Monday, February 25, 2008

Climate Code Red: The case for a sustainability emergency.

Climate change is a tricky issue to deal with as we all know. Scaring people to change behaviour doesn't work, big changes require large commitments but how can these be driven if not with the urgency of fear? Marketing companies are desperately trying to find a way to make climate change mitigation sexy...well, good luck with that! The general confusion tends to lead to conservatism in a time when we need radical change.

Targets are bandied around and rallied behind, 80 by 50 has become popular recently. A surprising number of US NGO's have rallied behind this despite the fact that this will leave the US having higher per capita emissions than the earth can absorb and on a timeline that many say is beyond the relevant range for dealing with this problem.

Finding our way through this is going to be tough, one point that i think we need to take is that different types of communication are needed in different contexts. If trying to sell 'green' products or services, it is a moot point as to if the green attributes should even take a high place in the marketing. When dealing with government programs, i looks increasingly like a rallying call is required, a well resourced, broad and serious attempt to cut carbon emissions on a short time frame. If we stop talking about 50 years and start talking about 5 years with regular targets for society then perhaps we can get there. Camaraderie is a way to make people feel that they can have an impact, moving a whole society, as if on a serious mission. The oft asked question 'why don't people get it, they just don't see how serious this is' has a surprisingly simple answer. No one is treating this as an emergency, if we have a war on climate change then where are the troops? It's well known that human behaviour is contextual so why should people take the extreme measure of not flying or not buying a car or spending a significant fraction of income on green home improvements. If government starts taking serious actions, funding programmes in a proportionate manner and allowing large numbers of people to access them then we just might kindle a 'climate change war spirit'.

This kind of argument has been made by the Breakthrough Institute who are promoting a government led 'global warming preparedness act'. More recently EcoEquity has produced a report calling for a climate change emergency agenda to be created.



Climate Change Action

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