Code Red for Humanity – How the CE Blueprint can switch  the alarm off to code green 

The reality of the here and now of our climate-nature crisis has been ratified in no uncertain terms in the IPCC Sixth Report, Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis , published this August 2021

Without meaningful and legally-binding action our future climate could well become some kind of hell of earth– says Prof Tim Palmer of Oxford University. 

This isn’t just another scientific report. This is hell and high water writ large, says Prof Dave Reay, Executive Director of Climate Change Institute

The UN-Secretary-General declares- ‘Code Red for Humanity’, stressing  ‘irrefutable’ evidence of human influence on the breakdown of our planetary life-support systems. 

 And according to a subsequent UNICEF Report, one billion children are at extreme risk of suffering the consequences of climate breakdown and environmental hazards. 

The global pandemic against a backdrop of extreme weather events have been but a foretaste of the unprecedented perturbations to civilisation that are in the making.  

This is unequivocal evidence that our leaders’ pledges need to become climate-nature policies-time is running out.

In the run-up to COP26 this year with the UK-along with Italy-at the summit’s helm, it is time for groundbreaking leadership – not piecemeal compromise and mere goodwill gestures and commitments.

Rhetoric is running empty on words.

Action is this: the passing of a  coherent joint climate-nature law in the form of the Climate and Ecology Blueprint that is the very kind of statute  that is commensurate to what is required- no half-measures -too late for that.

The CEE Blueprint is derived from the UK CE Bill that has been drafted with the insights and contributions of experts in the field of climate science, ecology, ecological economy, the legal profession  and academics in deliberative democracy. It may be explained in  three discrete parts. 

The CE Bill  is politically palatable because it is –

  • non-prescriptive
  •  and transcends political party allegiances

It is truly a bill for all seasons

The Bill begins with two interconnected targets –

  •  a climate target:  that the UK reduce its overall greenhouse gas emissions at a rate consistent with limiting the global temperature increase to 1.5C along the most ambitiously plausible pathway stated by the IPCC whilst fulfilling the Paris Agreement’s stated common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. 
  • On the nature target; now updated to equally reflect the significance and scope of the climate target- that the UK  halt and reverse the degradation and loss of nature caused by  UK activity to increase the health, diversity and abundance of species, population of ecosystems- as a baseline from 2020- so that by 2030 nature is visibly and measurably on the path of recovery
  • fulfilling its obligations under the UNConvention on Biological Diversity and its protocols, following the commitments set out in the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature, taking into account the United Kingdom’s and other countries’— (A) historical contributions to the degradation of nature; (B) common but differentiated responsibilities; and (C) respective capabilities, considering national circumstances

In other words, considering the UK’s historical carbon and ecological footprint debt on which its wealth has been built, the UK has a greater responsibility in the world to take the lead in the transition to a post-carbon, nature-positive economy. 

This leads on to the second part of the Bill- which stipulates ‘critical red lines’ of what should and should not inform the emergency strategy that is created to meet the climate-nature targets.

These critical red lines include a list of overarching principles such as –

  • Ensuring that we reduce the actual sources of our human-induced emissions as rapidly and as far as possible to net zero and end the exploration, extraction, export and import of fossil fuels
  • Counting our entire carbon footprint which includes embodied emissions in the imports of the goods we consume. 
  • Minimising, as far a possible, damage to ecosystems, food and water availability, and human health in steps we take to mitigate our emissions to net zero
  • Ensuring that measures will protect, restore and expand our natural habitats and actively enhance our cultivated ecosystems to protect and enhance biodiversity, ecological processes and their functioning as resilient carbon sinks, with safeguards against  harm to nature-here and abroad- as a consequence of UK generated activities
  • taking every possible step 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. 
  • Ensuring that we safeguard against negatively discriminating those vulnerable groups in society, including people whose livelihoods and jobs will be affected by the proposed measures, including those measures that require transitioning out of industries characterised by high emissions and high impacts on ecosystems. 

And finally, we may describe the third part of the CE Bill that states the binding timeframes and mechanisms by which the emergency ‘strategy’ -that will inform Government policies to meet the climate-nature targets- will be created. 

The Bill states that the Secretary of State/aka Government, must, within twelve months of the passing of this Act, publish and lay before Parliament a strategy (‘the strategy’) to achieve the dual climate-nature ‘targets’.

And that the emergency strategy must include annual interim targets consistent with the achievement of the targets.

The mechanism of decision-making calls for a ‘climate-nature’ assembly- in other words, a fully mandated citizens’ assembly that is a fully representative sample of the UK adult population. 

And that this ‘Assembly’ will learn from and deliberate with independent experts and work in collaboration with the Climate Change Committee and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, thereby jointly arriving at recommendations that will be put to Parliament for debate. 

Where there is at least 80% ‘Assembly’ consensus along with  the CCC or the JNCC, the Secretary of State must consider and try to reach agreement with those bodies on the inclusion of that recommendation in the strategy.

The Secretary of State must report annually to Parliament on the implementation of the strategy or necessary revisions required to meet the climate-nature targets. 

The creation of the emergency climate-nature strategy and of its implementation through Government policy will be subject to judicial review.

This CE Bill is the legislation that shall meet the UK climate-nature crisis challenge and may potentially provide the template/blueprint for advanced economies to adopt. Just imagine the sum replication of the CE Bill in law among the rich, net-consuming nations?

Imagine the emergent planetary security that would give hope, and cohesion, and repair  to the present and future prospects of our fracturing global civilization in the wake of the CEE ? 

We need to tell our elected politicians, policy-makers and  government ministers that passing such a CEE Blueprint into law will be a storm in a teacup compared to the cataclysm that’s really brewing.