Kjells Page


Why zero emissions is the way forward

The UNFCCC negotiations are stuck. And rightly so. Because there is no credible solution to the climate crisis in sight. Not globally, not nationally, not in your city and not in your individual life. The dominant discourse talks about "reducing", "low carbon", "green growth", "low carbon development" etc. The real way forward is not even identified yet. "Polluter wins" is still the way the climate game works. Everyone talks about more or less reductions, and obviously who is polluting more (or projecting to pollute more through a shameless "business as usual" scenario) has more reductions on offer. Zero emissions must be the new standard put forward by the Youth Climate Movement and everyone else who is on our side. Globally: We are at 390ppm CO2 in the atmosphere and need to get below 350 for a safe climate. How? Going down to zero fossil emissions as quickly as possible (before 2050) and removing carbon from the atmosphere through a land-use that captures carbon. Zero emissions implies leaving all fossils in the ground and powering everything with renewable energies. There is no other way (barring geoengineering) that we could stay below 1.5° warming. 1.5°=zero emissions globally, within our lifetimes. Nationally: Do you have a zero emissions target in your country? I know the answer. It is no. Not one single country has a zero emissions target yet, let alone a detailed plan. There are a few brave countries that have gone ahead and declared carbon neutrality as their target (ask me for the list). But that is only a first step, because it supposes counting land-use sinks against continuing fossil emissions. We need to stop fossil emissions completely and use the land-use sector as emergency carbon removal option. 1.5°=a zero emissions target for every country, a plan and implementing it. City level: Do you have a zero emissions plan/strategy in your city? Most likely no. (if you do, or would like to create one, please get in touch) Obviously countries can only get to zero emissions, if cities get there, too. 1.5°=implementing a zero emissions plan in every city. Individual level: Are you a climate activist? Most likely yes. Do you lead a zero emissions lifestyle? No. Do you make climate change worse through causing fossil emissions every day? Yes! :( We need a deep transformation of our economy and our lifestyles. The triangle car-TV-supermarket is at the heart of today's development model which is powered mainly by burning fossils. We need to change that. There is no zero emissions economy today, only small, disconnected seeds here and there. We all need to use our everyday lives to pioneer the way to a zero emissions economy. Your money is either water on the mills of the fossil monster economy or of the new zero emissions economy. You decide if you take the pains to help create that zero emissions economy or wait for others to do it, or disaster to strike. 1.5°=some zero emissions pioneers in the next couple of years, everyone going zero emissions over the next few decades. So what is your role in this? 1. Help to get real targets on the UNFCCC agenda. At COP17 in Durban a global 2050 target will be set. This target must be zero emissions. And your national government must know that it cannot be anything less than that. This is a great opportunity to raise consciousness about the global situation and the profound transformation that our generation needs to accomplish. 2. Go climate positive. Start moving towards a zero emissions lifestyle today. There is a template, which I call "climate positive living". It consists in a pledge to maintain a positive personal greenhouse gas balance, absorbing more GHGs from the air than you emit. It involves accounting, eliminating and over-compensating your personal GHG emissions. Please get in touch if you would like to join or learn more. 3. Start planning for zero emissions in your community, city, region, country. Learn about approaches in other regions (see a compilation). Identify the actors who will likely join efforts to promote zero emissions targets and can help to design a first outline of a zero emissions plan. Get in touch with them and talk about it. 4. De-fossilize your mind. We are constantly reinforcing the fossil monster economy model by recreating it in people's minds by using "developing/developed" countries terminology. The "developed country" status quo is the problem, not the solution! It is a very dangerous way of burning Mother Earth through a polluting, wasteful, consumerist lifestyle. Call them "big polluter countries", "over-consuming countries" (as suggested by Mr. Oposa at COY6) or "Annex-I countries" if you like. We need to use language that creates the image of a climate friendly future in people's heads. Let's brainstorm ways to call different countries to make this clear! Let's bring down the monster and build a clean and safe future! Kjell