Climate emergency ten-point action plan

The United Nations Secretary-General has warned that government action on the climate emergency is inadequate and called for "a grassroots movement that cannot be ignored".
These are some suggestions for how such a grassroots movement might act.

1. Decide on the overall aim: keep global warming under 1.5°C
2. Decide on the global strategy: limit further CO2 emissions to 400 billion tonnes
3. Decide how to allocate the residual CO2 budget between nations: on the basis of equity
4. Assess progress so far: minimal
5. Identify the reasons for lack of progress: poor decision making throughout society
6. Improve decision making
7. Plan the necessary actions: drastic cuts in emissions in rich countries
8. Take personal action: radical cuts in emissions if personally high-polluting
9. Challenge fallacies, incompetence and malpractice
10. Answer genuine objections

The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, has warned that government action on the climate emergency is inadequate and called for "a grassroots movement that cannot be ignored" (see document 136):

This is a suggestion for a ten-point plan that such a grassroots movement might take up.

1. Decide on the overall aim: keep global warming under 1.5°C

It is understandable that young people want a safe climate that is similar to what adults have enjoyed (see document 61), not a world ravaged by droughts, storms, floods and rising sea levels, with more and more people forced to leave their homes and become climate refugees. The case for limiting global warming to less than 1.5°C is overwhelming. Global warming has already reached 1.1°C, so the situation has become an emergency.

2. Decide on the global strategy: limit further CO2 emissions to 400 billion tonnes

Net zero dates do not matter; what matters is the total cumulative emissions by the net zero date. Further global emissions of CO2 need to be limited to a total 400 billion tonnes CO2 from Jan 2020, as explained in the 2021 IPCC AR6 report (see document 54). (The production in 2018 was 34 billion tonnes CO2.)

3. Decide how to allocate the residual CO2 budget between nations: on the basis of equity

The only justifiable way is on the basis of equity. This is specified in the Paris Agreement, which also specifies that developed countries will cut emissions faster than developing countries - see document 122. The global total of 400 billion tonnes works out at 50 tonnes CO2 per person on the planet - see document 54.

4. Assess progress so far: minimal

It has been known for decades that burning fossil fuels is dangerous for the climate and needs to cease. But:

5. Identify the reasons for lack of progress: poor decision making throughout society

See document 34

6. Improve decision making

The process of decision making must be improved. Some essential components are
See document 40


7. Plan the necessary actions: drastic cuts in emissions in rich countries

Annual cuts in emissions of over 10% in high-polluting countries are needed to meet their commitments in the Paris Agreement. This inevitably means major changes in lifestyles for many, especially the rich, e.g. flying is not affordable within a lifetime carbon budget of 50 tonnes per person, and the nature of international travel will have to change until sustainable solutions are developed.

The IPCC said in 2018 that "rapid and far-reaching transitions" were needed in all parts of society. There has been dither and delay by governments since then, and so the situation has become even more urgent.

8. Take personal action: radical cuts in emissions if personally high-polluting

Individuals should

9. Challenge fallacies, incompetence and misconduct

Decision making needs to be scrutinised and supervised so that competent plans are drawn up and implemented on schedule.
See document 132.

10. Answer genuine objections


References

[1]Turning delusion into climate action - Prof Kevin Anderson, an interview (2020) https://www.sgr.org.uk/resources/turning-delusion-climate-action-prof-kevin-anderson-interview
[2]https://www.sgr.org.uk/projects/science-oath-climate-text-and-signing

First published: Mar 2019
Last updated: 30 Nov 2022