Holyrood 350 — H35O

4 Action Points For Holyrood To Avert Climate Chaos

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The Holyrood 350 campaign — H350 in brief

Sum­mary:

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.

Sci­en­tific Background:

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:

  1. 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;
  2. KYOTO PLUS — suc­cess­ful bind­ing inter­na­tional nego­ti­a­tions with tar­gets coun­tries keep to — rises of 3.31°C; and
  3. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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).
  4. 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.

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