Gaia is the whole Earth system comprising the planet and all life on Earth including the human species. Gaia in Turmoil is a collection of essays by leading scientists and other experts describing various aspects of Gaian science and knowledge, focussing especially on climate change and biodiversity destruction. As well as spelling out the facts about climate change and loss of biodiversity more clearly than anywhere else I have seen, the book has enabled me to see the potential for Humanity’s response in a new light.
What Gaian theory and Gaian thinking and discussion brings to issues such a climate change and biodiversity is the idea that the Earth system is self-regulating, in some ways rather like a living being, and in particular that life on Earth has helped to regulate conditions on the planet in ways that are favourable to life on Earth.
This has enabled me to see climate change as a symptom of Gaia’s ill health. Gaia is not well. The cause is not in doubt: the excessive use of fossil fuels. The remedy is equally clear: the system needs to be regulated by reducing the global total of carbon emissions from the use of fossil fuels.
We can also see Humanity’s role in responding to climate change in a new light. Because the human species is part of life on Earth we are part of, or at least we are capable of being part of, the Earth’s self-regulating system. In taking action to reduce carbon emissions from fossil fuels we are acting as part of Gaia’s self-regulating system. We are playing a Gaian role. This is Gaia’s response to a Gaian need.
As well as being the cause of Gaia’s ill health, humans are also the only species capable of restoring Gaia to health. Not by attempting to manage the Planet, as James Lovelock warned against, but by restraining our own damaging activities. We can do that by taking all sorts of action in our own individual lives, in our communities, in our own countries and in the international negotiations. In addition we can act on behalf of Humanity as a whole and the rest of life on Earth, by establishing a new global system to make sure that the global total of carbon emissions from the human use of fossil fuels is reduced as required by climate science – by something like 6% a year from now onwards.
The CapGlobalCarbon initiative is a Gaian initiative, a Gaian response to a Gaian need.
“Climate protection is a task for the whole of human- kind and must be perceived and tackled as such. Inter- national climate policy and civil-society initiatives are not opposed to each other; rather, they can powerfully complement each other. A world citizen movement can show that climate protection in and with society can work and even generate economic benefits. This is the form of interaction in which glob
al climate protection can and must succeed.”
The last paragraph of the Summary in the report of WBGU: CLIMATE PROTECTION AS A WORLD CITIZEN MOVEMENT, SPECIAL REPORT, SEPTEMBER 2014.
We share this stance and wholeheartedly believe that CapGlobalCarbon has a potential to combine the interests of both the civil-society initiatives and inter-national climate policy to properly address the challenge of climate change and poverty alleviation.
“Pope Francis, in his highly anticipated call to action against climate change, took an unexpected swipe at the cap-and-trade systems used in both California and Europe to control greenhouse gases. They may sound good, the pontiff argued. But they won’t work.” – David R. Baker
CapGlobalCarbon supporters have been encouraging California’s Cap & Trade program to implement market design more in line with a Cap & Dividend system, which would address some of the Pope’s criticism. Although the California system includes an escalating price floor on permit prices, and State legislation requires funds be used to assist disadvantaged communities, the type of system CGC advocates would be more effective at linking the needs of the poor and climate protection. Our analysis of the European Emission Trading Scheme is similar to that of Pope Francis and would like to see it replaced or heavily modified into an upstream cap on fossil fuels where the amount of licences is based on climate science.
Good article on the problems with carbon offsets:
“Carbon markets are in fact designed to seek out cheap emissions reductions such as HFC-23 destruction over fundamental structural changes to energy systems away from fossil fuels and towards renewables.”
But see also Aubrey Meyer’s comment at the end: the root of the problem is that there is currently no “budget” – ie limit or cap – for carbon.
The CapGlobalCarbon team sees this is as an indicator that the world seems to become increasingly ready to embrace our ideas.
We are delighted to see that the World Bank agrees that putting a price on carbon, no matter how high, cannot prevent disastrous climate change. From the RTCC blog:
Forty countries and 20 sub-national governments have adopted some form of carbon price, whether through taxation or markets.In its latest report on greening development, however, the World Bank admits “carbon pricing alone cannot solve the climate change problem”. There are “many market failures and behavioural biases that distort economies” it says – not just the failure to price in climate damage from greenhouse gas emissions.
We at CapGlobalCarbon share the understanding that a carbon tax will not be sufficient to halt climate change, yet the 5 recommendations given in the article do not make sure that the unburnable fossil fuels stay in the ground. We need to lower the rate at which fossil fuels leave the ground, not the burn-rate. CapGlobalCarbon is a mechanism that does just that: a science-based cap on the amount of fossil fuels extracted on a yearly basis.
On 30 March 2015, a group of current and ex-judges, advocates and professors from across the globe released the Oslo Principles on Global Climate Change Obligations. The Oslo Principles seek to overcome the political impasse which has so far obstructed agreement on defining a common international approach to climate change. An excerpt from the Oslo Principles document:
“Avoiding severe global catastrophe is a moral and legal imperative. To the extent that human activity endangers the biosphere, particularly through the effects of human activity on the global climate, all States and enterprises have an immediate moral and legal duty to prevent the deleterious effects of climate change. While all people, individually and through all the varieties of associations that they form, share the moral duty to avert climate change, the critical legal responsibility rests with States and enterprises.”
Little imagination is needed to see how this relates to CapGlobalCarbon. Where the Oslo Principles addresses the responsibility for nation-states and companies the CapGlobalCarbon project provides a straightforward way to take this responsibility. We are in contact with a number of authors from the Oslo Principles and will keep you updated on the developments of this promising development.