Just back from hols. Lots to do. Happy New Year everybody - I am filled with optimism for the New Year. Let’s make it a Planet Positive world!!
I am ill and have been bed bound since boxing day and it looks like I will still be in bed until next year ( just a few days to go thank goodness!). In between my relapses I have taken the opportunity to do things that I would not normally get the time to do, like read this amazing book.
I am looking for inspiration next year and Kahlil Gibran offers a mirror and lens. A mirror to view the past but also a lens through which to view the future. The key decision will be how to live the present!
The book was first published in 1926 and I have posted a few quotations from his writings
Of Work ‘You work so that you may keep pace with the earth and the soul of the earth. For to be idle is to become a stranger unto the seasons and to step out of life’s processions that marches in majesty and proud submission towards the infinite…when you work you fulfil a part of earth’s furthest dream assigned to you when that dream was born’
Of Buying and Selling- ‘ To you the earth yields her fruit and you shall not want if you but know how to fill your hands. It is in exchanging gitts of the earth that you shall find abundance and be satisfied. Yet unless the exchange be in love and kindly justice, it will lead to greed and others to hunger’
Of Reason and Passion - ‘ Your reason and your passion are your rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul. If either of your sails or your rudder is broken you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas’
Of Talking - ‘And in much of your talking, thinking is murdered…for thought is a bird of space that in a cage of words may indeed unfold its wings but cannot fly’
I have chosen the first three quotes because in some way they are all relevant to Planet Positive - Our work constantly reminds us of our connectedness to the planet, it is our destiny(?). We believe in the just distribution of its resources;what we do is is our passion and reason.
The fourth I offer as a dilemma. Is it better to find time and space to think without boundaries or is it sometimes necessary to take action and in doing so accept that there are limits in what you can do? How can we translate this freedom of thought into freedom of action?
30th December 2008
As to the amount of change needed we only need to look at what the UK Government is saying - a 80% reduction against 1990 baseline. This is not a small saving, this is no less than a paradigm shift in how individuals and businesses manage carbon.
Mel goes on to say ‘As for culture change, I believe we’re starting to see the philospohical change already, but as often happens, the action is lagging the mindset. Which can be very frustrating, but gives hope also’
I agree entirely, what we are not yet seeing is a mass change movement in how people ( you and I) are living our lives and nor are we seeing any real sea change in the choices we make. The sentiment is there, but still lacking concrete action. It is only when we all start demanding a different approach and start changing our buying habits that will we even begin to see the change that is needed.
This is what Planet Positive is all about; creating a ground swell in change, and empowering people through the choices they make to encourage business to change as well. Planet Positive It is also a message of hope and belief in what we have is WORTH saving!
I would be very interested to hear from anyone as to how this may be accelerated and what we at Planet Positive can do to encourage this.
15 December 2008
Planet Positive is about taking action now. Whilst it establishes a new standard for companies and individuals in environmental acievement it is, most importantly, a call to action; Action to take steps to reduce.
I think that most people recognise the need to do something and that only by acting together with a joint voice can we collectively make a difference. We recognise that the world in which we live, is totally interconnected and that our emissions here do ultimately have an impact somewhere else in the world.
The trouble is that we feel disconnected and so like the bomb blast in Afganistan, which initially inspires utter horror and disgust quickly becomes only another ‘feel bad’ news item leaving us feeling inept and frustrated at our inability to stop or help - We cannot smell it so we cannot feel it?
And yet, direct impact is all around us. Hurricanes, rising food prices in our shops, water droughts and flooding. These are all clear and present consequences of climate change and a direct result of our continued and increasing carbon pollution.
But the real question is ‘ Are we ready to take responsibility; Are we ready to do something in the short term to preserve our way of ilfe; Are we ready to change our habits and invest in our collective futures?’
I like to think the answer is a resounding YES and so today I am launching a campaign ‘Act Now!’ and I have identified two specific goals.
The first goal is to share any clear and present evidence that is out there that shows that climate change is affecting us NOW. For instance, a crop failure due to lack of water caused by drought, or increased pollution on our streets due to increased car use, or even a business that is suffering becasue it has not tackled the issue. I will call this objective ‘Clear and Present’
The second is to collect ideas from you about what we can do to make a difference. Whilst I am happy about gettting a list of the obvious such as turning lights off etc, I especially want ideas about how we can change the culture of consumption and emission. How do we encourage people and businesses to change their inhabits and make it cool to be cool, sexy to be low carbon and profitable to be sustainable. I will call this objective ‘Top tips’
We launch our new web site on the 17th December and I want to be able to feature, on an ongoing basis results from this campaign with case studies and support that you may have so please get writing! Thanks
12th December 2008
The debate rages on. Here are a few snippets
Mark Trexler writes- Given the clear potential of carbon offsets to contribute to climate change mitigation objectives, any argument that offsets should be discarded must demonstrate more than that carbon offset systems have not been perfectly implemented. If we are going to slow climate change, we need every tool at our disposal.
JF Mernard writes- Offsets are the life-blood, the ultimate tool inherited and offered to all participating citizens and stakeholders in our society to curb the effect of global warming on our planet. For that reason alone offsets shall be an ever-increasing share of all GHG policy frameworks as this war on our changing climate is taking place. Quite simply, no other equivalent exists.
Ward Crawford writes- The proposition should therefore be opposed, not because offsets are ineffective in reducing emissions, but because an admirable objective has not yet been implemented effectively.
James Emanuel writes; In conclusion, the use of carbon offsets achieves a benefit to the environment (the reductions of GHG emissions that wouldn’t otherwise occur) together with a benefit to the economy (access to lowest cost compliance with carbon constraints). It appears to be a win-win situation.
At their very hypothetical best, then offsets would still only be a “zero-sum” game rather than a reduction in emissions levels, and reductions are what are urgently needed.
Carbon offsets are also being used indiscriminately by corporations and governments as a means of justifying the development or expansion of carbon-intensive infrastructure that will lock us into future decades of high emissions levels.
KFJ writes - My major concern with carbon offsets is that businesses think they can buy their way out of the problem completely rather than grasping the nettle of their own emissions. Businesses that emit carbon seek a PR benefit (if voluntary) or an economic benefit (if part of a mandatory scheme). They basically want the problem to go away with a simple declaration of ‘carbon neutrality’. But there are not enough projects to meet demand, due presumably to lack of resources, so new voluntary ‘rating agencies’ (those mentioned in some responses here) are set up, which essentially are there to give backing to projects which otherwise would NOT get approved by the UN.
Ken - It occurs to me that this form of free market approach fails as a mechanism for reducing CO2 emissions–namely, it is, as far as I can see, impossible to verify. Nor is there any regulatory body responsible for following up. Finally, it moves the responsibility away from the political process
And then this one from KiwiBuzz….. My inclination is to vote yes. However, this leaves me in a quandary. The debate is based on the assumption that man-made greenhouse gases cause dangerous global warming. The evidence against this hypothesis gets stronger every day that the world temperatures do not increase above the 1998 peak and the definite cooling trend that has set in since 2002 continues. Most of the so-called evidence for manmade GW consists of the output of computer models that failed to predict this cooling trend. For that reason, and for many others, they are worthless. Evidence based on sunspots predicts continued cooling.
i) That offsetting is bad because it persuades companies not to reduce
ii) That offsetting cannot be policed properly and that the rules of additionality do not work
iii) That even if companies go to zero then that is not enough.
My comments as follows
i) All companies need to reduce and most companies now see the benefit of being responsible with their emissions not least because it keeps their costs down and the costs of offsetting down. If not it is in the power of the consumer to show their displeasure.
ii) We have a system, it is working in that it is encouraging companies to engage. Agreed, it is not perfect, but let’s work together to fix it to ensure we get rid of those carbon cowboys
iii) I agree, zero is not enough. Every company should go beyond zero to operate in a carbon negative business environment to become Planet Positive
I also note Kevin Smith’s concern over the building of ‘carbon intensive infrastructure’ and this blog shares his concerns. We need Planet Positive Infrastructure ( see previous blogs)
And as to KiwiBuzz…are there really people out there who still believe this stuff!!!!
10th December 2008
I am watching the debate with interest as the vote swings inexorably in favour of those against carbon offsetting. There are many views against ranging from the specific (preventing Brazil reach an agreement on REDD) and the reduction stick bashers. I have sympathy with the specifics but less so for the reduction stick bashers. I have been practicing as an engineer whose sole purpose in life over the past 16 years has been energy efficiency. Telling companies to reduce by 80% because ‘they have to’ when it costs them more and more to make those reductions does not work. They need a financial incentive.
If carbon investment is not the answer (which I still believe it is part of) then perhaps a Planet Positive world carbon fund that taxes all businesses and individuals and incentivises products and systems that do deliver real reductions.
The point is that we can’t just sit there on the sidelines screaming REDUCE. It’s not working! We have to get off our backsides and do something about it that engages the whole world ( the rich and the poor).
6th December 2008
A New Urban Paradigm
By 2050 80% of the world’s population will live in or around cities and how we manage their development will have a massive impact on the planet and its resources.
The social, environmental and economic consequences of the development cycle are considerable and have a global impact and if we continue to use the same urban models that have been used for the past 100 years then our future demise is sealed; carbon dioxide levels will increase above 750ppm and we will pass the point of no return when negative feedback loops will accelerate global warming beyond our ability to control it.
The time has come to recognize that we need a new model for urban planning that is based on the development of positive infrastructure solutions and collaboration across all nations for the good of the planet.
Planet Positive Cities
As cities grow and new cities are developed so we need to generate new models that encourage and incentivise new positive development. A Planet Positive city is defined as a development that has a net positive impact on the climate and would lead to a new concept in urban design and twin cities.
The new model would achieve the following
- Reduced footprint
- Dedicated urban sinks around or distributed throughout the city that would provide the following
- Net carbon absorbers
- Water and waste processing
- Biodiversity and ecological capacity
- Leisure and well being
- Clean air lungs/climatic moderation
- Where land is unavailable then a twinned city relationship would be adopted by linking with a city/town in a poorer nation that contracts to provide matching environmental services that take the net impact beyond neutral to Planet Positive