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Other worlds are possible. Human progress in an age of climate change

This sixth report from the Working Group on Climate Change and Development argues that our chances of triumphing over climate change will rise dramatically if we recognise that there we need not one but many models of human development.

November 2009

To download : PDF (2.3 MiB)

Summary :

This report argues that our chances of triumphing over climate change will rise dramatically if we change the context within which we ‘fight its fire’. More than that, it suggests that we are already surrounded by a sleeping architecture of better ways to organise our economies, communities and livelihoods. We have, in fact, much more choice about our collective economic future than we have been led to believe. The challenge, it seems, is now clear, and many of the solutions known. The task is to act.

In October 2004, Up in smoke? the first report from the UK Working Group on Climate Change and Development, warned that climate change threatened a great reversal of human progress. It created a united call for action from environment and development groups and identified three overarching challenges:

How to stop and reverse further climate change.

How to live with the degree of climate change that cannot be stopped.

How to design a new model for human progress and development that is climate proof and climate friendly and gives everyone a fair share of the natural resources on which we all depend.

Whilst great flurries of activity now surround the first and, to a lesser degree, the second of these questions, it is the third which remains neglected. If anything, as the world struggles to recover from a major economic recession, the opposite is happening. From the banking sector to high street consumerism in rich countries, there appears to be a rush to return to business as usual. It as is if policy-makers and commentators find it impossible to imagine a world fundamentally different, and better, than the one we already have. Yet the danger is that, without deeply rethinking our economic system to deliver good lives which do not cost the Earth, we will end up with a world much worse than the one we have.