For climate action it’s been the best of years and the worst of years.

The best because of the mass mobilisation around the world triggered by Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion.

The worst because emissions have kept stubbornly rising and countries including the UK are falling behind on their Paris Accord commitments. 2019 ended badly with failure of certain countries to step up to the mark at the COP 25 UN talks.

Stall and fall

The next year is critical. By the time the COP 26 UN talks in Glasgow come around in November we must have exerted significant pressure to make emissions stall and start to fall as soon as possible.

Every pressure group is now chipping in with its own ideas about what to do. Here’s ours:

Advocate and educate

At the new One Planet Centre CIC we are using our expertise to advocate and educate. One of our suggestions is to demand new legislation – a One Planet Act – because people only change their bad old ways if they have to.

Enact an Act

This One Planet Act should adopt the principal of contraction and convergence: by law, every year, the ecological footprint of the country must be reduced – until after, say, 20 years, it is down to one planet.

The ecological footprint of the UK is currently around three planets – that’s what we’d need if everyone in the world were to live like us. This is both unfair and unsustainable.

Repay the lost costs

The world is facing this crisis mainly because up ’til now the awful external climate and extinction costs to the planet and to society of doing business have not been factored into balance sheets by either businesses or governments.

We’ve taken everything the planet can give us – from the ground, sea and air – as being “free”.

It isn’t. It’s there for a reason.

As anyone with a bank account knows, you can’t keep drawing from it forever; there comes a time when you have to pay it back or your house is taken away from you.

Shaft the overdraft

We’re well into overdraft, the planet is our house, and we don’t have another one.

Wales’ revolutionary Well-being of Future Generations Act goes some of the way to persuading public bodies funded by our taxes, acting in our names, that they should behave within planetary boundaries – to safeguard the future.

One of the indicators of the Act is the ecological footprint of Wales.

But the Act lacks teeth – or claws.

Pass a law with claws

That’s why a new One Planet Act needs to copy the approach of the UK’s equally revolutionary Climate Change Act, with its regular carbon budgets.

Under the new One Planet Act an independent commissioner would be set up to produce periodical ecological budgets.

Increase supply, decrease demand

This would force public bodies to increase the amount of nature and decrease our demands on nature for supplying us with the resources we use and absorbing our pollution.

This would guide the country to move towards a closed loop, zero waste, zero carbon, equitable society, while at the same time creating new skills, jobs and improving health.

A Government-set target to get to one planet over 20 years would give us four times longer than is required from those gaining planning permission for a One Planet Development in Wales – as measured by the government-sponsored ecological footprint calculator!

Apply the science

This, scientifically speaking, is the only way that we will have a chance of earning off the ecological overdraft.

It’s the only way our grandchildren might inherit a world at least as healthy as ours – preferably more so.

Walk the talk

What you can do:

1. Lobby your political representatives and ask them to sponsor a One Planet Bill that would lead to such an Act.

2. Support us. We’re in the process of setting up a bank account, and then we will be able to accept donations and membership fees.

Embrace hope, sign up and join us.

Let’s make 2020 the year of the greatest climate action ever!

David Thorpe
Author of The One Planet Life, and One Planet Cities, co-founder and patron of The One Planet Council, director of The One Planet Centre.