Climate emergency ten-point action plan


Summary
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 carbon budget between nations: on the basis of equity
4. Assess progress so far: minimal
5. Identify the reasons for lack of progress: mainly incompetence and malpractice
6. Plan the necessary actions: drastic cuts in emissions in rich countries
7. Take personal action
8. Tell the truth with consistent messaging
9. Challenge fallacies, incompetence and malpractice
10. Answer genuine objections

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 seems overwhelming. Global warming has already reached 1.2°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 set out 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 carbon budget between nations: on the basis of equity


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: mainly incompetence and malpractice

The main reasons for the lack of progress are incompetent decision making and malpractice in decision making by people in positions of power (in government and elsewhere), but no groups are blameless:

6. 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.

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.

7. Take personal action

Encourage individuals to reduce their own carbon footprint by at least 10% per year - see document 24.

8. Tell the truth with consistent messaging

Scientist and NGOs have been self-censoring about the severity and urgency of the climate emergency [1]. This is delaying the necessary actions.

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.

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]Scientists for Global Responsibility. A science oath for the climate: text and signing (2020) https://www.sgr.org.uk/projects/science-oath-climate-text-and-signing
[3]This is an emergency alert for the general public (Earth Day video) (Apr 2021) Greta Thunberg https://twitter.com/GretaThunberg/status/1385165197350952961
[4]Protests at Mark Carney's presentation at COP26 (Nov 2021) https://twitter.com/nowthisnews/status/1456323609085964288

First published: Mar 2019
Last updated: 7 Dec 2021