[PLEASE NOTE: THIS DOCUMENT HAS BEEN CONDENSED TO ONE HALF OF ITS ORIGINAL LENGTH FOR PERFORMANCE PURPOSES BY CLIMATE ACTION PARRY SOUND]
If words make worlds, then we urgently need to tell a new story about the climate crisis. Here is one vision of what it could look and feel like to radically, collectively take action.
In 2030, we ended the climate emergency. Here’s how
Climate correspondent https://thecorrespondent.com/
This is a story about our journey to 2030 – a vision of what it could look and feel like if we finally, radically, collectively act to build a world we want to live in.
In New Zealand, approximately 3.5% of the population participated in climate strikes in autumn 2019, which was almost immediately followed by the country adopting one of the boldest climate goals in the world: to cut carbon emissions to net zero by 2050. Building on New Zealand’s pioneering policy, 2020 is the year we acknowledge that the most urgent thing we can do in an emergency is to passionately tell others that it exists. The call to protect the planet will become a rallying cry as climate strikes around the world continue to escalate. … We will redefine happiness. We will watch hopeful television and movies about a possible world that does not yet exist.
There will be mounting social pressure for climate laws far more ambitious than New Zealand’s law. To do enough on climate, some of the rich, high-emitting countries will have to be zero carbon by 2025. Nearly all wealthy countries will have to be zero carbon by 2030. It doesn’t matter which government is in power. Elections move too slowly. … In 2021, [we] will pass a series of sweeping legislative changes to bring about a Green New Deal and help permanently decentralise political power [and emancipate it] from the extractive industries that have concentrated wealth for centuries.
We will see care work and mutual aid as being at the core of climate action. [In fact,] the term “climate action” will start to lose meaning. It will just become “action”.We will begin the process of climate reparations – partially repairing the loss and damage of colonialism and decentralising political power on a global scale. Indigenous people have, for centuries, effectively managed more than 80% of the world’s biodiversity. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples provides a particularly effective model for how to … [build] a world that works for everyone. We will finally reach peak global emissions. We will finally stop accelerating towards our own destruction.
We will criminalise and delegitimise the fossil fuel industry. Fossil fuel executives will be tried for crimes against humanity. Ecocide tribunals will hold those to account for making parts of Earth uninhabitable. We will courageously name the people who created our burning world without fear of retribution because they will be made powerless by our vision of a better world. We will realise we have lost so much, but there is still so much worth fighting for.
We will, at last, have created the moral and cultural infrastructure for rapid decarbonisation of every aspect of our civilisation. We will electrify everything: trains, heating, steel making, farm tractors. Since carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for hundreds of years, we will focus most intensely on the other greenhouse gases, such as methane and nitrous oxide. We will listen to farmers and use their wisdom to radically reform agriculture so that farms produce food, not commodities. While we’ll continue to plant new trees, we’ll focus our efforts on saving intact forests which suck a greater amount of carbon dioxide out of the air, and minimise the risk of using much needed arable land in ways that do not support the local ecosystem. We will decrease global emissions by 10% in a single year and hold that pace for the rest of the decade. It will be the first year in history that we will be doing enough to slow the climate emergency.
We will have long begun seeing cars as death machines which steal half the surface area of our cities. At this point, there will be so much more space available for quality housing for all, for parks, for city farms, for life. We have always liked meeting new people, so our public spaces will help us do that instead of isolating us in outdated cubicles of individualism. We will rebuild our cities and redesign our roads for walking, and bicycles; and public transit will be free, because it doesn’t make sense for it not to be.
We will redefine what we mean by technology. We do not need more gadgets, we need more connection. We do not need more entertainment, we need more empathy. We do not need virtual reality, we need reality. We will reject technology companies’ efforts to commodify our desire for community. Midway through this transformational decade, we will begin to realise that what we had been craving all along was a sense of purpose. We wanted to do work that was meaningful. We wanted to belong to something bigger than ourselves. [Now we are] part of a thriving global civilisation in the middle of the most transcendent decade in human history.
We will expand our practice of regenerative agriculture. The old practice of growing a single crop over large swaths of land had stripped the soil of nutrients, but we … will re-learn what we have forgotten. We will build a circular economy.
We will begin de-commodifying our own survival. … It [was] this runaway cycle of production for profit-at-all-costs that created the climate crisis. Stopping this cycle is possible by changing how the economy works. We will abandon the concept of growth for growth’s sake. By establishing a civilisation that values life instead of production, we will recalibrate the economy to care for people and the planet’s needs. Our worth won’t be tied to how much we can produce for people who are already rich.
As the decade draws to a close, we will celebrate that our efforts have cut emissions in half globally over the past 10 years. Many countries will reach the goal of zero carbon emissions far sooner than their leaders thought possible. We will finally be on pace for a world without catastrophic climate change. But that will be only a small part of our achievement. We will have remade what it looks and feels like to be alive. We will have done all this because we had to in order to survive; but, after it is done, we will realise that we did it so that we could thrive.
Perhaps the most radical change of all this decade will be our newfound ability to tell a story – a positive story – about the future and mean it. What that story looks like will probably be very different than what you’ve just read, but it will feel very much the same. It will feel like something you’ve always wanted, but never thought you’d get. You deserve it.
That is what we have to do now, in the first days of 2020. Dream unashamedly big dreams, dreams that reimagine the more just and loving world we want to live in, not the one traditional science fiction or even the media suggests is inevitable. Put these dreams to paper, speak them into the world, and work together to make them a reality.
How do we talk about climate change, and how should we respond to it?
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I have a vision for a green new decade. What do you imagine success on climate change will look and feel like?
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