we are with these young people and that they are right. We must not procrastinate anymore because global warming is a global problem. “
What is particularly surprising in this political campaign is the intrusion of university people into a lawsuit. “The court does its job, but is politicized, because it depends on a political vision,” he replies. We do not want to interfere in the separation of powers, but we can not leave these young people alone. “
However, all the acquittals of climate activists have been overturned by the federal court. “If we recognize the existence of the emergency, the tone changes, he assures. As scientists, we can remember the climate crisis and the consequences we can already observe, as well as those that will grow extremely rapidly. Ecosystems are disturbed and heat waves, droughts, floods, infectious or new diseases are rising.
This publicity also implies that the signatories support civil disobedience. Is it correct? “Democracy is also a societal debate,” Bertrand Kiefer answers again. These young people are not fighting for pay rises or cultural places, but for the good of humanity. And they are using democratic means to do that. “