We have ten years…
For a moment stop worrying about what is politically feasible and write down what needs to be done. Where there is a way there is a will.
This is approximately what is needed.
1. People: An essential precondition is to instil love and care of the natural world in our young people so they grow up to be responsible citizens. School resources need to be reallocated to regular nature exposure for kids and proper outdoor nature learning.
The people who stand to lose from the transition and who will resist it need to be taken care of. Huge programme of care, retraining, community support and trauma management etc.
2. Food: We have to stop trashing of forests, peatlands, wetlands, biodiversity, soils, etc. So all factory farming has to be banned from 2025. All subsidies for meat and dairy production to be stopped immediately. All subsidies for conventional agriculture to stop by 2025. All agriculture to convert to organic regenerative by 2030. Subsidies to train farmers in conversion and capital support during transition funded by levy on fossil fuel sales. (Note: fall in meat eating means we will be able to feed ourselves using organic regenerative approaches, as reduction in meat eating easily frees up enough land to compensate for lower crop yields).
All commercial fishing to be suspended from 2025 for 20 years. Programme to buy back fishing boats. Programme to retrain fisherman as ocean clean-up stewards. All plastic entering into the sea to stop from 2025. Offshore amnesty wealth tax to fund full ocean clean-up.
3. Homes. All new homes and buildings to be passive standard from 2025. All existing homes and buildings to be converted to low-energy heating and high insulation by 2035. Massive funding scheme to support this and statutory time off for people to manage works.
4. Capturing carbon. Tax or allowance auction reserve price of €100 / tonne CO2 for finance native reforestation of Brazil, Indonesia etc, and roll-out of direct air capture and storage. (Note cessation of industrial meat production means a lot of land will free up in Brazil, reducing the cost of reforestation).
5. Transport and shipping. All transport to be electric from 2030 or 200% offset using natural sequestration credits. Scheme for retraining of petrol industry workers and support of their communities funded by levy on fossil fuel sales.
6. Energy. All coal mines to be progressively shut down through to 2030. Scheme for retraining of miners, support of mining communities funded by levy on fossil fuel sales. Expansion and acceleration of existing solar and wind renewable energy schemes (with great care to ensure natural world is protected from further harm from renewables schemes).
Turning it into practice
Once these big goals are set in stone, then brainy bankers and consultants and engineers are put to work to devise all the schemes to make it happen. It will be the challenge of their lives – for some the first opportunity to do something which really counts.
This sounds really simplistic.
What we mean by simplistic is that decisions will have to be taken which seem unfair to specific individuals. Meaning that someone will be hurt. Yes, people will be hurt. But not much. Some fortunes will be pruned back. Some egos bruised. Some political power will be short-circuited. But no-one is going to get seriously ill from this. Jobs will be lost but many gained, and the whole programme is designed to help people who lose jobs quickly get back into meaningful work.
This is just a plan for ten years to get emissions and biodiversity loss under control. After that we have a little bit more time to refine the measures to make them a bit fairer, more relevant for countries at different economic levels, and so forth. But we are talking about a ten year emergency, so don’t expect something which is nice to everyone.