Isabella Levin begins her speech by paying tribute to the fauna in her native municipality of Vermejo, in the Stockholm Archipelago.
“I see the sea eagle almost every day. The fox crept in almost every night, and the deer. I lay on the bridge and met a curious perch between the boards, enjoying all the butterflies and hops that make the concessions full of life. She enjoyed the ocean, of course, she says.
Then speech becomes secondary.
“This is what distinguishes what scientists call the Anthropocene. That we are now so many people on earth with such large ecological footprints that humanity is now a major driver of change for the life of our planet. At the same time, one million other species are threatened with extinction.
"The excess of nature is gone and we live on credit"
She mentions that on July 29th, it was World Overcoming Day, the day on which Earth's population subsequently lived on its assets.
– There is no surplus of nature and we live on credit. We are increasing the environmental debt that is already mortgaging the world far beyond the chimneys. And far out into the depths of the sea, where banknotes float around in the form of plastic debris and microplastics remind us of debt, as a threat to food owners who appear on a dark alley at night, says Isabella Levin.
It continues to draw parallels between the economy and the climate, paraphrasing Goran Person's quote: "Whoever has debt is not free."
– In our society, we are encouraged to disregard our assets. Don't blame us for the roof. It is a guiding principle for economic policy. We know that low debt today makes us stronger on the day the economic crisis comes. It is equally true that one who is invested in environmental debt is not free.
Levin's commitment to the Baltic Sea made him a politician
She emphasizes the Baltic Sea she has behind her during her speech.
– Here we have one of the already destroyed ecosystems in the world. Right behind me. When I was born, about 125,000 tonnes of cod were caught in the Baltic Sea in 1963. That figure was pretty stable in the early 1900s, except during the war, of course. There was so much that the sea could provide for sustainability. This was approximately the interest rate on the capital stock of cod.
She says that fishing for cod in the Baltic Sea has tripled by the mid-1980s.
– In the 1990s, alarms began to sound. The catch began to diminish. In 2002, when they were reduced to half of what was normal in the 1960s, despite much more boats and much more efficient fishing methods, researchers say. Fishing had to be stopped. Some of you may remember that the Green Party was the party that acted on the advice of the researchers. Back in 2002, the Environmental Party demanded cod fishing in the Baltic Sea, says Isabella Levin.
Levin: The rescue of the Baltic Sea came late
She recounts how she viewed the issue of fishing as a journalist, wrote the book The Pacific Sea on the situation in the Baltic Sea, and launched a policy to change EU fisheries policy, which blocks the Swedish fishing emergency.
– We were able to get new legislation in the EU stating that by 2020 all stocks should be extracted sustainably and that the advice of researchers should be followed. For a while it seemed that the Baltic Sea would recover thanks to reduced quotas, but today I can say with the greatest sadness that the reversal came too late. Capital, that is, the biomass of older fish, has never been as low as it is now.
It then draws the Baltic's attention to the global climate.
– The month of July this year was the hottest in human history. The melting of Greenland's glaciers never went as fast as this summer, two hundred billion tons of water melted in a month, and on August 1, 12.5 billion tons of water melted in one day – sea level all over the globe now it is raised by half mm. The worst forest fires ever erupted in the Arctic this year, last year it burned in Sweden, this year it burns in Greenland. The worldwide combined research team says that we have a climate situation and that we need to act now, there is nothing more to worry about.
"You can't take selfies and pay tribute to Greta"
– The boundaries of the planet should not be broken. Emissions must be reduced. Existing operations must put an end to fossil fuels and restructure production, and fantastic work is already underway in both industry and the transport sector. But we need to be clear and acknowledge that this will be a time of difficult decisions we have to face.
She stresses the enormous impact of 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, but believes that increased climate awareness is also binding.
“You can't take selfies and pay tribute to Greta without being prepared to make difficult historical decisions, even if it affects financial interests. One cannot acknowledge the absolute weight of research and the situation and then talk about decisions that have been around for decades or place the responsibility of other countries. The climate crisis is here and now and everyone is responsible.
It warns economic and political forces that want to separate
She warns climate skeptics who, in her view, are driven by economic and political interests and seek to separate.
– The forces that want to grow in conflict in society are stepping up. They want to separate us. So hatred and ridicule and suspicion. They are fueled by growing inequality, with many feeling uneasy about globalization and digitalization and staying out. But they are also very aware of the economic and political interests they have to gain from the loss of power in the oil and fossil industries. Interests in the Middle East, the US and last but not least in Russia.
– New fossil investments slow down the transition and are based on environmental debt, which increases the risks of ecosystem collapse, of course. Socially sustainable change – it's change now! Waiting only benefits the richest and only affects the poorest and poorest, says Isabella Levin.
"Researchers can't decide this alone"
She believes that all people, not just researchers, have to pull their straw to the stack to solve environmental problems.
– No, researchers can't decide for themselves – especially if we don't listen to them. We must turn to ourselves. Everyone does a little, at work, at school, at home, in politics. There is no path to a sustainable society, there are a hundred paths – and we must walk them all.