This year the Warsaw European Forum is accompanied by a unique seminar, which seeks to stir the discussion and expand on the topics raised during the conference – the climate crisis and ‘green’ liberalism.
The point of departure for our discussion is the dual challenge to the liberal ideal of freedom posed by the conjuncture of the COVID-19 pandemic and the increasingly pressing climate crisis. In the aftermath of the pandemic shock and in the face of increasing environmental pressure, what is the future for freedom, both economic and political? Does the coordinated response of European Union member states lead us to a ‘planned economy’ or is it merely a long belated correction of globalization and a capitalist system gone astray, which sparked these crises in the first place? Following the response to COVID-19 which involved political exceptionalism and top-down restrictions on individual freedom, we might also worry about similar limitations to our lifestyles, mobility and established habits justified by climate change mitigation. At the same time, a broader responsibility for societies, local communities, vulnerable individuals and finally–the planetary system–requires self-limitation. How can liberalism strike a new balance between individual freedoms and responsibility? When is state coercion a threat to freedom and when is it an unavoidable corrective that protects citizens from asocial libertarianism and anarchy? Finally – what is the promise of the European Green Deal vision? Is it merely a technocratic plan which will further boost the power of European Commission bureaucrats or to the contrary – a hope for turning European societies towards sustainability, justice, and the revival of liberal democracy following the hard blows sustained from populist challengers in the last decade?
Ralf Fücks (Center for Liberal Modernity) and Dr. Kacper Szulecki (University of Oslo) will introduce the topic and present their views on a “green” liberalism which can respond to these new challenges. However, the ultimate aim of the seminar is to give the floor first and foremost to its participants. We hope to develop a mutual understanding of liberalism’s future and identity in the times of climate crisis, COVID-19 pandemic and various solutions, like the European Green Deal.
11.00-12.00 Webinar, Part I
Input for the discussion: Ralf Fücks
12.15-13.15 Webinar, Part II
Input for the discussion and summary of the first part: Kacper Szulecki