A Principle-Guided Policy Framework
1] Climate change policies and actions should be solution-oriented; they should emphasize viable, positive alternatives and not dwell on fears or political posturing. Humanity should appreciate that implementing these solutions will bring opportunities for a better life.
2] Proposed solutions should emphasize dealing with the root causes of climate change, and make use of the opportunity to build a proper balance between human activity and the ecological integrity of the natural world.
3] Recognizing that global climate change is interconnected with other important global problems, climate change solutions should be preferred which simultaneously help resolve other major crises facing humanity.
4] Approaches to mitigating climate change should be taken that foster global equity and that provide positive opportunities for underdeveloped regions and peoples to gain increased cultural and economic self-determination.
5] The value of social or technical approaches to reducing greenhouse gas emissions must be holistically evaluated; with respect to energy conserving technologies, there must be whole cost accounting of the embodied energy in a product’s entire life cycle.
6] A balanced policy framework should be formulated that emphasizes both local empowerment and global cooperation; local communities and cultures have scope to express grass-roots wisdom and initiatives, and global councils must establish common expectations.
7] The politics of special interests and polarizing rhetoric should be brought under control so that humanity can face the threats of global climate change with maximum unity. This requires a strengthening of morality and of citizen participation in the political arena.
1] Individuals should be encouraged to pursue a spiritual life that provides them with meaning and security beyond that of excessive material consumption. Should efforts to abate global climate change require constraints on consumption, spiritual purpose can fill the void left by insatiable material cravings.
2] Global climate change speaks to the need for humanity to adopt a new values base, one that expands humanistic concerns to embrace the welfare of the natural world. Such a value base would be grounded in the proto-spiritual and non-sectarian realization that all life is interconnected in a wholeness of being.
3] Engagement in the global climate change issue by religious and spiritual leaders, institutions, and movements must deepen. They should both bring forward the moral and spiritual dimensions of the climate change challenge and also intensify efforts to give humanity a deepened inner connection with the Divine and to recognize the sacred in all life.
Strengthened Global Authority
1] A global commission on climate change should be formed to frame policy and to establish compliance mechanisms. This commission would have three compartments: (1) representatives of nations; (2) an advisory body of eminent climate scientists; and (3) a council of eminent moral and spiritual leaders — this last body serving as a powerful voice to speak — without political compromise — for the welfare of the earth and its peoples.
2] The global commission on climate change should be invested with sufficient authority to recommend stiff sanctions on nations or on transnational corporations that fail to comply with globally enacted climate change mitigation policies and practices. Sanctioning power should include the capacity to declare trade boycotts — with nations or corporations — and punitive tariffs on internationally purchased fossil fuels.
3] The global commission should also have capacity to help direct international funding assistance to developing countries for the purpose of capitalizing technology changes and infrastructure development that serves to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
4] The global commission must be impeccably insulated from the compromising influence of transnational corporations, or of bodies that serve their interests. The commission’s council of moral leaders must be the guarantor of the global commission’s uncorrupted integrity.
1] The global commission on climate change should have authority to monitor the policy-making processes of national governments to certify that a strong protective firewall exists between corporate influence and governmental climate change deliberations. Nations that do not maintain such protections from corporate influence would have reduced status within the decision-making processes of the global climate change commission.
2] Large corporations with significant investment in fossil fuel production or technologies, or in technologies dependent on fossil fuels, should operate under a charter issued by an appropriate governmental body that would set out strict operating guidelines for reducing greenhouse gas emissions that these corporations must observe. Their operations should also come under the oversight of either a governmental or autonomous body, which would include an appointee of the global commission on climate change or comparable national agencies. Among other objectives, the oversight bodies should guide the transition of the concerned corporations toward economic activities that minimize fossil fuel production or fossil fuel use. They should also see that they operate on a no profit-no loss basis.
3] Where there is genuine need, corporations whose operations significantly contribute to greenhouse gases should be given access to low interest financing, and to technological innovations, to help them produce or make use of zero-carbon technologies. This financing could come from a global fund, overseen by an appropriate global body. This fund would be endowed by appropriate taxes or tariffs on hydrocarbon fuel production or consumption. This policy should not be applied in a manner that gives special advantage to hydrocarbon fuel related corporations over corporations already dedicated to carbon neutral energy technologies.
4] The global commission on climate change should establish strong regulatory policy guidelines for the purpose of controlling the operations of large corporations with respect to practices that impact climate change. These policy guidelines would then go to the nation-states to frame appropriate statutes and form appropriate regulatory bodies with which to implement the globally recommended policies.
1] Among the various approaches to decentralized economic development, the PROUT decentralized planning model offers the most comprehensive and balanced approach. Nations and communities in general, and those suffering from dependency in particular, should study and implement the PROUT planning methodology for achieving balanced economic decentralization.
2] Institutions and schemes for providing sources of capital for local production and enterprise should be developed and should receive privileged status and assistance to assure their stability and their preferential use by the local community. Special importance should be given to allocating investment capital for developing self-reliant, carbon neutral regional energy systems.
3] Strong national or regional policies should be put in place to develop and promote local sources of renewable energy. Each regional economy should, so much as may be feasible, become energy independent, with fossil fuel energy sources being used only during a phased transition to renewable energy sources.
1] In appropriate settings within both developing and developed countries, there should be aggressive popularization of energy efficient appropriate and intermediate technologies. There should also be a balanced allocation of R&D funding for appropriate and intermediate technologies and public support and venture capital for small-scale enterprises producing these technologies. Where possible, designs for such technologies should come within the public domain so they can be freely produced.
2] Governmental bodies should be established that assess the energy efficiency of, and of the greenhouse gases produced by common and large-scale technologies and energy consuming appliances and devices. This assessment should provide a holistic, life cycle assessment of the greenhouse gases created in the production, use and disposal of such products. Appropriate incentives and disincentives should be arranged to encourage maximally efficient utilization of energy in all technological artifacts.
3] While nuclear power does not directly produce greenhouse gases, it is not a suitable energy source to promote for several reasons: (1) The huge governmental subsidies awarded to the nuclear power industry deprive funding for the development of more desirable carbon neutral energy technologies. (2) The construction of nuclear power plants involves materials having huge amounts of embodied energy, which is often generated by greenhouse gas producing fossil fuels. (3) There are huge externalized costs, and deferred costs, involved in nuclear power, and these costs result in a waste of social resources that could be better directed toward more desirable ends, such as funding the development of efficient clean energy technologies. (4) There is not at present a permanently secure method for storing nuclear wastes.
4] There should be systemic overhaul of transportation systems with the intention of massively reducing transport-generated greenhouse gases. This can be accomplished through a combination of approaches such as: using new carbon neutral fuel sources, planning urban areas to make for efficient public transport, designing vehicles that have far greater fuel efficiency, developing and promoting mass transit and rapid rail travel, creating greater opportunities for home work and local cottage industries, promoting human-powered and human-assisted transportation, and taking measure of the embodied energy in all transportation system choices.
Lifestyle Change and Population Stabilization
1] There should be concerted implementation of the factors which are known to quickly bring population growth into balance. Important among these are: (1) the empowerment of, and opeing opportunities for, women in all aspects of social and economic life, and (2) the guarantee of the basic necessities of life to all.
2] There should be limits placed on the accumulation of wealth so there can be control over gross over-consumption by wealthy elites. Placing limits on wealth accumulation will help reduce the carbon footprint of economically privileged individuals, whose lifestyle’s impact on the climate, and on the planet, vastly exceeds that of people of lesser means.
3] Patterns of consumption by common people should be adjusted so as to prefer local products over imported products, useful products over superfluous products, energy efficient products over energy wasteful products, and green certified products over non-certified products.
4] So much as may be appropriate, consumer products should be rated in a way that allows consumers to make educated purchase decisions based on a product’s comparative contribution of greenhouse gases that occurs in their manufacture and use. Should consumer education fail to effect conscious purchasing behaviors, then regulatory controls on production and on product performance should be strengthened.
5] Special attention needs to be given to reducing the waste of energy and resources that occurs in the extraction, manufacture and distribution of consumer goods. Studies of the total waste in the lifecycle of consumer products indicate that 97.5 percent of waste occurs prior to product use and disposal. Skilled application of the PROUT principle of maximum utilization of all physical resources could have particular value for reconfiguring product production and transport toward efficient energy and materials use.
6] There should be a significant reduction in ruminant meat consumption. Ruminant animals are responsible for about one-quarter of the human-related methane greenhouse gas creation in cultures where the eating of beef and veal is prevalent. Such a dietary shift would have other important health and environmental benefits as well. In the husbandry of dairy cows and wool producing sheep, there should be use of low methane producing feed and the proper handling of animal feces so as to reduce methane release.