Focus on solutions not problems.
It is extremely difficult to see a safe way through the next few decades without a drastic reorientation of priorities – towards recognition of our planet’s limits, regeneration of the environment, and reduction in our consumption. However, we need a new narrative that is not just an escape route from danger.
Effective change starts with a positive message – we need constructive, worthwhile reasons for mobilising and embracing the challenges we face. Is it doable? Yes. Many of the solutions already exist. Is it a sacrifice? No. The evidence grows day-by-day that a de-carbonised world is a more attractive world.
Address structural change.
There will always be other pressures on our communities – to improve educational services, deliver quality social services, create more employment opportunities. All of these things are necessary, some are more urgent than others, but none is sufficient in a resource-constrained world with an unstable environment.
Climate action is not the equal of these issues: it encompasses them all. We need structural change – measured in terms of our social equity, not simply economic growth; of our capacity to thrive, not simply consume; of our collective potential, not simply individual achievements.
Transform step by step by step.
How “big” is the transformation we should aim for? Too big and many will not take the leap; too small and many will not bother. The answer does not lie in
curbing the ambition behind our environment and climate actions, but in understanding the nature of transformation itself.
Transformative change is not about a blueprint; it is about the series of incremental steps we must take to get there. Reinvention may be piecemeal and seemingly incremental, but nonetheless is radical in its outcome if we persist in the same direction. We achieve the result we desire by working in ways that are best for the place where we live and for the people around us, by taking more and more steps in the same direction until we find ourselves running instead of walking.
Collaborate to go further.
While climate change brings fearsome risks, it also brings huge opportunities. Climate action creates an “unfrozen moment” when what was not socially or
politically possible becomes essential, when self-interest merges with collective wellbeing, and when there is the possibility to shape radical new policies for a potentially better, climate-changed future.
Seizing this moment requires more than top-down policy reforms or bottom-up grassroots programmes – it requires joined up collaboration and action at all levels.
Let local initiative lead implementation.
We cannot solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them, so there is a necessary process of “unlearning” and discovering
what really works through new experience. Yes, there is much more work to be done nationally and internationally – but there is also more work to be done locally where many people can have a real impact through their local knowledge. Innovation is perpetual, and is internal to implementing the plan. The point is to decentralise this initiative as much as possible, so that solutions to the same challenges can multiply.
Spark change in others.
Arguably the most important principle is to inspire action in others around us. Technically, meeting the goal of net-zero carbon is relatively straightforward, but socially and politically it is very challenging. Public authorities have become adept at “nudge” to change our civic behaviours and encourage us to cooperate in ways we are comfortable with: that is its strength and its weakness. We need nudge and inspiration, not simply influencing collective change but engendering change from within. To get more disruptive things done effectively needs inspired collective action.