Holyrood 350 — H35O

4 Action Points For Holyrood To Avert Climate Chaos

The Holyrood 350 campaign — H350 in brief


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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