Individual actions can appear futile and/or inadequate. While waiting for official/systemic change, there are actions that can be taken as extended families (extending across generations and the globe) that could make a real difference. Many components of a low carbon economy (eg active travel, fresh vegetables, local living) are desirable in any event, and there might be little point in worrying about whether or not these practices help to cause or are a result of the necessary societal/economic change.
Families are existing affinity groups with shared ambitions, mutual care and affection, and through "family emergency declarations" will be able to encourage each other and minimise the anxieties that could emerge during the just transition to a low carbon economy.
Made by all those prepared to contribute to the just transition.
- be informed, truthful and transparent about the state of the climate and nature and our individual and collective responsibilities to achieve climate justice,
- commit to the taking of effective actions in order to reduce collective carbon emissions to zero by 2030, with the most substantial
reductions by 2025, and to enhance biodiversity,
- to campaign, lobby and rebel to reduce systemic emissions and enhance biodiversity,
- to encourage and care for those participating in the transition.
Even, if only as experiments, family declarations could prove to be powerful means to the achievement of significant reductions of carbon emissions in the transition to net zero economies by2030, with most reductions by 2025, and to protect and enhance biodiversity. Many changes are good in themselves. Climate justice requires that the higher emitters make the largest and earliest reductions to leave space for both younger generations and the 'least developed countries' to flourish.
+ Why family?
Developing and relying on the family as an affinity group with a shared ambition to reduce carbon emissions, assumes an existing level of mutual care and affection together with obligations and accountability. Many important actions will involve changes to household behaviour (including travel/holidays), that will also represent families and/or close friends. Much of the 'sharing economy' operates within households.
With few exceptions, families include members from different generations so that declarations imply a level of commitment to climate justice for both young and old. Families are special in these respects, but not necessarily unique, and the same principles could apply to other groups, such as friendship groups or colleagues.
Even if only two members are prepared to 'declare' they should do so in the hope and expectation that others will follow.
+ What is a family assembly?
All available members of the family meet up and can assume responsibility for different aspects of the carbon transition. It is helpful if the initial framing of the pledge to reduce emissions is shared in order to deepen the 'ownership' of the project among those who will be involved.
The assembly also provides the initial incentive to become more informed. The topics to be discussed are included under Tools.
Facetime, Skype or Zoom can be used to include family members unable to attend in person.
+ Why 2030?
The emergency situation in respect of both climate change and the evidence of mass extinctions suggests that all responsible people should adopt the precautionary principle. Whilst the IPCC suggests that the 1.5° C limit could be achieved by a transition to net zero by 2050, this does not give 100% chance of success.
There does not appear to be any good reason not to adopt behaviours that would achieve very significant reductions within the next few years, after which some greater efforts will be required to reach net zero by the end of the decade.
+ What is left?
Clearly, there are substantial carbon emissions for which we as individuals or families are not directly responsible, such as those from the National Health Service, schools, public transport and the police. There are also substantial emissions generated by other less essential government activities such as roadbuilding and the military. In all these cases the declaration of a family emergency implies that members will lobby (or rebel) to have all of those systemic emissions reduced to close to zero. Families might agree that members should take an 'action' at least every month and could consider a reward system for doing so (eg in the form of carbon credits).
See the How to page.