Politics vs the Long Term

A very informative event yesterday. A couple of exchanges highlighted the challenges that politicians face when presenting foresight:

1.      In Luxemburg, it became very clear that those who use econometric projections believe that a green transition is possible without any great change in society, and that continued economic growth is necessary to achieve emission reductions. (Although, this was later nuanced by saying that much of the growth would be services). This ran head-on into one of the fundamental learnings of the foresight process we ran in Luxemburg in 2022: this established that we are no longer in an era of cheap energy (and material) resources. As Hans van der Loo pointed out, resources will still be available, but their “energy remoteness” (amount of energy per Kg of extraction) is going through the roof. Hence “when the energy fundamentals change, so must the economic models.” Biophysical boundaries mean we need a new economic model. But clearly, if you are a minister, and these two different messages (econometric vs foresight) are being made public, you will be under great pressure (especially from industry) to choose the “comforting” message, that you can keep on doing what you have been doing for the last 100 years…
2.      A company boss asked if Luxemburg’s political system was particularly poorly adapted to thinking long term – he rightly pointed out that no minister would be around in 20 years’ time to see the benefits of doing something that causes pain today. Hans van der Loo added that this was the political equivalent of NIMBY – it is called NIMTO (Not In My Term of Office). I fear that this problem is not unique to Luxemburg.

Even more kudos therefore to Franz Fayot for making the effort to start a debate about the real future challenges, rather than staying in the day-to-day politics and a big thank you to Pascale Junker and the team at Luxembourg Strategy.

foresight-to-strategy, lively event, vision