Holyrood 350 is a response to the recognition that we have to reduce CO2 concentrations from the current 400ppm to below 350ppm, in order to avoid catastrophic climate change. Since international negotiations currently seek to set a ceiling of 450ppm, while carbon emissions continue to rise rapidly, Holyrood 350 is seeking to persuade the Scottish Government and MSPs of all parties to introduce legislation and take the critical steps which can enable us to fulfil and surpass our comitment to an 80% cut in carbon emissions by 2050, and so help stop accelerating climate change by radically reducing our carbon emissions and so setting an example for the rest of the world to follow.
The time for setting future targets is passed; we have to take radical action now, if we are to leave our children a world that is still inhabitable. Climate Change is the consequence of an economic system built on the necessity for endless economic growth on a planet which has finite resources. Tackling the causes of climate change requires us to fundamentally re-orientate our economic system so that it meets the needs of current and future generations in a way which enhances the flourishing and well-being of people and ecosystems everywhere. We will create a fairer, healthier and happier society — as well as a society with a future — by using our fair share of natural resources, and so living in an energy healthy not energy obese society.
Unless we reduce our CO2 concentrations from the current 400ppm to below 350ppm, it is highly unlikely that we will avoid catastrophic, runaway climate change. This is because feedback mechanisms are kicking in, and carbon sinks losing their ability to absorb carbon, far sooner than expected. If we proceed on our current path of allowing emissions to rise and simply negotiating for reductions sometime in the future, then humanity will soon no longer be able to control runaway climate change as the planet’s own feedback mechanisms kick in, says NASA scientist Jim Hansen.
Why Current ‘Solutions’ cannot Succeed:
Mark Lynas recently showed how, when the Stockholm Network asked the Met Office’s Hadley Centre to run three alternative visions of the future through their modelling system, all three led to well over 2°C rises (2°C being the tipping point after which feedback loops are expected to kick in too severely to be restrained).
The scenarios and rises are:
- AGREE & IGNORE — the current approach in which international negotiations lead to weak target setting which countries then effectively ignore — leading to rises of 4.85°C;
- KYOTO PLUS — successful binding international negotiations with targets countries keep to — rises of 3.31°C; and
- A radical STEP CHANGE market approach to severely restrict companies using fossil fuels in the first place — rises of 2.89°C.
Mark Lynas concludes that “no political scenario we could envisage will now keep the world below the danger threshold of two degrees”. If he is right, then surely we need to create a dramatically different political scenario? The Holyrood 350 campaign is part of the broader international 350 campaign which is seeking to inspire governments and people to make the changes that will enable survival of our species.
Holyrood 350 Solutions:
We call on the Scottish Government take immediate measures to dramatically reduce and then stop carbon being extracted from the ground to pass through the economy into the atmosphere. Specifically, the Government should takes immediate steps to:
- Price Carbon Out of the Economy: Introduce a scheme within 12 months which will ensure that high-carbon products, modes of transport, etc. are fast replaced by low-carbon ones. The necessary rapid rise in the cost of high-carbon options would be accompanied by the rapid development and shift to low-carbon ones. There are various systems for achieving this (e.g. Cap and Share, Tradable Energy Quotas, etc.) all of which are based on giving each person the right to the same amount of emissions which are reduced year on year, so reducing our collective emissions to a level which can be absorbed by the biomass. The form such systems take can also enable us to solve a range of other problems generated by living in a socially unequal and energy wasteful society, e.g. through ensuring polluters are penalised, and those using less carbon (especially the poor) benefit.
- Create an Energy Healthy Infrastructure: Stop constructing infrastructure that is accelerating our carbon use and climate change, e.g. motorway building and airport expansion; and instead roll out mass insulation, public and community benefit renewable energy schemes, and exponentially expand (and electrify) public transport. Become an energy healthy society by 2028 by (i) ‘Powering down’ from using carbon based and polluting energy sources, and from being energy obese (reducing energy use by 50% by 2028) and (ii) ‘Powering up’ by rapidly expanding renewables (tidal at 11%, wind at 50%, CHP and hydro providing the rest, by 2028). 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 remaining fossil fuels are not released into the atmosphere. (See Centre for Alternative Technology’s Zero Carbon Report).
- Establish ‘The Green New Deal’: Recognise the underlying cause of the ‘triple crunch’ of the credit-fuelled financial crisis, accelerating climate change and soaring energy prices. Begin the process of re-regulating the financial sector which has been legally obliged to pursue the highest returns for shareholders without thought to how this can destroy the social, economic and environmental fabric. Begin building a new alliance between politicians, environmentalists, industry, agriculture, and unions to put the interests of the real economy ahead of those of footloose finance in order to make massive investment in renewable energy and environmental transformation, leading an employment rich, secure and environmentally healthy society. The steps required to begin this process — including making financiers and corporations activities transparent and accountable — are detailed in The Green New Deal (New Economics Foundation — Larry Elliott, Caroline Lucas et al, 21 July 2008).
- Support Localisation: Dramatically increase the Scottish Government’s excellent support for communities seeking to make the transition from an oil dependent economy to a local one: evident in the wave of Transition Town, Going Carbon Neutral, etc, initiatives. As the previous three approaches to stopping the use of carbon take effect, 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 (aided also by extending the Land Reform Act to urban communities).
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. Without this last step, 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.
If government says such a programme cannot be embarked on within 12 months, we request an opportunity for immediate dialogue with the Scottish Government. Join the campaign: sign the Petition at www.holyrood350.org.