Holyrood 350 — H35O

4 Action Points For Holyrood To Avert Climate Chaos

H350 Response to Scottish Climate Change Bill

This was the Holy­rood 350 response to Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment con­sul­ta­tions in 2009 that fol­lowed the pub­li­ca­tion of the Scot­tish Cli­mate Change Bill, a Bill which became the Cli­mate Change (Scot­land) Act of 2009:


Holy­rood 350 applauds the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment for the world lead­er­ship it has shown, not only in estab­lish­ing this 80% reduc­tion tar­get for 2050, but in estab­lish­ing oth­er imag­i­na­tive ini­tia­tives — such as the £27 mil­lion Cli­mate Chal­lenge Fund — to com­bat Cli­mate Change.

Holy­rood 350 brings togeth­er peo­ple who are active­ly work­ing to reduce their com­mu­ni­ties’ car­bon foot­print through relo­cal­i­sa­tion. Many of these ini­tia­tives have received fund­ing from the Scot­tish Government’s inno­v­a­tive Cli­mate Chal­lenge Fund.

This sub­mis­sion focus­es only on the most fun­da­men­tal ques­tion, Ques­tion 1, and the pro­posed tar­get of 80% reduc­tion of GHG emis­sions in Scot­land by 2050 and 50% by 2030.

Ques­tion 1: The Bill cre­ates a statu­to­ry frame­work for green­house gas emis­sions reduc­tions in Scot­land by set­ting a 50% reduc­tion tar­get for 2030 and an 80% reduc­tion tar­get for 2050.
What are your views on the 2050 tar­get and a 2030 inter­im tar­get pro­posed in the Bill?

When the Bill was first pro­posed the tar­get of 80% by 2050 was ground­break­ing, how­ev­er it is now clear that: Scot­land needs to achieve a reduc­tion of 100% by 2029 and 10% by 2011 to show the cli­mate change lead­er­ship the world needs in order to start the race out of car­bon, and to place us in pole posi­tion to take advan­tage of that race.


Scot­land must achieve a 100% reduc­tion in emis­sions by 2029 and 10% by June 2011, pri­mar­i­ly, but not only, because the Sci­ence says ever more emphat­i­cal­ly that we must.

Why does the proposed bill ask Scotland to aim for 80% by 2050?

The Scot­tish Cli­mate Change Bill’s pro­posed reduc­tion tar­gets reflect Lord Turner’s Cli­mate Change Committee’s cal­cu­la­tion that his­tor­i­cal­ly high emit­ting coun­tries like Scot­land must cut their emis­sions by 80% by 2050. This is in order to con­tribute to a Glob­al reduc­tion of 50% by 2050, in order to sta­bilise the cli­mate and pre­vent run­away cli­mate chaos.

Why does the IPCC 2007 Report mean we should aim for 95% [not 80%] by 2050?

The cur­rent Scot­tish Cli­mate Change Bill, the EU, the UK and the IPCC have all accept­ed the sci­en­tif­ic assess­ment that – in order to pre­vent run­away cli­mate chaos — warm­ing should not exceed 2°C above pre-indus­tri­al lev­els. The IPCC’s 2007 Fourth Assess­ment Report states that, in order to lim­it glob­al tem­per­a­ture rise to 2°C, glob­al emis­sions must fall by 85% [not 50%] by 2050, a fall which would lead to con­cen­tra­tions of CO2 in the atmos­phere of approx­i­mate­ly 450ppm. It is acknowl­edged by all the rel­e­vant reports that glob­al emis­sions cuts can only be achieved through glob­al equi­ty (i.e. through appor­tion­ing the same rights to emit to all peo­ple in the world), so this Glob­al tar­get of 85% required to keep us below 2°C can clear­ly only be met by coun­tries such as Scot­land mak­ing cuts of 95% or more by 2050.

Why does the science now say we must aim for 100% [not 80%] by 2029 [not 2050]?

The 2007 IPCC report was, how­ev­er, based on sci­en­tif­ic find­ings and mod­el­ling from 2006 and ear­li­er. Since then, the range of pos­si­ble future sce­nar­ios on which the IPCC bases its tar­gets, have been left behind by sub­se­quent empir­i­cal evi­dence. What is now clear is that process­es such as Arc­tic melt­ing, methane being released from beneath the melt­ing per­mafrost, and the weak­en­ing of the abil­i­ty of the oceans, forests and soil to absorb car­bon, are all hap­pen­ing far faster than the IPCC pre­dict­ed. Fur­ther­more, since these process­es are both the result of glob­al warm­ing and them­selves ampli­fy that warm­ing, it is dan­ger­ous to think – as Gov­ern­ments, sci­en­tists and cam­paign­ers have done up until now — that a cer­tain lev­el of warm­ing is ‘safe’ and to then aim to restrict the emis­sions increas­es and degrees of warm­ing to that lev­el.

Once the ‘pos­i­tive’ feed­back loops start to kick in, it will be extreme­ly hard to stop them sim­ply ampli­fy­ing them­selves in ever-accel­er­at­ing feed­back loops, how­ev­er much we cut our green­house gas [GHG] emis­sions. For exam­ple, where the IPCC pre­dict­ed an Arc­tic ocean ice-free in sum­mer by the end of the cen­tu­ry, it is now pre­dict­ed this will hap­pen by 2011–2015, eighty years ahead of IPCC pre­dic­tions made in 2007 (Was­dell 2008, Cli­mate Safe­ty 2008).

articiceFig 1 “Sum­mer Arc­tic sea ice thus appears to be dis­ap­pear­ing more than 80 years ahead of the IPCC’s pre­dic­tion, even though this was made as recent­ly as 2007” Cli­mate Safe­ty (2008: 7)

Fur­ther­more, the melt­ing Arc­tic leads to less heat being reflect­ed back into space, which leads to greater warm­ing, which itself leads to more of the Arc­tic melt­ing, and so on, a process that at some point becomes entire­ly inde­pen­dent of our lev­el of GHG emis­sions, and a process that has a huge impact on the melt­ing of the Green­land ice sheets, sea lev­els, the ocean cur­rents, tem­per­a­ture increas­es, and so on. The key point is that we have to make a dra­mat­ic cut in the bulk of our GHG emis­sions now. If we are to slow and have a chance of stop­ping these run­away process­es, we must cre­ate a zero-car­bon, not low-car­bon, econ­o­my.

In Edin­burgh on 9th Feb­ru­ary 2009, Lord Adair Turn­er, Chair of the UK Government’s Cli­mate Change Com­mit­tee, gave one of Friends of the Earth Scotland’s ‘Build­ing a low-car­bon econ­o­my’ lec­tures, along­side Pro­fes­sor Jacque­line McGlade, head of the Euro­pean Envi­ron­ment Agency. Turn­er argued that meet­ing the com­mit­ment to reduce our emis­sions by 80% by 2050 would only cost us 1–2% of GDP. In the light of the dis­turb­ing sci­en­tif­ic find­ings pre­sent­ed in the lec­ture giv­en by McGlade straight after Turn­er spoke, Turn­er was asked why it would not make more sense to accept a high­er cost than 1–2% GDP in return for a bet­ter chance of avoid­ing cat­a­stroph­ic cli­mate change. His answer was that if we fol­lowed his com­mit­tees advice and sought to sta­bilise at an increase of 2.4°C, then we would avoid cat­a­stroph­ic cli­mate change, and if the sci­ence was now say­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent then that would have to be reviewed, prob­a­bly in a cou­ple of years time.

The sci­ence clear­ly is say­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent. It is say­ing that cur­rent tar­gets will guar­an­tee cat­a­stro­phe; and not just cat­a­stro­phe for poor peo­ple in poor coun­tries, but cat­a­stroph­ic cli­mate change and pos­si­ble extinc­tion for us all (Was­dell 2008, PIRC 2008). For exam­ple, Kevin Ander­son of the Tyn­dall Cen­tre for Cli­mate Change Research argues that cur­rent nego­ti­a­tions for glob­al agree­ments will guar­an­tee lev­els of GHG in the atmos­phere that will guar­an­tee cat­a­stro­phe. He con­cludes that
“it is increas­ing­ly unlike­ly any glob­al agree­ment will deliv­er the rad­i­cal rever­sal in emis­sion trends required for sta­bi­liza­tion at 450 ppmv car­bon diox­ide equiv­a­lent (CO2e). Sim­i­lar­ly, the cur­rent fram­ing of cli­mate change can­not be rec­on­ciled with the rates of mit­i­ga­tion nec­es­sary to sta­bi­lize at 550 ppmv CO2e and even an opti­mistic inter­pre­ta­tion sug­gests sta­bi­liza­tion much below 650 ppmv CO2e is improb­a­ble. (http://www.tyndall.ac.uk/publications/journal_papers/fulltext.pdf)

At the ‘Build­ing a low-car­bon econ­o­my’ lec­tures in Edin­burgh ear­li­er this month, it was put to Lord Turn­er that, under the cur­rent rec­om­men­da­tions of the Cli­mate Change Com­mit­tee, and accord­ing to their own cal­cu­la­tions, he had cal­cu­lat­ed that our grand­chil­dren will have a greater than evens chance of find­ing them­selves in what Turn­er calls the “dan­ger zone” of 2°C of warm­ing and a 1 in 100 chance of find­ing them­selves in what he calls the “extreme dan­ger zone” of 4°C of warm­ing. From the report’s descrip­tions of the like­ly impacts of 4°C, It was point­ed out that 4 degrees could quite prop­er­ly be referred to as the “death zone”, and Turn­er was asked: what per­cent­age of our own, our children’s and our grandchildren’s income do we think most of us would be pre­pared to sac­ri­fice to reduce those risks to say 1 in 10 and 1 in 1000 respec­tive­ly? The ques­tion­ers guess was that it would be more than 1–2%.

Is the Climate Crisis a greater emergency than a World War?

Where even the IPCC’s 2007 fore­casts would require Scot­land to aim for GHG reduc­tions of above 95% by 2050, the emerg­ing sci­ence calls for us to urgent­ly stop and reverse the dri­ve for forms of eco­nom­ic growth which require us to con­tin­u­al­ly accel­er­ate the extrac­tion of car­bon from the ground to pass through our econ­o­my and into the atmos­phere.

Lord Stern’s and Lord Turner’s idea that one can effec­tive­ly con­tin­ue with busi­ness as usu­al, while “sta­bil­is­ing” green­house gas emis­sions and the tem­per­a­ture increase at 550ppm or 450ppm is clear­ly an approach made out­dat­ed by the accu­mu­lat­ing sci­en­tif­ic find­ings on the ground and the sci­en­tif­ic under­stand­ing of the nature of accel­er­at­ing feed­back loops. The recent PIRC Cli­mate Safe­ty (2008) report, for exam­ple, demon­strates that 550ppm and 450ppm are points on an avalanche of pos­i­tive feed­backs, an avalanche that would over­whelm the pow­er of human inter­ven­tion to stop run­away cli­mate change.

survivalFig 2. “The crit­i­cal thresh­old is rep­re­sent­ed by the wall, the wall beyond which we must not pass if we are to have any hope of re-sta­bil­is­ing the cli­mate. Busi­ness as usu­al takes us over the hill and through that wall into a cat­a­stro­phe. Cur­rent Kyoto strat­e­gy slows it down a bit, but we end up in the same place. The inter­ven­tion that is required is one that slows down the feed­back sys­tem, slows down the rise in tem­per­a­ture and holds us this side of the crit­i­cal thresh­old until the tem­per­a­ture rise stops.” David Was­dell (2008: 8 ) Accel­er­at­ed Cli­mate Change and the task of sta­bil­i­sa­tion. West­min­ster Brief­ing 5

It is for this rea­son that cli­mate sci­en­tists like James Hansen say that a safe lev­el of CO2 in the atmos­phere is some­where below 350ppm and we are already at 387 with glob­al tem­per­a­ture change accel­er­at­ing as the run­away process starts (Hansen 2008). Oth­ers, such as Pro­fes­sor Joachim Schellnhu­ber, head of the Pots­dam Insti­tute and cli­mate advis­er to Ger­man Chan­cel­lor and the EU, told the Guardian (David Adam, 15th Sep­tem­ber 2008) that only a return to pre-indus­tri­al lev­els of CO2 would be enough to guar­an­tee a safe future for the plan­et . He said even a small increase in tem­per­a­ture could trig­ger one of sev­er­al cli­mat­ic tip­ping points, such as methane released from melt­ing per­mafrost, and bring much more severe glob­al warm­ing.

That means that to have any hope of avert­ing a mas­sive extinc­tion event we have to take CO2 out of the atmos­phere by rapid­ly reduc­ing our emis­sions to zero, while pro­tect­ing and enhanc­ing the resilience of the soils, oceans and forests to act as car­bon sinks to – over decades — draw down the CO2 already emit­ted. This is a far greater glob­al emer­gency than even a World War, since the very sur­vival of our species is at stake. As Bri­an Dav­ey points out: enter­ing into a world war (in this case a ‘war against cli­mate change’) involves no guar­an­tee that you will see vic­to­ry, and it isn’t done on the basis of cost ben­e­fit cal­cu­la­tions. You enter it because you have no choice, and — pulling togeth­er — you try every­thing pos­si­ble to suc­ceed (Dav­ey ‘From the Green New Deal to a War on Cli­mate Change’ 26 Feb 2009).

In World War Two Britain man­aged the huge switch in resource allo­ca­tion that is required when peo­ple acknowl­edge there is an emer­gency and start work­ing togeth­er. In World War Two mil­i­tary out­lays (as per cent of UK nation­al income) rose from 15% in 1939 to 53% in 1941 (Dav­ey 2008). This is the scale of resource redi­rec­tion required, a redi­rec­tion which would – as in pre­vi­ous world wars — also cre­ate full employ­ment and social cohe­sion, and – if approached through poli­cies such as those rec­om­mend­ed below – also cre­ate an inter­na­tion­al lev­el play­ing field for zero-car­bon economies and so sup­port the emer­gence of resilient com­mu­ni­ties inter­act­ing to build sus­tain­abil­i­ty through equi­ty, since sur­vival for any one is only ensured through ensur­ing sur­vival for all.

It is impor­tant to recog­nise the absolute cen­tral­i­ty of equi­ty to com­bat­ing cli­mate change. Turn­er, Stern, McGlade and all who have analysed the sit­u­a­tion are clear that con­trol­ling cli­mate change requires a glob­al­ly equi­table approach, if peo­ple in poor­er coun­tries are to par­tic­i­pate in solv­ing a prob­lem that has his­tor­i­cal­ly been brought about by the actions and economies of the nations which have become wealthy through such action and economies.

Turn­er writes that “it is dif­fi­cult to imag­ine a glob­al deal which allows devel­oped coun­tries to have emis­sions per capi­ta in 2050 which are sig­nif­i­cant­ly above a sus­tain­able glob­al aver­age” (2008: 2), and there­fore, “a fair glob­al deal will require the UK to cut emis­sions by at least 80% below 1990 lev­els by 2050” (2008: 1). How­ev­er, he adds that “The good news is that reduc­tions of that size are pos­si­ble with­out sac­ri­fic­ing the ben­e­fits of eco­nom­ic growth and ris­ing pros­per­i­ty” (2008: 1, empha­sis added). It appears pos­si­ble to deduce that his Com­mit­tee call­ing for only an 80% cut by 2050 (despite the cal­cu­la­tions of his own com­mit­tee and those of the IPCC) may have been more to do with Turner’s per­cep­tion of the polit­i­cal­ly pos­si­ble, rather than a sober esti­mate of action com­men­su­rate with the sci­ence. As will be dis­cussed below, the polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic Glob­al sit­u­a­tion has been trans­formed over the last twelve months, and what may have appeared polit­i­cal­ly impos­si­ble – the reg­u­la­tion and redi­rec­tion of the finan­cial sys­tem – may have become polit­i­cal­ly inevitable as a result of the ongo­ing finan­cial melt­down. The fact that what so recent­ly appeared polit­i­cal­ly impos­si­ble may now be polit­i­cal­ly inevitable can pro­vide us with some hope that we can make it polit­i­cal­ly pos­si­ble to take the rad­i­cal steps need­ed to com­bat cli­mate change.

NASA’s James Hansen and his col­leagues argue that:
“Con­tin­ued growth of green­house gas emis­sions for just anoth­er decade prac­ti­cal­ly elim­i­nates the pos­si­bil­i­ty of near term return of atmos­pher­ic com­po­si­tion beneath the tip­ping lev­el for cat­a­stroph­ic effects. If human­i­ty wish­es to pre­serve a plan­et sim­i­lar to that on which civil­i­sa­tion devel­oped and to which life on Earth is adapt­ed, pale­o­cli­mate evi­dence and ongo­ing cli­mate change sug­gest that CO2 must be reduced from its cur­rent 385ppm to at most 350ppm. Remain­ing fos­sil reserves should not be exploit­ed with­out a plan for retrieval and dis­pos­al of the result­ing atmos­pher­ic CO2”.

James Hansen et al. “Tar­get Atmos­pher­ic CO2: Where Should Human­i­ty Aim?” April 2008 (http://arxiv.org/pdf/0804.1126)

There­fore, as the Novem­ber 2008 Cli­mate Safe­ty (www.climatesafety.org) assess­ment makes clear, we must aim for 100% reduc­tions in our GHG emis­sions with­in 20 years – by 2029 – and we must kick start this process by tak­ing the rel­a­tive­ly easy steps which will enable us to reduce our emis­sions by at least 10% below 1990 lev­els by June 2011. Rel­a­tive­ly easy steps, but accom­pa­nied by a com­plete reori­en­ta­tion from mea­sur­ing GNP in terms that reflect the through­put of car­bon through the econ­o­my to ensur­ing indi­vid­ual, fam­i­ly and com­mu­ni­ty sur­vival and well-being.


How can Scot­land achieve a 10% reduc­tion by 2011 and 100% by 2029, and so show the lead­er­ship the world needs to start the race out of car­bon (and can, as a result, pre­pare us for Peak Oil and revi­talise the Econ­o­my at the same time)?

Man-made cli­mate change is the con­se­quence of indus­tri­al activ­i­ty, and accel­er­at­ing cli­mate change emis­sions are dri­ven by bas­ing our econ­o­my on fos­sil fuel use, and on an approach which mea­sures GNP in terms that reflect the through­put of car­bon through the econ­o­my. Since even the Inter­na­tion­al Ener­gy Author­i­ty (which, up until it’s 2008 report, was deny­ing that Peak Oil was any­thing oth­er than a dis­tant even­tu­al­i­ty) now admits that Peak Oil is fast approach­ing , the action we have to take to stop accel­er­at­ing cli­mate change is action which can also pre­pare us for a world in which fos­sil fuels are no longer cheap and eas­i­ly avail­able.

We are there­fore ask­ing the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment to act with oth­er gov­ern­ments (or, if oth­er Gov­ern­ments are unwill­ing, then we are ask­ing the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment to demo­c­ra­t­i­cal­ly secure the pow­er) to demon­strate glob­al and pre-emp­tive lead­er­ship, by imme­di­ate­ly and rapid­ly trans­form­ing Scot­land from an oil-depen­dent econ­o­my dri­ven by growth, to a sus­tain­able and resilient zero-car­bon econ­o­my guid­ed by the urgent need for sus­tain­abil­i­ty, equi­ty and long-term secu­ri­ty.

While inter­na­tion­al nego­ti­a­tions are focussed on whether we should hit the wall of dan­ger­ous cli­mate change at 60mph, 50mph or 40mph, we need instead to stop focus­ing on future tar­gets and start brak­ing fast so that we don’t hit the wall at all. To rephrase this in terms of David Wasdell’s rep­re­sen­ta­tion [Fig 2 above]:
(i) If our cur­rent emis­sions are set­ting up future feed­back loops which will take us over the ‘Crit­i­cal Thresh­old’ hill, then the ball of con­se­quences will roll down­hill towards the Earth’s 6th extinc­tion event with unstop­pable accel­er­a­tion.
(ii) If, how­ev­er, we devote a war-effort of col­lec­tive ener­gy to set­ting up and inten­si­fy­ing cur­rent action designed to decar­bonise the econ­o­my and soci­ety now, then we should still (just) have time to set up pos­i­tive feed­back loops whose impact on restrain­ing future tem­per­a­ture ris­es should cut in just in time to halt our rolling over and down that hill, although the sci­ence is now pret­ty clear that cur­rent cli­mate change relat­ed weath­er events will inten­si­fy, and we will inevitably be tee­ter­ing at the top of the hill as a con­se­quence of the cumu­la­tive effect of emis­sions which we have already pumped into the atmos­phere.

The longer we leave reduc­ing emis­sions the greater the cumu­la­tive impact, so the ques­tion is whether we are able to take action now to dra­mat­i­cal­ly reduce total emis­sions. The ques­tion will not be: whether we have man­aged to reduce total emis­sions by 60, 80 or 100% by 2050. The ques­tion is: how fast can we cre­ate a zero-car­bon econ­o­my and soci­ety now?

Where would this place us in relation to other economies?

The first key move is to recog­nise what the sci­ence is telling us, then to recog­nise that the steps which are tech­no­log­i­cal­ly, eco­nom­i­cal­ly and social­ly required of us will not only: (i) ensure our tech­nol­o­gy is at the cut­ting edge; (ii) place our econ­o­my in pole posi­tion to ben­e­fit from help­ing oth­er coun­tries to sub­se­quent­ly take the steps that – soon­er rather than lat­er – they are all going to have to fol­low us in tak­ing; but will also (iii) enable us to make our com­mu­ni­ties resilient and vibrant places to live.

A recent report by experts from Hewlett Packard and Forum for the Future (Cli­mate Futures: Respons­es to cli­mate change in 2030 — Octo­ber 2008) exam­ines five sharply dif­fer­ent sce­nar­ios for a 2030 world. Recog­nis­ing the grav­i­ty of the sit­u­a­tion — and that cli­mate change will be the back­drop to all busi­ness, polit­i­cal and human deci­sions over the com­ing decades — they make the busi­ness argu­ment for greater cli­mate change reg­u­la­tions now:

“Act­ing quick­ly is best for lib­er­al mar­kets. Some of the strongest objec­tions to address­ing cli­mate change have been that we will con­strain mar­kets, and hence our free­dom, at too high a cost. Peo­ple have feared that cli­mate change was a cov­er for rolling back the mar­ket reforms of the last decades. But in our sce­nar­ios, lib­er­al mar­ket-based solu­tions seem much less attrac­tive as time goes on than sta­tist respons­es. This puts a dif­fer­ent light on how to defend free­doms from mar­ket reforms. Advo­cates of lib­er­al mar­kets should act as soon as pos­si­ble, push­ing for a glob­al agree­ment with teeth, nation­al mea­sures that use finan­cial incen­tives, and the removal of mar­ket dis­tor­tions that encour­age unsus­tain­able and waste­ful resource use. The result may be a more con­strained mar­ket sys­tem than today, but the long-term alter­na­tive could be a des­per­ate turn to big gov­ern­ment and pro­tec­tion­ism” (2008: 69)

They go on to argue that ““the his­to­ri­ans of the future will call these the cli­mate change Years”. If we have not act­ed soon enough “they may look back at us with a com­plete lack of com­pre­hen­sion or even dis­gust, rather as we look back on slave-own­ers. Or if cli­mate change feels solved, or on the way to a solu­tion, they may look back on us as heroes.” (2008: 70). In argu­ing for tak­ing imme­di­ate steps now they add that: “steps tak­en now could open up pre­vi­ous­ly impos­si­ble or unimag­ined paths of hope for com­bat­ing cli­mate change” (2008: 68). The key dis­tinc­tion here is between (i) action which cre­ates hope through not only direct­ly reduc­ing emis­sions but also inad­ver­tent­ly sets up a range of unan­tic­i­pat­ed pos­i­tive knock on effects; and (ii) becom­ing paral­ysed either by despair or by hope that some­one else will do some­thing (or as Lord Turn­er remarked, para­phras­ing St Augus­tine on good­ness: Lord, make me car­bon neu­tral, but not yet).

Per­haps the most use­ful – if unex­pect­ed – metaphor for the sit­u­a­tion we have got our­selves into is that of the plane that took off from New York’s La Guardia air­port last month, and lost both engines due to the engines suck­ing in geese and los­ing all pow­er. The pilot cold have just thrown up his hands in hor­ror, or tried return­ing to La Guardia in the hope that he could make a more nor­mal land­ing. Instead he calm­ly and with com­plete focus took the plane down where he could: on the Hud­son Riv­er. The plane was wrecked; but every­one sur­vived. If, metaphor­i­cal­ly, the plane is an econ­o­my devot­ed to insa­tiable growth, and the geese are the inter­ven­tion of nature, the pilot is each of us who are alive today. To return to metaphors clos­er to Turner’s para­phras­ing of St Augus­tine, anoth­er way of con­cep­tu­al­is­ing this is to con­sid­er that such mir­a­cles do not just hap­pen; they are made through focused action.



The first and most cru­cial step we are call­ing on the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment to take is to price car­bon into and out of the econ­o­my, in order to dra­mat­i­cal­ly reduce and then stop car­bon being extract­ed from the ground to pass through the econ­o­my into the atmos­phere.

We call on the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment to intro­duce a scheme — by the time of the Copen­hagen sum­mit, Decem­ber 2009 — to ensure that high-car­bon prod­ucts, modes of trans­port, ener­gy sources and ser­vices, are fast replaced by zero-car­bon ones. The nec­es­sary rapid rise in the cost of high-car­bon options would be accom­pa­nied by the rapid devel­op­ment and shift to zero-car­bon ones.

‘Con­trac­tion and Con­ver­gence’ is the most wide­ly and glob­al­ly accept­ed frame­work for cap­ping and rapid­ly reduc­ing car­bon emis­sions to a lev­el com­pat­i­ble with the con­tin­u­a­tion of human and oth­er mam­malian life on the plan­et. It aims to con­tract (cap and reduce) emis­sions in a way which does not penalise those least respon­si­ble for emis­sions (the poor in the Glob­al South and North) but instead enables a con­ver­gence in which high emit­ters dra­mat­i­cal­ly reduce their emis­sions in a way which sup­ports low emit­ters to main­tain or attain a rea­son­able qual­i­ty of life. It is based on
(i) the sur­vival prin­ci­ple: reduc­ing emis­sions to an eco­log­i­cal­ly tol­er­a­ble lev­el; and
(ii) the equi­ty prin­ci­ple: reduc­ing them in a way which is social­ly tol­er­a­ble, i.e. accept­able to the major­i­ty world, since our lead­er­ship will be fruit­less unless they are will­ing to fol­low our lead in decar­bon­is­ing soci­ety.

‘Cap and Div­i­dend’ [or ’Cap and Share’] is a polit­i­cal­ly attrac­tive way for any coun­try to uni­lat­er­al­ly imple­ment ‘Con­trac­tion and Con­ver­gence’: it is a straight­for­ward way to rad­i­cal­ly reduce our emis­sions and cre­ate a far more ener­gy healthy, social­ly sta­ble and inter­na­tion­al­ly secure soci­ety. It is fis­cal­ly neu­tral, in that all the mon­ey raised through oil, gas and coal cor­po­ra­tions hav­ing to buy the right to bring car­bon into the econ­o­my will be redis­trib­uted – on an equal basis — to the whole pop­u­la­tion.

‘Cap and Div­i­dend’ is based on the fact that the atmos­phere is a glob­al com­mons which we all equal­ly rely on. It gives each per­son the right to the same pro­por­tion of over­all emis­sions which are reduced year on year, so reduc­ing our col­lec­tive emis­sions to zero and (if we ensure the resilience of car­bon absorb­ing oceans, forests and soils) over time allow­ing emis­sions already in the atmos­phere to be drawn down into these ‘sinks’.

Intro­duc­ing ‘Cap and Div­i­dend’ to Scot­land:

In the ‘Cap and Div­i­dend’ sys­tem the vast major­i­ty of the pop­u­la­tion are imme­di­ate­ly bet­ter off and only those who can afford it (the heavy emit­ters) are penalised for dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly pol­lut­ing the glob­al com­mons. Intro­duc­ing this sys­tem to Scot­land, would mean that those bring­ing car­bon into the econ­o­my (those very few com­pa­nies import­ing or pro­duc­ing coal/ oil/ gas/ cement etc) would take part in an annu­al auc­tion to buy the right to bring car­bon into the econ­o­my.

The extra price they have then paid is

(i) passed on to man­u­fac­tur­ers and oth­er users of the fos­sil fuel they bring into the econ­o­my, which leads to high­er prices for all those using those prod­ucts, ser­vices, modes of trans­porta­tion etc which have car­bon embed­ded in them; but the cash gen­er­at­ed from the auc­tion of these car­bon emis­sion per­mits is

(ii) passed on to the pop­u­la­tion at large (direct­ly into their bank or, prefer­ably, in terms of sta­bil­i­ty, their post office accounts) so that peo­ple can deal with the increase in prices. This means that (a) those using more than their fair share of car­bon are penalised because all such prices will have risen, while those using less (the great major­i­ty) will ben­e­fit with extra cash in their pock­et, and (b) pro­duc­ers will be imme­di­ate­ly encour­aged to devel­op non-car­bon based products/ services/ modes of trans­port, and avoid pro­duc­ing car­bon ones.

After a 3 year set­tling in peri­od, ‘Cap and Div­i­dend’ (www.capanddividend.org or www.capandshare.org) could – if nec­es­sary — then be sup­ple­ment­ed by peo­ple using Car­bon Cards (sim­i­lar to cred­it cards) to mon­i­tor their pur­chase of CO2 embed­ded goods and ser­vices (This is drawn from the ‘Trad­able Ener­gy Quo­ta’ sys­tem — http://www.teqs.net/). Those pur­chas­ing more car­bon than their fair share would now not only be pay­ing for it through the price of the goods pur­chased, but would also receive pro­por­tion­ate­ly less cash from the car­bon auc­tion div­i­dend. Those pur­chas­ing vast­ly more car­bon would start pay­ing into that div­i­dend fund them­selves (at an expo­nen­tial­ly increas­ing rate). Mean­while the great major­i­ty (those who bring in less CO2 than their fair share) would receive this extra cash from those bring­ing in more. As the rapid rise in the cost of high-car­bon options takes effect there would be a rapid devel­op­ment and shift to zero-car­bon ones. As the amount allowed into the econ­o­my is reduced year on year, our col­lec­tive emis­sions are reduced to zero.

ADVANTAGES: Polit­i­cal and Prac­ti­cal Advan­tages of ‘Cap and Div­i­dend’:

1. A vote win­ner in that
(i) it imme­di­ate­ly puts mon­ey in peo­ples’ pock­ets and leaves them to choose the low­er and zero-car­bon options if they wish.
(ii) it ensures that all the mon­ey from the auc­tion (and sub­se­quent­ly from heavy emit­ters) is passed on direct­ly to the vast major­i­ty of fam­i­lies and indi­vid­u­als; and, since none of he mon­ey will be kept by Gov­ern­ment, there is no way this could be mis­con­strued as a way of rais­ing Gov­ern­ment rev­enue.

2. Easy to use — It doesn’t require any­one to have to be involved in sell­ing car­bon shares. Its intro­duc­tion would involve peo­ple receiv­ing cash rather than a less attrac­tive car­bon ration (as pro­posed in the ‘Trad­able Ener­gy Quo­ta’ scheme — http://www.teqs.net/). How­ev­er, once the sys­tem was embed­ded, it could move beyond the sim­ple ‘Cap and Div­i­dend’ equal allo­ca­tion of cash, so that div­i­dends reflect car­bon use.

3. Mar­ket solu­tion – it doesn’t seek a dif­fer­ent polit­i­cal or eco­nom­ic game, it sim­ply changes the rules of the game so that the mar­ket has to inter­nalise the car­bon cost.

4. Trans­fer­able poten­tial — this sys­tem could eas­i­ly, if peo­ple wished and at a late date, be expand­ed to include the real costs of non-Fair­trade or non-Organ­ic prod­ucts in a sim­i­lar way which gave peo­ple mon­ey.

5. Tech­no­log­i­cal­ly inno­v­a­tive – the cer­tain­ty of the cap (the per­mit­ted lev­el of car­bon in the econ­o­my) being reduced rapid­ly year on year, would imme­di­ate­ly boost jobs and invest­ment in the devel­op­ment of zero-car­bon ener­gy, goods and ser­vices.

6. Cre­ates a lev­el play­ing field: Togeth­er with the Gov­ern­ment (i) reduc­ing ener­gy demand and ensur­ing 100% renew­able ener­gy, and (ii) re-reg­u­lat­ing and re-direct­ing finance (see 2 and 3 below), this pol­i­cy will cre­ate a lev­el play­ing field in which food and ener­gy, goods and ser­vices, will be pro­duced clos­er to home, help­ing build social­ly and eco­log­i­cal­ly healthy com­mu­ni­ties (see 4 below).

CHALLENGES: Polit­i­cal and Prac­ti­cal Chal­lenges of ‘Cap and Div­i­dend’

A. UK con­text: the Holy­rood Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment declared a tar­get of 80% CO2 reduc­tions by 2050 pri­or to Lon­don increas­ing its tar­get from 60% to 80%. Scot­land seek­ing to price car­bon out of the econ­o­my would cre­ate ten­sions with the West­min­ster Gov­ern­ment (unless they fol­low suit as rapid­ly as they did with the change from a 60% to 80% tar­get). UK law would not allow Scot­land to uni­lat­er­al­ly imple­ment such a sys­tem, but if peo­ple in Scot­land pow­er­ful­ly push to do so, this would put huge pres­sure on the UK Gov­ern­ment to again fol­low suit or to accept Scot­tish auton­o­my in this and relat­ed areas.

B. EU and WTO con­text: the EU and WTO could argue against us impos­ing strin­gent tax­es on car­bon embed­ded imports from coun­tries which do not have a sim­i­lar scheme. How­ev­er, such a tax would be nec­es­sary to cre­ate a lev­el play­ing field by lev­el­ling up inter­na­tion­al prac­tice, and would put pres­sure on oth­er EU coun­tries to aban­don the dis­cred­it­ed ‘Cap and Trade’ scheme which gave away free Car­bon Per­mits to the heav­i­ly emit­ting com­pa­nies allow­ing them to increase prof­its, increase emis­sions and increase prices for cit­i­zens who them­selves received no com­pen­sa­tion.

C. Impact of our re-local­i­sa­tion on the Glob­al South: Cheap prod­ucts from the Glob­al South would be priced out of our mar­ket through the require­ment that they inter­nalise their car­bon costs at source or, if not, have tax­es imposed on entry. How­ev­er: (i) inter­na­tion­al trade tends to main­tain unde­mo­c­ra­t­ic elites in pow­er who impov­er­ish peo­ple through tak­ing their land and/or pay­ing lit­tle for their labour. Remov­ing this source of such elite’s wealth, dimin­ish­es their pow­er, help­ing democ­ra­cy; and (ii) since these cheap prod­ucts exter­nalise social (not just ecological)l costs, Fair­trade schemes (point 4 above) could be intro­duced to address the social issues direct­ly.

Con­clu­sion — Pric­ing Car­bon into and out of the econ­o­my:

‘Cap and Div­i­dend’ [or ‘Cap and Share’] must be intro­duced – or in the process of being intro­duced — by the time of the Copen­hagen sum­mit in Decem­ber 2009 in order to ensure that car­bon is rapid­ly treat­ed as a tox­ic and addic­tive sub­stance which we as indi­vid­u­als and as a soci­ety need great help to stop being addict­ed to. This clear, equi­table and prac­ti­cal way of rapid­ly doing this will ensure that all prod­ucts and ser­vices that car­ry car­bon into the econ­o­my and out into the atmos­phere also car­ry a puni­tive finan­cial cost. This would kick start modes of trans­port, ener­gy and pro­duc­tion which are zero-car­bon. Any prod­ucts enter­ing the coun­try (or set of coun­tries) impos­ing such a tar­iff on their own car­bon- based prod­ucts and ser­vices would, nec­es­sar­i­ly, have to impose an equiv­a­lent tax on any ser­vices and prod­ucts enter­ing the coun­try, in order to ensure a lev­el play­ing field for all, and in order to begin the process of quick­ly lev­el­ling up inter­na­tion­al prac­tice from car­bon prof­li­gate to zero-car­bon.


We call on the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment to, by Decem­ber 2009, be in a posi­tion to imple­ment a pol­i­cy frame­work, leg­isla­tive pro­gramme and sup­port to enable a rapid switch from car­bon hun­gry to ener­gy healthy infra­struc­ture.

This would involve an imme­di­ate end to the con­struc­tion of infra­struc­ture which is accel­er­at­ing our car­bon use and accel­er­at­ing cli­mate change, includ­ing the imme­di­ate end of motor­way build­ing, air­port expan­sion, and out of town shop­ping cen­tres. A rapid trans­for­ma­tion in ener­gy pro­duc­tion, con­struc­tion and in trans­port infra­struc­ture, includ­ing rolling out effec­tive mass insu­la­tion and ener­gy con­ser­va­tion schemes, pub­lic and com­mu­ni­ty ben­e­fit renew­able ener­gy schemes, and expo­nen­tial­ly expand­ing and elec­tri­fy­ing (and reduc­ing the fares to low or zero lev­els on) pub­lic trans­port.

To move to being an ener­gy healthy soci­ety by 2028 we need to rapid­ly ‘Pow­er Down’ and ‘Pow­er Up’:
(i) ‘Pow­er­ing Down’ from using car­bon based and pol­lut­ing ener­gy sources and from being ener­gy obese, there­by reduc­ing ener­gy use by 50% by 2029; and
(ii) ‘Pow­er­ing Up’ by rapid­ly expand­ing renew­ables (includ­ing tidal, wind, CHP and hydro) to pro­vide for all our remain­ing ener­gy needs by 2029.

This tran­si­tion will hap­pen any­way as oil, gas and coal run out, but needs to be done now in order that the car­bon from the the remain­ing fos­sil fuels are not released into the atmos­phere.

How­ev­er, it has to borne in mind, that glob­al aver­age (mean) tem­per­a­ture have already risen by between 0.75°C and 0.8°C since pre-indus­tri­al times, and a min­i­mum addi­tion­al 0.6°C of warm­ing is still due from emis­sions to date — the delay in warm­ing being a con­se­quence of the time-lags in the sys­tem – so there is only anoth­er 0.6°C of warm­ing pos­si­ble before we hit 2°C. That 2°C increase may be reached as a result of accel­er­at­ing feed­back loops, but we have to con­sid­er whether there is still some play in the sys­tem, so that we can devote some fur­ther emis­sions, not to build­ing motor­ways, run­ways, fly­ing, pro­duc­ing plas­tic goods and so on, but to help­ing to build the renew­able ener­gy infra­struc­ture we need.

How the ener­gy trans­for­ma­tion can tech­ni­cal­ly be car­ried out by 2029 is out­lined in the Cen­tre for Alter­na­tive Technology’s wide­ly acclaimed Zero Car­bon Report. It is also clear from this, that it would be unnec­es­sary and poten­tial­ly entire­ly mis­guid­ed to pour ener­gy and resources into the expec­ta­tion that we could devel­op boun­ti­ful, cheap and safe nuclear ener­gy, and con­tin­ue to use coal (through devel­op­ing effec­tive car­bon cap­ture and stor­age). The Zero Car­bon Report makes clear that renew­able solu­tions are avail­able and can meet our real needs (rather than our man­u­fac­tured wants) now if we choose to pour our ener­gy into devel­op­ing them (see: www.zerocarbonbritain.com).


We call on the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment to recog­nise the under­ly­ing cause of the ‘triple crunch’ of the cred­it-fuelled finan­cial cri­sis, accel­er­at­ing cli­mate change and the fluc­tu­at­ing but (over the long term) soar­ing ener­gy prices which will accom­pa­ny Peak Oil.

We call on the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment to — by Decem­ber 2009 – have devel­oped a pol­i­cy frame­work and leg­isla­tive pro­gramme to re-reg­u­late the finan­cial sec­tor; and have begun the process of either:
(i) Per­suad­ing the West­min­ster Gov­ern­ment to imple­ment such leg­is­la­tion or, if the West­min­ster Gov­ern­ment refus­es, then
(ii) Cre­at­ing this as ‘Shad­ow leg­is­la­tion’ and con­sult­ing the peo­ple of Scot­land on whether they sup­port the Scot­tish Government’s lead­er­ship in tack­ling these three con­nect­ed crises.

Where even a year ago, it would have been seen as elec­toral sui­cide to advo­cate re-reg­u­lat­ing the finan­cial sec­tor; there is now a huge pop­u­lar appetite (amongst both expert ana­lysts and the pop­u­la­tion at large) for such a move. The rules of the eco­nom­ic sys­tem have legal­ly oblig­ed com­pa­nies to pur­sue the high­est returns for share­hold­ers with­out thought to how this can destroy the social, eco­nom­ic and envi­ron­men­tal fab­ric. The quick­est (even if least long-term) approach to increas­ing prof­it has been through exter­nal­is­ing the social and eco­log­i­cal costs of pro­duc­ing goods and ser­vices (hence the out­sourc­ing or pro­duc­tion and ser­vice jobs to the Major­i­ty world).

As a first step, we call on the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment to:
(i) Push for trans­paren­cy in transna­tion­al financiers and cor­po­ra­tions deal­ings so that they become account­able for the impacts they are hav­ing, and so that we ensure they are account­able through pay­ing tax rather than using tax havens to avoid con­tribut­ing their fair share to pay­ing for the trans­for­ma­tion we col­lec­tive­ly and urgent­ly need to under­take.
(ii) Push inter­na­tion­al­ly for tax havens and their secre­tive deal­ings to be stopped, and in the mean­time push for leg­is­la­tion to make any agree­ments reached in such juris­dic­tions lack any legal sta­tus here.

Over the longer term, we call on the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment to:
(iii) Build a new alliance between politi­cians, envi­ron­men­tal­ists, indus­try, agri­cul­ture, and the unions. One which puts the inter­ests of the real econ­o­my ahead of those of foot­loose finance in order to make mas­sive invest­ment in renew­able ener­gy and wider envi­ron­men­tal trans­for­ma­tion, lead­ing to the cre­ation of an employ­ment rich, secure and envi­ron­men­tal­ly healthy soci­ety. The pro­grammes and poli­cies required to begin this process are detailed in The Green New Deal (new eco­nom­ics foun­da­tion, Lar­ry Elliott, Car­o­line Lukas et al 21 July 2008. See: www.neweconomics.org)
(iv) Reori­en­tate the mon­ey sys­tem so that it exists (at nation­al and local, and ulti­mate­ly inter­na­tion­al, lev­els) in order to pro­tect mon­ey as a shared com­mons which we all need to facil­i­tate exchange, and as such exists to serve the well-being of soci­ety, rather than is used to increase the prof­its of the few at the expense of soci­ety and the envi­ron­ment (Dav­ey 2008).


We call on the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment to dra­mat­i­cal­ly increase its excel­lent sup­port for com­mu­ni­ties seek­ing to make the tran­si­tion from an oil depen­dent econ­o­my to a local one. This move­ment is evi­dent in the wave of Tran­si­tion Town, Going Car­bon Neu­tral, etc., ini­tia­tives (see, for exam­ple, www.transitionscotland.org, www.pedal-porty.org.uk, www.fifediet.wordpress.com, etc).

The Land Reform (Scot­land) Act should be expand­ed to extend sup­port to urban com­mu­ni­ties to also have the first right (and sup­port) to buy impor­tant com­mu­ni­ty land and build­ings when they come on the mar­ket. This expan­sion must not be at the expense of exist­ing sup­port for rur­al com­mu­ni­ties to do like­wise, but can enable urban com­mu­ni­ties to rebuild them­selves, part­ly through learn­ing from the expe­ri­ence of rur­al com­mu­ni­ty ini­tia­tives (see, for exam­ple, www.isleofeigg.org, www.caledonia.org.uk).

As the pre­vi­ous three actions are tak­en to stop the extrac­tion of car­bon, a lev­el play­ing field will emerge in which food, ener­gy and the things we need and want are pro­duced far clos­er to home, with deci­sions increas­ing­ly being made at a local lev­el; enabling us to re-estab­lish healthy local economies and com­mu­ni­ties. In place of large cor­po­ra­tions pro­duc­ing cheap and shod­dy goods through exploit­ing cheap labour and engag­ing in prac­tices (includ­ing long dis­tance trans­porta­tion) which dam­age the envi­ron­ment, in place of our fuelling those aspects of the econ­o­my in Chi­na and the rest of the Major­i­ty World which enable those with pow­er in such coun­tries to fur­ther exploit those pushed off their land and denied their rights, we will come to rely on estab­lish­ing healthy local economies here, which will enable healthy economies there.

The three pre­vi­ous steps cre­ate the grounds for this fourth step which ulti­mate­ly depends on peo­ple being will­ing to rebuild their com­mu­ni­ties as sus­tain­able, healthy, resilient and desir­able places to be through relo­cal­is­ing their econ­o­my. This fourth step involves the tran­si­tion to viable vibrant inter­lin­ing com­mu­ni­ties: where the com­mons is man­aged through nego­ti­a­tion and co-oper­a­tion rather than through the impo­si­tion of devel­op­ments by those who are absent from a local­i­ty and there­fore nev­er have to deal with the con­se­quences of their deci­sions, deci­sions which are dri­ven by how much they can extract from local­i­ties, rather than dri­ven by the desire to make those local­i­ties sus­tain­able.

The cru­cial point about this focus on relo­cal­i­sa­tion is that, accord­ing to the Stock­holm Insti­tute, with­out a com­plete­ly new approach (such as this) even the most rad­i­cal of their three alter­na­tive visions of the future led to well over 2°C ris­es. When they ran the three alter­na­tive sce­nar­ios through the Met Office’s Hadley Centre’s mod­el­ling sys­tem , the ris­es were as fol­lows:
(i) AGREE & IGNORE – the cur­rent approach in which inter­na­tion­al nego­ti­a­tions lead to weak tar­get set­ting which coun­tries then effec­tive­ly ignore – led to ris­es of 4.85°C;
(ii) KYOTO PLUS — suc­cess­ful bind­ing inter­na­tion­al nego­ti­a­tions with tar­gets coun­tries keep to – led to ris­es of 3.31°C; and
(iii) A rad­i­cal STEP CHANGE mar­ket approach to severe­ly restrict com­pa­nies using fos­sil fuels in the first place – led to ris­es of 2.89°C.

So, with­out a dra­mat­i­cal­ly dif­fer­ent path­way – such as this rapid­ly spread­ing relo­cal­i­sa­tion process sup­port­ed and ampli­fied by the pol­i­cy frame­work to make zero-car­bon a pos­si­bil­i­ty — we can­not stop the dev­as­tat­ing extrac­tion of car­bon, nor demon­strate to the world how to get back below 350ppm and so stay below the dan­ger thresh­old of 2°C.

In sum­ma­ry: there is no way we are going to be able to pull back from the brink and – in the process — devel­op the localised economies need­ed for ful­fill­ing zero-car­bon lifestyles unless:
(i) There is clear leg­is­la­tion in place to ensure a lev­el play­ing field for all, so that indi­vid­u­als, com­pa­nies and pub­lic bod­ies are able to act to reduce emis­sions
(ii) There is a clear pro­gramme to change ener­gy use, infra­struc­ture, and the mate­ri­als we use, from car­bon-based to car­bon-neu­tral
(iii) There is swift leg­is­la­tion to curb the abil­i­ty of finance and the prof­it motive to exploit and dam­age, rather than serve soci­ety, and unless
(iv) There is dra­mat­i­cal­ly increased sup­port for com­mu­ni­ties to make the tran­si­tion.


We call on the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment to respond to the World Cri­sis that the sci­ence is telling us we are now in, and to demon­strate world lead­er­ship by (i) mak­ing our tar­get a reduc­tion in emis­sions of 100% by 2029, and 10% by June 2011, and by (ii) tak­ing the nec­es­sary steps to begin that dra­mat­ic reduc­tion now.

We call on the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment to demon­strate clear out­stand­ing lead­er­ship in the race out of car­bon. This will put us in pole posi­tion to take advan­tage of that race, but, more impor­tant­ly, it will kick start the race for human sur­vival which so far has con­sist­ed of Gov­ern­ments dis­cussing the rules of a race which should have long since begun.

Holy­rood 350
Response to Scot­tish Cli­mate Change Bill
27th Feb­ru­ary 2009

Holy­rood 350 — www.holyrood350.org
Justin Ken­rick- justinkenrick@yahoo.co.uk

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