For every coal plant America shuts down, China opens 20 more. In light of some of our imminent problems, Andrew Simms from the New Economics Foundation wrote an eye-opening opinion piece on the Guardian on the New Green Deal, a UK plan-of-action released last month to counteract climate change.
Simms, the policy director and head of the climate change program at the New Economics Foundation (NEF) —— a "think and do tank" —— says it's now time to scream "FIRE!" We have 100 months (about 8 years) he warns to make radical changes to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
He proposes a plan for the UK. It will create a sound economic future for the country, set an example for other nations, and could help avert a potentially catastrophic end for humanity. Simms emulates President Franklin Roosevelt, who during the Dust Bowl and depression of the 30s, proposed a New Deal —— a 100 day program to reform America's economy.
On the website onehundredmonths, conceived by the NEF and others, we can see a second-by-second countdown of one hundred months (8.3 years) until irreversible climate change sets in (their data). According to Simms, "in just 100 months' time, if we are lucky, and based on a quite conservative estimate, we could reach a tipping point for the beginnings of runaway climate change. That said, among people working on global warming, there are countless models, scenarios, and different iterations of all those models and scenarios."
Simms rationale for 100 months is summed up in the Guardian story and reported in Carbon Catalog: "But, even just before that point, there is still a one third chance of crossing the line," he warns. What's his advice?
Ideas for Stalling the Climate Change Tipping Point
- Avoid infrastructure that is fossil-fuel-dependent (such as the construction of new airports, coal-fired power plants) that lock us in patterns of future greenhouse gas emissions, radically reducing our ability to make the short- to medium-term cuts.
- Appeal to governments to stop defecting blame and responsibility: "It is wildly unrealistic to think that individuals alone can effect a comprehensive re-engineering of the [West's] fossil-fuel-dependent energy, food and transport systems. The government must lead."
- Governments should launch a Green New Deal, similar to the one launched in the UK last week, taking inspiration from President Roosevelt's famous 100-day program implemented in the face of the dust bowls and depression.
- Rein in reckless financial institutions and use a range of fiscal tools, new measures and reforms to the tax system, such as a windfall tax on oil companies.
- Resources should be invested in a massive environmental transformation program that could insulate the economy from recession, and create countless new jobs.
- Overhaul a nation's building stock, and tackle the city. First up, he says, remove the money of oil companies pouring into cities. Re-list these companys' resources as "unburnable."
- Instead of using vast sums of public money to bail out banks (because they are considered "too big to fail"), banks should be reduced in size until they are small enough to fail without hurting anyone.
- With oil prices wobbling around $130, there is a huge amount of unearned profit waiting for a windfall tax (companies made profits when it was $10 a barrel). Money raised would go towards a long-overdue massive decarbonisation of our energy system.
- A rolling program to overhaul heat-leaking buildings and homes will massively cut emissions and tackle fuel poverty.
- Weaning agriculture off fossil-fuel dependency.
- The "one person, one car" on the roads, should be transformed to a variety of clean reliable forms of public transport. This should be visible by the middle of our 100 months.
If Simms is right, his conservative estimate of 100 months may be something we should be thinking about. Else, we might not be prepared for what most of us aren't counting on —— a widescale change of climate patterns and life as we know it.