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

Below is an introduction, followed by two parts:




Almost everyone wants the current inter-governmental negotiations to succeed: for, at the very least, the terms of the Paris Agreement to be met.

There is at the moment no guarantee that this fundamental need will be met. Worse – despite the Paris agreement and numerous other efforts, aggregate global emissions are still increasing.

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 strong suspicion 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. While a lack of political will certainly plays a role, effective action is being blocked 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 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 support 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 stand-alone solution to the climate change problem. Many other measures are required, including in particular changes in agricultural practices and 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


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


Note: To start the ball rolling, the text above was adapted and updated 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.

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. It you are interested in contributing in any way please email

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