Search Results

You are looking at 1 - 10 of 19 items for

  • Author or Editor: Richard Joy x
Clear All Modify Search
The Urgent Need to Transform Society and Reverse Climate Change
Author:

This book is an urgent call to reimagine our social, political and economic systems so that we might transform to a sustainable society.

It considers whether an alternative economic model is possible and examines the factors needed to enable such a transition to occur. The scale and pace of change is unprecedented and the author examines the actions that have to be taken by governments, business and individuals if we are to address the environmental disaster that confronts us. Much needs to change but ultimately, this is a book of hope, believing that evolution to a better, more sustainable society is possible.

Restricted access
Author:

This chapter looks at the competence of governments to respond to the COVID-19 crisis and considers the lessons we need to learn if we are to meet the challenge of climate change. It also looks at how societies have responded to new social norms and considers whether COVID-19 will be the trigger for a transition to a sustainable society.

The optimistic conclusion is that the COVID-19 crisis will result in a radical re-evaluation of our social and economic priorities, leading to changes that will enable an effective response to global warming. The pessimistic conclusion is that we will learn little and society will revert to business as usual with a desperate race to restart the global economy and return to the old normal.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that many of those in the reasonably well off middle classes have enjoyed the changes to their normal, pressurized lifestyle. The stresses of commuting and long hours in the office have been replaced by time at home and new ways of working. Some people will even offer a guilty admission that they have enjoyed lockdown. For others in society, it has highlighted their vulnerability. Many of those in insecure, low-paid jobs have been tipped into poverty within a matter of weeks, their problems exacerbated by poor housing and difficult conditions within their communities.

The fact that COVID-19 has had such different effects across society is relevant to the discussion on the process of social change because we need to understand how an event such as a pandemic or global warming, is perceived by different groups.

Restricted access
Author:

This chapter considers how we perceive our situation and our ability to ignore problems that are about to overwhelm us. This affects the way that we respond to potential threats and our ability to reassure ourselves that we are taking appropriate action. It looks at the need to acknowledge the threats facing humanity, the need for a collective epiphany and considers whether humanity has the capacity for collective action or whether we will become increasingly isolationist.

It is amazing that the human race has survived for so long. It is even more amazing that the first humans ever managed to survive their emergence in the vast bushlands of East Africa; they didn’t have the strength to fight off large predators; they couldn’t run very fast; they didn’t even breed very fast. Perhaps, part of the explanation lies in the human ability to assess a situation and develop an appropriate response. Our early survival decisions were fight or flight decisions. These days the decisions are more complex. The threats we face are of a bigger magnitude than a marauding lion.

The task of determining an appropriate survival response is ever more difficult. Whether we have the ability to take effective action against the multitude of threats that currently face humanity remains to be seen. Presumably, there will come some point when we no longer have the capacity to assimilate all the relevant information and implement an effective response. Maybe we have reached a point where the scale of the threat will overwhelm us.

Restricted access
Author:

This chapter considers the factors that enable change to happen and examines where the pressure for the transition to a sustainable society is likely to come from. It looks at the capabilities that will be required to manage radical change successfully and offers a method of categorizing three essential capabilities. The chapter concludes with the proposition that ultimately, the process of social transition requires a shift in attitudes and beliefs at an emotional level not simply an acceptance of scientific evidence and data.

The size of the task that lies ahead, coupled with the limited time to achieve the changes will require exceptional political, corporate and civic leadership. The scale of change will be unprecedented in peacetime, although historically we know that countries can achieve rapid social and economic change during times of war. Anyone with experience of corporate change will know the difficulties of adopting new technologies, implementing new corporate structures and embedding a new organizational culture. Added to this are all the issues associated with programme governance, budgets and corporate politicking. Corporate change is difficult, but managing global economic, political and social transformation is on an entirely different scale.

In the build-up to the year 2000 (Y2K) there were concerns that the millennium bug would affect computer systems, leading to lurid predictions that business systems would crash, cars would suddenly stop and aircraft would fall from the sky. To avert these potential doomsday scenarios, many organizations replaced their IT systems and used the opportunity to restructure and streamline their operations.

Restricted access
Author:

This chapter considers the actions that need to be taken by governments to influence market forces and the areas where policy reform is required. It identifies key areas of policymaking and looks at the need for political accountability and transparency.

Action to reverse climate change will require extraordinary leadership by the major emitters of greenhouse gases, particularly China, India and the US, and all nations will need to find a common purpose rather than pursue individual strategies. Achieving consensus across the international community has been difficult so far and further progress will require the UN to have greater authority. In particular, the 2015 Paris Agreement needs to be overhauled so that targets are mandatory, not voluntary, and the aggregated plans of all nations need to be adjusted so that the remaining carbon budget is not exceeded. The limits on total emissions must be set at a level that is consistent with a maximum rise in global temperatures of 1.5°C. National monitoring and reporting will need to be strengthened. The current situation of voluntary targets, poor monitoring, false reporting and negligible consequences for countries that breach their self-determined targets is woefully inadequate and we are deluding ourselves if we believe such ineffective measures will avert climate catastrophe.

Converting new commitments into hard action will require the authority of the UN to be strengthened and international agreements to be underpinned by a number of core principles.

Restricted access
Author:

This chapter considers whether the established political parties have the appropriate ideological perspective to drive the transition to a sustainable society. Ultimately, it may require a new political movement to disrupt the alliances between political parties and vested interests. If the current political system fails to reverse global warming, then the stability of our democratic systems is likely to be disrupted by the economic upheavals that will result from climate change. Extremist parties will be able to exploit unemployment, hardship and a growing social divide. International collaboration may be replaced by isolationist policies and nationalistic sentiments. Simplistic solutions by authoritarian leaders will gain popularity as the failings of the traditional political parties are exposed.

The last few years have seen a number of national governments implement environmentally responsible policies. In particular, many European countries are investing heavily in renewable energy and there are policies to phase out the production of petrol/diesel vehicles. There have been many positive changes, and these should be acknowledged, but in spite of this, the pace of change is not sufficient. Carbon emissions continue to rise and it seems unlikely that global temperatures will be kept below 1.5°C. Latest projections indicate that the carbon budget associated with the 1.5°C threshold will be breached by 2028.

The current political system is failing to deliver the scale of change required and it seems that the pace of change is determined by economic considerations rather than environmental considerations.

Restricted access
Author:

This chapter considers whether civilization is likely to make the transition to a sustainable society before it is too late. The scientific indicators show that things continue to move in the wrong direction, and we can observe for ourselves the growing catalogue of natural disasters, species extinctions and ever-greater destruction of the natural environment. The actions of governments need to be judged not on whether they are doing some good things but whether they will achieve the necessary outcomes in the required time-frame.

There was a time, not long ago, when there was only scant coverage of environmental issues on television or radio, but these days it is covered daily in news bulletins, documentaries and dedicated programmes. This increased focus on climate change and our impact on the natural world is raising awareness of the threats we face. There is growing public concern, and political parties place the green agenda at the forefront of their policies. Many corporate leaders have sensed the changing social mood and increasingly understand the scale of the threat presented by climate change. There are outstanding individuals who are championing environmental innovation and leading changes within their organizations. Corporate strategies are responding to shifts in consumer expectations and anticipating the implications of new environmental regulations. We are seeing significant investment in sustainable technologies that offer the hope of a more sustainable society.

There are many positive signs and this news should be celebrated, but we should not relax with a sense of relief that everything will be all right.

Restricted access