Case for the Climate & Ecological Emergency Blueprint : Why? What? How? When?

Humanity’s life-system requires intensive care – 

          Case for the Climate & Ecological Emergency ‘blueprint’ as law

Why? What? How? When ?


We have, what maybe, our last opportunity to make this step change… 

Perhaps the most significant lesson brought by these last 12 months has been that we are no longer separate nations, each best served by looking after its own needs and security. We are a single truly global species whose greatest threats are shared and whose security must ultimately come from acting together in the interests of us all. 

‘…… recognise the moral responsibilities that wealthy nations have to the rest of the world and put a value on nature that goes far beyond money. And through global cooperation we may achieve far more than tackling climate change. We may finally create a stable, healthy world, where resources are equally shared, and where we thrive in balance with the rest of the natural world. We may, for the first time in the entire history of humanity, come to know what it feels like to be secure. ‘ (Sir David Attenborough on Climate and Security – Security Council Open VTC, 23rd February 2021).

The Duality of Climate & Nature – the integrity of the biosphere

In December 2020, experts from the two UN science policy-bodies- IPCC and IPBES agreed that COP26 and CBD15 – including work on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework  and the 2030 Agenda  for Sustainable Development  should converge on addressing the dual crises of climate and ecological breakdown. The post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, touted to be the Paris Agreement of biodiversity, a 10-year consensus-based action plan to reverse nature loss, mobilise funding and set in place governance measures.

  • Climate is inseparable from Earth’s ecosystems due to biosphere’s carbon-cycle life-line that unites them 
  • Anthropogenic/human-induced activities have brought about the critical disruption of the carbon cycle equilibrium
  • Climate change is the third largest driver of biodiversity loss
  • Human-modified land– ie agriculture, forestry and other land use (AFOLU) accounts for an average of 23% of anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) combined as CO2 equivalents in 2007–2016
  • Global societal supply chain extraction, degradation and pollution and waste production of Earth’s natural resources and ecosystems to fuel consumption is disproportionately  perpetrated by the ‘industrialised’ advanced economies of the Minority World at the expense of the Majority World. Where both carbon and ecological footprint per capita are considered as two sides of the same coin then this adds up to corresponding levels of  societal consumption

According to Carbon Brief’s analysis on ‘COP26 Key Outcomes for food, forests, land use and nature in Glasgow’ :

‘’ ….food, land and nature did feature at the summit in a series of pledges, speeches, initiatives and coalitions over the course of the two weeks. These included promises of action and finance towards more sustainable supply chains and protecting nature and restoring ecosystems.

Some critics found the UK COP presidency’s reliance on major pledges and pacts to be a distraction from the nitty-gritty of the negotiations.’

Thus, pacts without legal clout leaves measurable implementation and accountability wanting 

This leaked report has received attention all around the world and stresses the urgency of our situation. The summary of the leaked report is as follows- :

  • Life on Earth can survive climate change and new species will adapt and evolve to their changed environment. Humans cannot adapt in the same way
  • The current situation is this: extraordinary temperatures recorded around the world, such as those approaching 50C in Canada; flash floods such as those in Germany, Belgium and China, with hundreds of casualties; and wildfires spreading across much of the globe- in both the Minority and Majority Worlds. 
  • CO2 emissions must reach a maximum within 4 years, with net zero emissions reached between 2050 and 2075.
  • No new power stations utilising coal or gas should be built, and existing ones should have their lifespan shortened from the usual 30 years to around 10 years
  • It is known that to achieve net zero global carbon emissions, negative emissions technologies will have to be used. However, there are certain issues that must be discussed- not only does overpromotion of negative emissions technologies further the false paradigm that our advanced technology can take care of everything (rather than us needing to cut our emissions), there are serious doubts that the soil will be able to capture enough carbon.  
  • On the other hand, the changes in current energy technology are not enough to deal with the scale of the problem. While there have been great strides made in lowering the price of renewable energies and battery technology, solar and wind power still account for only 7% of global energy supply. 
  • While it is hoped that there will be a full transition from petrol-powered cars to electric cars in the near future, there is no replacement yet for heavy machinery which relies on diesel/fuel oil/etc. Further research must be done in order to decarbonise.
  • Global warming associated with the various published emission scenarios ranges from less than 1.5ºC to more than 5ºC by 2100 compared to pre-industrial levels. The baseline scenarios without new climate policies lead to an average global warming of between 3.3ºC and 5.4ºC. The average temperature on Earth is about 1.5 degrees Celsius.
  • According to post-COP26 Climate Action Tracker data- 

What will it mean to humanity if we limit  global heating (the mean temperature) to 1.5C compared to the pre-industrial era ? 

The scientific context-

  • About one-third of the roughly 40 models that have run climate-sensitivity tests predict more than 4.5 °C of warming if CO2 levels double, puzzling scientists who believe that such extreme levels of warming are implausible given other lines of evidence.
  • climate change itself is advancing, and recent studies show that increasingly extreme weather events are now emerging above the noise of natural variability.

Precautionary Principle if ignored – 

  • B.3. On land, impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems, including species loss and extinction, are projected to be lower at 1.5°C of global warming compared to 2°C. Limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared to 2°C is projected to lower the impacts on terrestrial, freshwater and coastal ecosystems and to retain more of their services to humans
  • B.5. Climate-related risks to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security, and economic growth are projected to increase with global warming of 1.5°C and increase further with 2°C. (Ref.
  • The IPCC report gives a comprehensive update on the knowns of climate change, and that makes for grim reading. But it also makes the point that climate models don’t include ‘low probability-high impact’ events, such as drastic changes in ocean circulation, that also become more likely the more the climate is changed. 
  • According to a report in the Guardian: ‘Climate scientists have detected warning signs of the collapse of the Gulf Stream, one of the planet’s main potential tipping points-
  • The research found “an almost complete loss of stability over the last century” of the currents that researchers call the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation. (AMOC). The currents -that distribute energy according to ocean density and salinity – are already at their slowest point in at least 1,600 years and there is now evidence of a weakening of these currents since the mid-20th century but the new analysis shows they may be nearing a shutdown. ’The AMOC is an important component of the Earth’s climate system and is responsible for keeping much of Europe mild. A collapse of the AMOC would mean global climate instability, with harsh weather meaning food shortages around the world. 

The Political context- Climate-Nature Legislation : the need for joined-up thinking.

Many Minority World-advanced economies have passed or are in the process of drafting laws that segregate climate from ecology/environment. Furthermore, whilst politically aligned to the Paris Agreement and the UN’s SDGs, these potential pieces of legislation have serious shortfalls and caveats that are simply not commensurate with the climate-nature emergency. It is therefore vital that robust, joint climate-nature laws that reflect the Minority World advanced economy countries’ environmental responsibilities- nations  that have a disproportionately larger ecological and carbon footprint-  to implement laws that recalibrate our consumption patterns to fall within sustainable and thriving planetary boundaries. This is where the climate-nature ‘blueprint’ initiative-derived from the UK’s Climate & Ecology Bill is a serious proposal for policy-transfer in the form of country-adapted versions of this Climate and Ecological Emergency Blueprint .

Take as an example, UK current environmental legislation and why the CEE Bill is required- 

  • Currently, the Climate Change Act and the proposed Environment Bill are siloed UK measures with which to address the evolving nature-climate cataclysm. There is no coherent interaction between them. And neither will meet the radical ‘objectives’ to enable the degree of action now required to halt and reverse Earth’s habitable thriving state.
  • The Climate and Ecological Emergency (CEE)Bill recognises the fundamental synergy between nature and climate and sets objectives aligned to the gold standard of the  best available science. The CEE Bill demands what must be expected of the UK as an advanced-economy, ‘Minority World’ country,  and reflective of its past and current rates of consumption. The CEE Bill does not prescribe solutions -it sets out the conditions and standards for emergency climate-nature objectives to be met through meaningful public involvement in the form of a citizens’ assembly, in collaboration with experts and parliament to determine the legislation to trigger Earth’s restoration. 
  • Non-prescriptive and facilitating  deliberative democracy through a citizens’ assembly: sortition is used to assemble a cross-representation of civil society working in collaboration with UK Government and Parliament in order to deliver a thoroughly mandated set of recommendations that will formulate the emergency strategy to meet the CEE Bill objectives. Transformative politics issuing from the ‘strategy’ will have cross-party buy-in and will supersede partisan interests and manifestos.
  • The CEE Bill and the Act to follow TRANSCENDS party politics to legislate policies to serve humanity. 
  • The CEE Bill – unlike conventional legislative proposals that are solutions-focused- provides a universal  framework and set of principles that can act as a potential blueprint for other advanced economies to play their fair part in implementing legally-binding climate-nature targets. Policy transfer makes sense when addressing global accountability, such as the international adoption of consumption-based emissions and ecological impact  accounting for NET importers of high consumption.  

Current rhetoric,  pledges and plans must become legislation and subject to judicial review otherwise, they aren’t worth the paper they’re written on –

Five main interventions (“levers”) can generate transformative change by tackling the underlying indirect drivers of the deterioration of nature: (1) incentives and capacity-building; (2) cross-sectoral cooperation; (3) pre-emptive action; (4) decision-making in the context of resilience and uncertainty; and (5) environmental law and implementation. (IPBES, 2019)

An Imagined Future must become reality for the security of global civilisation –

  • Degrowth of extractive consumption vs regrowth of regenerative activity
  • Pollution and waste buried vs Re-use, repair, recycling unearthed
  • Gross Domestic Product vs  Gross Domestic Prosperity within Earth’s ecological budget 
  • An industrial ‘Green’ Revolution based on Doughnut Economics 
  • Global civil unrest vs humanity’s equilibrium
  • Climate & ecological injustice vs equitable humanitarian  responsibility
  • International law against ecocide

What ? 

What does the CEE Bill say?

Two Objectives: ie an interleaving  ‘climate’ and nature’ target- one existential concern: to restore a thriving life on Earth –

It is on the following premise that the UK must lead on groundbreaking legislative action in its role a co-president at COP26, that as –

  • one of the wealthiest net carbon importing advanced economies, built on the spoils of its Industrial Revolution and colonialism – the UK has a moral responsibility to address the consequential fallout of its historical carbon and ecological debt to the current planetary crisis.  Thus, the CEE Bill legislates for the most radical and fairest pathway for the UK 
  • to reduce its overall contribution to greenhouse gas emissions at a rate consistent with at least a 66% chance of limiting peak global mean temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels, guided by gold standard principles of emissions’ mitigation and global equity, underpinned by the principles set out by the Paris Agreement
  • AND 
  • to halt and reverse its overall contribution to the degradation and loss

of nature in the United Kingdom and overseas thereby— (i) increasing the health, abundance, diversity and resilience of species, populations, habitats and ecosystems so that by 2030 nature is visibly and measurably on the path of recovery, and— (ii) fulfilling its obligations under the UNCBD and its protocols, following the commitments set out in the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature and the Nature Positive 2030 goals-including ecosystems’ flora, fauna of bio abundance, biodiversity, and of their soils, water and air quality – caused by UK cycles of consumption. 

How ?

The CEE Bill provides –

i) a framework that –

  • Provides the architecture for the most progressive and inclusive form of democracy: a climate-nature assembly(‘citizens’ assembly’), in collaboration with the Government commissioned expert bodies, to decide on and create, through a structured process of informed deliberation, the emergency climate-nature ‘strategy’; 
  • Allows the sovereignty of the democratically elected Members of Parliament by ensuring that the created emergency strategy is approved and passed by a majority; 
  • Safeguards the autonomy of devolved powers in the UK to formulate region-specific policies; 
  • Ensures that the emergency climate-nature strategy must include annual interim targets consistent with the achievement of the objectives and that non-regression of standards is upheld in the legislation.


  • ii) the stipulated principles to which both the climate-nature assembly and the Government commissioned expert bodies must adhere to, to ensure a gold-standard, best practice approach embedding social equity – and ensuring that the UK-
  • Reduce its total UK generated emissions caused by human activity to zero as rapidly and as far as possible; that the exploration, extraction, export and import of fossil fuels cease.
  • Calculates and therefore accounts for, its embedded emissions in its imports for our consumption, passenger flights and shipping
  • Takes steps to mitigate emissions minimise, as far as possible, damage ecosystems, food and water availability, human health;
  • Takes every possible step to restore and expand its natural ecosystems, and enhance the management of its cultivated ecosystems to protect and enhance biodiversity, ecological processes and ecosystem service provision, including climate change mitigation; 
  • Takes every possible step is taken to avoid, limit—and where limiting is not possible—compensate for the adverse impacts of United Kingdom-generated cycles of consumption, trade, financing and production on ecosystems and human health; including, but not limited to, the extraction of raw materials, deforestation, land degradation, pollution and waste production.
  • Takes steps  to restore, regenerate and enhance ecosystems in the UK and elsewhere where activity  generated from the UK is harmful to such ecosystems
  • Where all above steps taken to increase the health, abundance, diversity and resilience of species, populations and ecosystems, that these follow the mitigation and conservation hierarchy, with avoidance of the loss of nature prioritised;
  • Ensures that the measures in the strategy must include sufficient financial support and retraining  to  those most vulnerable in society whose livelihoods and wellbeing would be most affected by transitioning policies that move society to a post-carbon, positive nature economy suffer no discrimination nor economic penalty. 

The framework makes provision for a mechanism of decision-making whereby a climate-nature assembly -through the process of sortition(the random selection of a cross-representative sample of the population)- generates a set of recommendations under the guidance of  independent experts, to create the strategy that will meet the targets. This strategy then laid before /presented to, and must be approved, by Parliament. The ‘Assembly’ will be reconvened where revision of the ‘strategy’ is necessary.

Which aspects are legally-binding ?

The CEE Bill in its entirety becomes law and this includes –

  • The dual climate-nature targets; 
  • The evaluating, monitoring, and reporting annually on the implementation of the strategy on the achievement of the interim targets
  • The 12 month timeframe from the passing of this Act; the stipulated principles
  • The stipulated principles to which the recommendations must adhere
  • The decision-making mechanism that is set up and conducted to generate the strategy that will inform climate-nature policy
  • The motion passed/agreement on the emergency climate-nature strategy to meet the dual climate-nature targets by Parliament; and the Government’s responsibility to implement the said strategy into policy and in safeguarding against any regression/backsliding of the strategy-policies.

When ?

On the publication of the IPCC Physical Science Basis, AR6 on 11th August 2021 the landmark report was described by the UN Secretary General as  “… a code red for humanity” but  that-

 “If we combine forces now, we can avert climate catastrophe. But, as today’s report makes clear, there is no time for delay and no room for excuses. I count on government leaders and all stakeholders to ensure COP26 is a success.”

Code red for humanity means that we need the Climate & Ecological Emergency ‘blueprint’ as model law for high-consumption, advanced economies, as a matter of urgency.