Now is the time to let go of the old. What this pandemic is showing us is how radical changes need to be.
THE GREAT PAUSE – feeling directly the benefits around us of this great pause in our frenetic culture
What a roller coaster we are on. Only a few months ago our main felt experience was the reality of climate change (the intensity of raging bushfires and biblical flooding) and now so many very different feelings, but one of them being feeling directly the benefits around us of this great pause in our frenetic culture. We can look up and see clear skies and brighter stars. We can look around and sense the changes in the animals and birds with whom we share this earth, as nature breaths a bit deeper and comes physically closer to a quieter humanity. From bushfires burning to whole economies grounded along with the worlds carbon pumping aircraft fleets. All in the turning of the season and the Covid Spring.
This so extra-ordinary northern spring, like no other in living memory, might be being seen as the model for acting together on the climate emergency. What Extinction Rebellion has been calling for can come to be, surely? But from the perspective of the earth’s (c)arbon level, what the great pause is showing us is how massively radical, and for many almost un-imaginable, the changes need to be to respond meaningfully to the climate and ecological emergency.
IMPACT ON EARTH’S CARBON LEVEL – This 2 billion tonnes of carbon reduction is massive…but
Let’s look at some carbon numbers briefly, to explain this. What will this massive shut down mean for earth’s carbon levels this year? Carbon Brief have done an analysis on some of the data. They point to around 2000 million tonnes of CO2 emissions being cut in 2020 as a result of the great pause. This 2 billion tonnes of carbon reduction is massive. The largest ever annual fall in CO2 emissions since earths CO2 ppm started to climb as the industrial revolution and industrial growth culture spread throughout the world. Yes, it’s what we need right now. It’s what many many people and organisations have been trying and failing to achieve for decades.
But wait, 2 billions tonnes of CO2 reduction in 2020, is little more than a 5% drop in 2019 levels. It’s a bigger drop than any previous crisis or war…but still this is less than we need to bring the 1.5C global temperature limit within reach. Remember, 1.5C temperature rise is seen as the threshold into a world of the most dangerous climate, tipping points and the slippery slope to a decent into climate chaos. According to Carbon Brief, to have a chance of limiting global warming to under 1.5C (over pre-industrial temperatures) carbon emissions would need to fall by over 7% (2800 million tonnes of CO2 in 2020) and then by the same 7% every year for this decade. So a 5% drop in 2020 is firstly not enough and secondly needs to be maintained.
NORMAL IS NOT WORKING – So we cannot go back to the old normal. We have to imagine and then create a new way.
As we live through the biggest pause in the industrial growth culture, economies shut down across the world, it’s extremely surprising that we are only expecting to see a 5% of a drop in CO2 emissions this year. Even with the global economy curtailed we are still expecting 95% of carbon emissions to continue compared with last year! This is because many of our complex carbon churning systems have not switched off. Travel and transport may be at standstill or curtailed beyond recognition but there a massive structural changes needed in carbon burn. For example, electric and heating might account for some 40% of global emissions. These activities, and many others have not changed much during this great pause.
So this leaves me thinking that the changes we need to make to get to the much bandied around net zero carbon emissions by tomorrow, by 2030 or in the dim and distant year 2050, are almost beyond our imagination. To achieve net zero carbon, the work of C-Level in connecting people to rapidly scaling natural climate solutions that can draw carbon down to earth and hold it in ecosystems will need to expand beyond recognition (which was beginning to happen). We will need to do this with all our clients and all our delivery partners, in the communities and the indigenous forests around the world. But we we also need to make the big structural changes to our hyper complex systems, to reduce so much carbon, so fast.
LIGHTEN AND TURN TOGETHER – As far as we can let’s walk over with as little baggage as we can and turn together to regenerate nature and business.
And one things FEELS CLEAR. We cannot contemplate dragging our hyper active busyness from the old normal over the threshold of this northern Covid Spring into the coming season. As far as we can let’s walk over with as little baggage as we can and turn together to regenerate nature and business.
As hard as it is to imagine truly rising to meet the climate emergency, imagination is what we need right now. We are seeing what we can do together to help each other in crisis. We need to imagine dropping business as usual, dropping the old normal, and standing at this liminal historic moment ready to let go. Where we go is about imagination and then creation. Creating the space for letting go of the old ways, firing up imagination and getting creative are some of the seeds we are sowing with clients behind the scenes on our new Wild Aligned programme.