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Why a Global Citizen's Initiative?

The reason for instituting the process of establishing the Trust independently from the process of inter-governmental negotiation under the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol is that this is the best way to make sure that a well-designed and competent structure is put in place in due time.

On this page we:

The thinking behind this initiative

  • The latest science, indicating an extremely urgent need for the fastest practicable reduction in global emissions from fossil fuels
  • Schemes such as Cap and Share/Cap and Dividend - especially the upstream cap and money received by all adults equally
  • Peter Barnes's book Capitalism 3.0
  • The systemic defects and grossly inadequate outcomes of the UNFCCC and Kyoto process
  • Links between climate change, the more general depletion of the natural resources on which human life depends and increasing inequality between and within countries: these are all symptoms of an unjust and unsustainable global economic system. This initiative is conceived as a step in the transformation towards a fair and sustainable global economy.
  • Self-organising systems and Stafford Beer's Viable System Model - the global economy consists of millions of players large and small all of whom need to operate with maximum autonomy, with minimum top-down regulation, but within strict rules some of which need to be global rules (of which the schemes operated by the Global Trust will be part) designed to enable the entire world economy to operate sustainably
  • The proposition that a global trust of this nature does not have to be set up by governments is inspired by Philip Allott's vision of global society in his book The Health of Nations Society and law beyond the state. Professor Allott describes international society as a society of which we, the people, are members, as opposed to the conventional idea that it consists of a collection of states, together with a number of intergovernmental organisations. State governments are not designed to serve global society: it's not surprising they fail dismally to do so. Whilst state governments are important players in the global society of the human race, to think in our minds of global society as basically a collection of states is a mistake. There is no reason to assume that state governments have a monopoly of the right to establish legal institutions on the global stage. There are other ways in which society can act.

Why we believe that the project is doable

A citizens initiative
The process of forming the Trust and getting it up and running is a huge task but essentially do-able. It is daunting but there is nothing impracticable about it. We have the honourable and inspiring example of the way in which the International Committee of the Red Cross was initiated and established to follow. (There are major differences between the two roles, the Trust being more dependent on active involvement of governments; but, like the ICRC, the Trust will be an independent worldwide organisation). If the time is right for fundamental change, a small group can start the process.

People power
This project offers an opportunity for wide popular support, from individuals and NGOs who would not normally take part in campaigning and lobbying in the UNFCC/Kyoto process or mainstream politics at national or regional levels. As the process of establishing the Trust will run in parallel with and independent from the mainstream process, it can attract support from people who are not 'environmentalists' and may have lost faith in the mainstream political system but are extremely concerned about climate change and want to make sure that fossil fuel emissions are effectively capped and reduced.

The project of forming the Trust and getting it recognised by governments provides an opportunity for a mass expression of people power, by millions of people who are currently locked out by the current system from the possibility of having any real impact on the issues of global governance that affect the future of humanity.

Government support
It may well be that it will be possible to secure not only powerful non-governmental support for the project but also the support of some state governments. Often on the international stage a small number of sometimes comparatively small countries take a lead in winning support for ethically correct treaties, such as the roles played by Norway and Ireland in the negotiations leading to the recent Cluster Bomb Treaty.

Once established the existence of the Trust will provide an opportunity for popular pressure to be brought on individual governments to agree to cooperate in the implementation of the Trust's schemes - in particular by ensuring that their customs officials require companies introducing the fuels into the economy to hold permits issued by the Trust.

Project management and tasks

We envisage that the project of establishing the trust and getting it up and running will be led by a comparatively small steering group with the widest possible participation. Once the Trust has been established and is up and running, the people who have carried out this job will withdraw.

Tasks include:

  • identifying Guardians of the Trust
  • designing the constitution of the Trust
  • assisting the guardians in the selection and appointment of Trustees
  • winning support for the project
  • securing funding

Identifying Guardians

The Guardians should be the most suitable people in the world to undertake the functions of the Guardians of the Trust, ensuring above all that it is independent of governments and vested interests. There should be a good gender balance, a good age balance, and a good geographical balance.

Decisions are needed as to decide how to go about this.

Designing the constitution of the Trust

There are many questions to be resolved in designing the Trust to make sure that it is fit to do its job without becoming bureaucratic and bloated. Numerous disciplines will be involved in reaching the best possible design. These include

  • law and practice relating to public purpose trusts
  • decision making by trustees and judges and consensus decision-making
  • several branches of science relating to climate change
  • organisational management
  • change facilitation
  • climate change debates and negotiations
  • economics
  • public administration
  • international relations
  • international organisations
  • International non-government organisations

We are looking for experts in each of these fields to help ensure that everything about the trust and the way it works meet the highest possible standards.

Assisting the Guardians in the selection and appointment of Trustees

The Trustees will be responsible for building and running what is bound to be a large international organisation. The sole criteria in the selection of the trustees should be ability and experience. We need to find the best people in the world to form a brilliant body of trustees. As with the Guardians, there should be a good gender balance.

Here again, decisions are needed as to decide how to go about this.

Winning support for the project

This can be broken down into

  • arranging the active participation of individuals and organisations in the tasks outlined above
  • winning the support of individuals and organisations willing to be listed as supporters
  • winning the support of governments

Securing funding

A distinction is to be made between funding for the Trust and funding for the project of setting up the Trust.

Funding for the project of setting up the Trust may be provided by one or more foundations, charitable trusts or individuals, either for the project as a whole or for specific parts of it. How the trust will be funded once in operation is something for further discussion.

A steering group

The steering group will be responsible for establishing the Trust and getting it up and running by the end of 2010.

An important task will be to design a process, drawing on experiences of participatory processes such as that leading to the Earth Charter and participatory budgeting in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

Once the Trust is established and up and running, the steering group will withdraw.

To register your support for the project, click here to go to the Contact Us page.