Why dual climate-nature laws are what the Earth’s crying out for !

A blueprint to inspire climate-ecology emergency measures alongside progressive, deliberative democracy, enshrined in law: exactly what’s needed to safeguard Mother Earth.

Why do we need an emergency dual climate & ecological model law?

Humanity’s life-system requires intensive care

The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.” 

IPBES Chair, Sir Robert Watson, UN IPBES Global Assessment Report

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

‘… 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 – should converge on addressing the dual crises of climate and ecological breakdown

Climate is inseparable from Earth’s ecosystems due to the biogeochemical carbon-cycle life-line that unites them. There has been a critical disruption of the carbon cycle’s equilibrium since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution whereby C02 concentrations  in the atmosphere have risen from about 280 parts per million to 387 parts per million, a 39% increase.

The carbon cycle is part of the biogeochemical Earth systems’ processes, along with the climate and biodiversity, are identified as the planetary boundaries that have already been breached as a consequence of  Anthropogenic (human-made)activities.

Carbon cycle: life’s recycler

Carbon is the backbone of life on Earth and its natural cycle moves it from the biosphere of organic and inorganic matter. Carbon constitutes the building blocks of carbohydrates, proteins and DNA and recycles through Earth’s closed environment of sources and sinks.

Take the humble earthworm: an invertebrate that interacts with microbiota that plays an essential role in regulating land atmospheric exchanges of the carbon and carbon-cycle feedbacks on climate change as just one of its life-giving ecosystemic roles.

Earth’s natural flux of the carbon cycle safeguarded Earth’s homeostasis until the Industrial Revolution, i.e. ‘progress’ in harnessing energy by combustion of the fossilised fixed carbon cycle, creating the waste product of additional carbon emissions.

Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere have risen from about 280 parts per million to 387 parts per million, an increase of 39%.

This means that for every million molecules in the atmosphere, 387 of them are now carbon dioxide—the highest concentration in two million years. Methane concentrations have risen from 715 parts per billion in 1750 to 1,774 parts per billion in 2005, the highest concentration in at least 650,000 years.

  • 1.1Cthe current global average increase above pre-industrial temperatures on a trajectory of  incremental rises that could provoke  9 critical tipping points.
  • 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
  • Tipping points could fundamentally disrupt the planet and produce abrupt change in the climate.
  • A mass methane release could put us on an irreversible path to full land-ice melt, causing sea levels to rise by up to 30 metres.

We must take immediate action to reduce global warming and build resilience with these tipping points in mind. (Ref. World Economic Forum, Davis, 2021)

  • Sixth Mass Extinction  – Earth’s ecological breakdown is underway -anthropogenic activities have breached our planetary boundaries through the passage of globally inequitable consumption. A fifth of the world’s countries is on the brink of ecosystem collapse.
  • The window for halting further permanent anthropogenic scars on our natural world that is driving biological annihilation via the Sixth Mass Extinction  is fast closing  according to The WWF Living Planet Index, 2020-Press Release: Global wildlife is in freefall, warned WWF today, as its flagship Living Planet Report 2020 reveals population sizes of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles have fallen an average of 68 per cent globally since 1970 – more than two thirds in less than 50 years.

Nature is being destroyed by humans at a rate never seen before, and this catastrophic decline is showing no signs of slowing, the study says. Intensive agriculture, deforestation and the conversion of wild spaces into farmland are among the main causes of nature loss, while over-fishing is wreaking havoc with marine life. 

he decline has happened even faster than anticipated in 2018, and the conservation charity is warning that without urgent global action, life on Earth will be pushed to the brink.

  • The WWF and Zoological Society of London’s Living Planet  Report 2020 states: in the last 50 years our world has been transformed by an explosion in global trade, consumption and human population growth, as well as an enormous move towards urbanisation. 
  • Until 1970, humanity’s Ecological Footprint was smaller than the Earth’s rate of regeneration. To feed and fuel our 21st century lifestyles, we are overusing the Earth’s biocapacity by at least 56%
  • 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.

What’s the state of nature in your country?

Have you ever faced the harmful effects of our ecological and climate crisis?

Here are a few examples that have recently been in the press:

The role of climate change in Europe’s deadly floods

The deadly floods in Germany and Belgium in July claimed the lives of over 220 people. Global warming means such extreme rainfall events will become more intense and more frequent. In the German town of Altenahr, residents are facing up to this new reality. 

The Ahr-region was devastated by the floods, and in Altenahr we witnessed broken bridges, wrecked businesses and destroyed homes. With the clean-up still on-going, the question of how to rebuild hangs in the air. (Ref. Euronews, 2021)

Study finds alarming levels of ‘forever chemicals’ in US mothers’ breast milk

Toxic chemicals known as PFAS found in all 50 samples tested at levels nearly 2,000 times what is considered safe in drinking waterThe peer-reviewed study, published on Thursday in the Environmental Science and Technology journal, found PFAS at levels in milk ranging from 50 parts per trillion (ppt) to more than 1,850ppt. (Ref. The Guardian, 13 May 2021)  

‘It’s terrifying’: the English village overwhelmed by landfill stink

For miles around Walleys Quarry in Silverdale, people have reported waking up in the night struggling to breathe Hydrogen sulphide fumes escaping from Walleys Quarry landfill can be smelled for miles around (Ref. The Guardian, May 2021)

Study links childhood air pollution exposure to poorer mental health

Research found that those who grow up amid heavy traffic pollution have higher rates of mental illness by age 18

There is a link between exposure to nitrogen oxides and particulate matter in childhood and the development of disorders such as anxiety and depression, the academics said.

The findings are from a 25-year-long joint British/American study of 2,039 children – all twins – born in England and Wales during 1994 and 1995, whose mental health was assessed at 18. (Ref. The Guardian, April 2021)

Have you ever been physically and psychologically faced with the ill effects of environmental breakdown?

Please do share your story… 

There are various approaches to foment fundamental change…but some take longer than others

But first: the ubiquitous political ‘Pledge’…

How many times will we hear the empty words rattle so deafeningly from those who wield power? 

In response to such damning environmental findings, what has been the public response from our world leaders?Political leaders participating in the United Nations Summit on Biodiversity in September 2020; committed to reversing biodiversity loss by 2030 on the declaration of ‘‘The Leaders Pledge for Nature

UN COP26 outcome: The Glasgow Climate Pact -key principles & 1.5C Paris Agreement…

….in the final COP26 Draft decision -/CMA.3, ratified as The Glasgow Climate Pact, in its preamble, therein it explicitly states that we are dealing with a synergistic planetary emergency of climate and ecology in the context of global justice.

List your government’s (national and/or state), rhetoric, plans and pledges….

What of that rhetoric, plans and pledge is substantially in the process of becoming or has become, legislation?

Research your country’s…

  • Carbon footprint -i.e. Net out-sourced consumption emissions compared to territorial emissions
  • Ecological footprint -i.e. Material consumption of demand, including pollution and waste along supply chains

Does your country have…

  • Legally-binding carbon budgets?
  • If so, are these tied to the 2020 NDCs?
  • What nature targets are enshrined in law?

And what are the caveats and exemptions?

What is your country’s record on climate-nature action?

  1. Carbon tracker-countries
  2. NDCs
  3. Convention on Biological Diversity Targets
  4. Leaders’ Pledge for Nature
  5. Deliberative Democracy in the CEE

And a thought experiment – have you ever tried to…

  • trace your consumption footprint
  • take any material item and trace its origins
  • identify how your country facilitates your consumption to become more ethically green?

So, where are we at for dual climate-nature legislation? 

Let’s see the general trajectory of environmental legislation in the advanced economy countries 

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 nature-climate laws that reflect the Minority World advanced economy countries’ environmental responsabilities- 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 and Ecology Bill is a serious proposal for a policy-transfer in the form of country-adapted versions of this CEE-Blueprint.

Find common ground….

…with NGOs, experts and influencers…

  • Go beyond the eco-echo-chamber, into mainstream
  • Engage business -of all hues
  • Educate and Engage within contexts that are relatable to your community
  • Introduce the concept of deliberative democracy- eg. citizens’ assemblies

Why Citizens’ Assemblies?

  • A complementary solution to the shortcomings of our current democracy
  • An empowering concept for all citizens
  • A true representativeness
  • An innovative approach for more democratic decisions
  • An inclusive process, where all voices can be heard
  • A new breath of life for trust, togetherness and democracy

Ref. https://citizens-democracy.ch/why-citizens-assemblies/

Why is it the politically ripe time for this CEE Bill/’’blueprint’’ to be advocated and adopted as a model law? As it is disrupting ‘business-as-usual’, in that it is – 

  • Non prescriptive- the CEE strategy that produces the legislation  is determined by a citizens’ assembly collaborating directly with elected politicians and law-makers
  • Apolitical
  • Stipulating a synergistic climate-nature objective, a set of principles and a time-sensitive framework resistant to regression and greenwash

Please join the CEE ‘blueprint’ initiative to lobby your country/ state to legislate for a a mechanism of deliberative democracy to produce transformative policy for –

  • the protection and rejuvenation of Earth’s biosphere- its flora and fauna
  • greenhouse gases mitigation  
  • within the context of climate and ecological justice