Climate Change Is Real. Now What Should We Do About It?

(23-04-2021) This question will be the focus of the first debate of the Etienne Vermeersch Chair, which will be broadcast live from Vooruit on 11 May.

The science is settled: our climate is rapidly warming and humans are (largely) responsible. Fossil fuels have brought unprecedented levels of wealth and prosperity, but they are also pushing our climate out of balance. If we don’t bring down our greenhouse gas emissions, we risk reaching dangerous levels of warming within a few decades. 

Even though there is no longer any scientific debate about the reality of man-made global warming, the debate about the right remedies continues unabated. What are the best policies and strategies to bring down emissions and avert climate disaster? How should we reconcile climate action with economic development and the fight against poverty? Some believe that economic growth is still the way forward, others believe the time has come for de-growth. But what about developing countries and their growing energy needs? And how do we find the right balance between climate adaptation (preparing for a warmer world) and climate mitigation (slashing emissions)? Do we already have all the solutions for bringing emissions down to zero, or do we need more technological innovation? And how bad, exactly, is each degree of warming going to be?

Challenge of the century

BlushelikopterClimate change promises to be the defining challenge of the century. Young people, in particular, have an important stake in this debate, because the future is theirs. What do you think is the way forward? You are invited to join our debate on 11 May 2021, organized by Ghent University, together with our panel of international experts:

  • Opha Pauline Dube (Professor of Environmental Science at Botswana University, lead author and contributing of several IPCC reports (Working Group II)
  • Ted Nordhaus (American environmental policy expert, director of The Breakthrough Institute, Time Magazine's Hero of the Environment)
  • Mark Lynas (British environmental activist, journalist and author of Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet (2020)).
  • Jean-Pascal van Ypersele (Professor of Climate and Environmental Sciences at University of Louvain, former vice-president of IPCC)

The discussion will be moderated by science journalist Desiree Hoving. We value your participation, so you will be given the opportunity to take part in votes and ask questions to our panel. Don’t miss this unique event!

Etienne Vermeersch

This public debate is an initiative of Maarten Boudry, current holder of the Etienne Vermeersch Chair at Ghent University, which was recently established in honor of the Flemish philosopher and freethinker Etienne Vermeersch (1934 - 2019). With his book De ogen van de panda (The Panda’s Eyes), Vermeersch made an indelible mark on the environmentalist movement in Flanders, analyzing the conflict between modern industrial societies and the environment.

Practical information

The debate ‘Climate change is real. Now what should we do about it?’ is live-streamed from Vooruit in Ghent on Tuesday 11 May, 2021 (19:00-21:00). Access is free.

Follow the debate via the livestream.

Read more about the importance of this debate in an interview with Maarten Boudry on