Thoughts about CapGlobalCarbon

This section is for sharing some of the thinking that led to this initiative and also speculation about its prospects. Contributions are invited and should be addressed to (You can also use our contact form.)

Below is an introduction, followed by two parts:



Note: To start the ball rolling, the following material has been taken from John Jopling’s paper published by the Green House think tank in February 2015. It is appreciated that these passages do no more than scratch the surface of some of the complex issues that will be involved.


Everyone wants the current inter-governmental negotiations to succeed: for the negotiators to reach agreement and for that agreement, together with the many bottom up initiatives around the world, to result in the global reductions of worldwide global warming emissions, in particular carbon emissions, necessary to avoid runaway climate change, the global total of emissions being all that matters in the context of avoiding calamitous change in the Earth’s climate system. Some observers at the recent inter-governmental meeting in Lima, Lord Stern for example, consider it unlikely that an adequate agreement will be achieved at the crucial meeting in Paris later this year. There is no need to assess the chances of all current efforts combined somehow between them bringing about the necessary aggregate global reduction of emissions that everyone is hoping for. It is enough to state that there is at the moment no guarantee that this fundamental need will be met.

So this is the current position. We can reduce our own consumption of fossil fuels, as individuals or at the local level, we can invest in electricity generated from renewables, we can take part in local initiatives, we can campaign for more governmental action. But as matters stand, nothing we can do alters the statement that there is at present no guarantee of achieving the reductions in fossil fuel emissions identified by climate science as necessary for the avoidance of runaway climate change.

This is a very worrying situation. The science on climate change is worrying enough. The knowledge that there is nothing really effective we can do about it is worse. A lot of people shy away from thinking about it, not because they are climate deniers, but because they can’t see light at the end of the tunnel.

CapGlobalCarbon is based on the proposition that this is a systemic problem. At the moment there is nothing we can do to make sure that irreversible climate change is avoided. But the problem is not a lack of political will, as is often stated. Effective action is currently blocked not by a lack of will but by the inadequate design of the current institutional infrastructure at both national and inter-national levels. The remedy lies in our own hands. Acting as global citizens on behalf of the whole of humanity and future generations, even on behalf of the whole of life on Earth, we can establish and put into operation an independent, science-based system to make sure that, whatever deal is negotiated between nation-state governments in Paris, the necessary radical reductions of the aggregate global total of carbon emissions are achieved. The new system would need the cooperation of nation-state governments to police it, but it removes the blocking power they currently wield. It would operate alongside and in cooperation with current inter-national structures but independently from them. It would enable political action outside the UNFCCC, such as people putting pressure on their own governments to cooperate with the new global system. As explained below, it would enable judges to grant injunctions against fossil fuel companies or governments.

It should also be stressed at the outset that those behind CapGlobalCarbon are only too well aware that climate change is a classic ‘wicked problem’, the kind of problem to which there is by definition no definite solution. CapGlobalCarbon is not proposed as a solution to the climate change problem. Many other strategies are required, including in particular strategies to draw down from the atmosphere much carbon that is already in place.


  • The current system is not suitably designed to address global problems
  • A systems solution
  • The origins of CapGlobalCarbon
  • The CapGlobalCarbon concept takes shape
  • Recent developments


  • What would be the relationship between CapGlobalCarbon and the UNFCCC?
  • How would CapGlobalCarbon relate to nation-state governments?
  • Would CapGlobalCarbon be attractive to Business?
  • The social justice element of CapGlobalCarbon
  • The possibility of supportive legal actions
  • Legitimacy and competence
  • Getting CapGlobalCarbon off the ground


CapGlobalCarbon is a proposal by members of the Irish think-tank Feasta, the foundation for the economics of sustainability.  Implementation will require a new organisation with large resources and influential champions as well as widespread support. Will anyone interested in contributing in any way please contact us.

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