The Balearic Islands have a new climate law. “There are, however, foundational challenges”
Morten Byskov, Jeroen Hopster and Júlia Isern Bennassar in The Conversation
The Mediterranean is among the most climate vulnerable regions in the world, Morten Byskov, Jeroen Hopster, and Júlia Isern Bennassar write in The Conversation. Now in April, the Parliament of the Balearic Islands passed a law to protect the wellbeing of present and future generations. “However, the law needs to overcome some foundational challenges.”
The Balearic Islands, comprising Mallorca, Ibiza, and other islands, are highly dependent on emissions-heavy industries and have limited access to resources themselves, write Byskov, Hopster, and Isern Bennassar. These problems are intertwined with the islands’s over-tourism and make movement towards a green transition hard. To overcome these and other challenges, the Balearic Islands plan to set up a special commission.
That commission will also have to deal with one of the other major challenges: balancing interests. What is in the best interest of future generations, such as limiting the number of tourists, is likely to clash with the interest of the present generation, which might suffer economic losses. “Such restrictions should take into account that safeguarding the wellbeing of present generations is an equally important part of the Commission’s task.”
And that will be tricky, the authors think. After all, how can future generations be represented? And how do you define the 'welfare' of current and future generations at all? These are ethical questions that are difficult to answer. “The Commission must therefore address the wider question of what it means to be able to lead lives that are both sustainable and satisfying, and what social and political obstacles there are to such lifestyles.”
Despite the challenges, Byskov, Hopster and Isern Bennassar are hopeful. Among other things, they praise the commitment and the fact that the commission is required by law to be interdisciplinary. “The Commission would do well to give representatives of the most socially and climate vulnerable communities in the Balearic Islands a prominent voice.”
If properly implemented, they believe, the law could not only ensure the Balearic Islands as a habitable area, but even improve the living situation of many of its inhabitants. “By addressing the key challenges, its proponents can seize this opportunity to strengthen the law and inform the proposed Commission on how to represent the best interests of those whom it is meant to protect.”