Link to CapGlobalCarbon at www.capglobalcarbon.org.
We face a climate crisis: according to climate scientists, if drastic cuts in fossil fuel emissions are not made within the next ten years or so, there is a grave danger that climate change may become unstoppable. This would have disastrous consequences for numerous species including ourselves.
We also face a political crisis: our governments are not taking the situation nearly seriously enough; even more worryingly, they appear to be incapable of doing so. At the international level - and climate change is a global problem - there is no effective framework for addressing the global dimension of the problem, the process under the UNFCCC having proved totally ineffective.
Putting those points together, the very urgent need to restrict total global fossil fuel emissions, and the conclusion that there is no chance that governments will do this, the situation appears to be very bleak indeed.
What are we to do? The current strategy of the most concerned and enlightened people is to increase the pressure on governments. The trouble with this is that, given the record, and the nature, of today's governments, it seems extremely unlikely that it could be effective.
We have just GOT to do something! But WHAT?
We need to develop another strategy. Here is a proposal that we believe has the potential to succeed.
Cap and Share
A global Cap and Share scheme would be a good way to respond to the immediate need for drastic cuts in fossil fuel emissions - at the same time helping to reduce inequality. It would need to be introduced and managed independently from the influence of corporations or individual countries. So there needs to be some sort of independent global institution to set the cap and issue the permits to introduce fossil fuels into the economies of individual countries. The role of Individual nation-state governments will be to instruct their customs officials to require corporations introducing the fuels into their economies to have purchased the necessary permits to do so.
One option open to us is to start a campaign to persuade governments to establish the necessary institutional arrangements, through the UNFCCC process. But we do not think that such a campaign would stand the remotest chance of success.
There is another way. There is no reason why the new institutional arrangements have to be set up by governments or the UN or one of its agencies. Ordinary citizens can do this. We do not need anyone's permission to do this.
This would transform the role of campaigning. The purpose of campaigns would be to persuade governments to instruct their customs officials to require corporations introducing the fuels into their economies to have purchased the necessary permits from the new organisation. That is all governments have to do. So instead of campaigning for governments to start taking climate change seriously and do something about it, take a much tougher stand in international negotiations and stand up to corporations etc, which is the kind of campaigning that is doomed to failure, instead of that, once the independent climate framework has been established, campaigning can be directed to the specific demand that our government, in whatever country, simply instructs its customs and excise staff to require importers to hold the appropriate permits.
We believe that this strategy offers a way round the ineffectiveness of governments and the international negotiation process. And in addition to existing local activities to mitigate or adapt to climate change, local action can concentrate on setting up and running new climate trusts at every level to manage the distribution of the proceeds of sale of the permits. The new framework will ensure that all decisions about how money representing the scarcity value of fossil fuels is spent are taken at the lowest satisfactory level. There need be no government involvement in these.
The need to set up these new independent organisational arrangements presents us with an opportunity to use the most enlightened concepts we know in the design of the new framework, in particular principles of commons management, the principle of subsidiarily, the organisational model known as the Viable Systems Model designed by the late Stafford Beer, and effective methods of participatory democracy, all underpinned by an appreciation of humanity as part of the natural world and by a shared commitment to social justice.
For more information, visit CapGlobalCarbon at www.capglobalcarbon.org.