The Climate Positive Movement
Steering clear of climate chaos
Spearheading the change towards a zero-emissions society
We are a movement of people who have understood the gravity of the situation that humanity faces in
our days: atmospheric carbon is well above safe levels, still climbing higher and no global agreement
to even halt this trend, let alone reverse it is in sight. Governments are in the firm grip of vested
interests of the status quo, which is an economy based on fossil fuels. This will not change by itself
until it is too late to reverse the disastrous effects of climate change. We citizens need to take the lead
now. This movement does exactly that: leading the way so we can avoid irreversible damage to our
In our movement we have one simple common denominator: all of us are what we call “climate
positive”. We have taken a pledge to stop putting more greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the
atmosphere and reverse this trend instead. All of us maintain a positive greenhouse gas balance,
meaning that in sum, we get more greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere than we put in. Since
safe CO2 levels are believed to be around 350 ppm and we have already overshot that, we need to
become climate positive. Even more conservative (and less cautious) estimates indicate that we need
to decarbonize almost completely until 2050, that is 40 years from now and still in the lifetimes of
many of us. To get there with society as a whole in that timeframe, we have to start the journey now
Our movement works in three main directions: lifestyle change, financing the shift to sustainable
societies in the south and political advocacy work. Let's look at them in detail.
1. The most immediate way to bring down GHG levels is to stop putting so much up there in the
first place. Eating less meat and more vegetables, driving less cars and riding more bikes or
walking, flying less and going on vacation closer to home or using bus or train, choosing eco-
friendly and local products, repairing, sharing, recycling, insulating houses, switching to green
electricity etc. This is called lisfestyle change. Each of us has a personal (or family)
carbon/GHG account that keeps track of the emissions we are still producing. In local groups
we share our solutions and experiences and sometimes buy things together in bigger
quantities to get them cheaper and push producers towards more climate friendly practices.
2. What is left of our GHG emissions gets compensated – overcompensated that is. Because we
want to have a positive, not just a neutral impact on the climate, for every ton of CO2
equivalent that we emit, we “produce” two tons of CO2 reductions. Usually one ton is reduced
by retiring carbon credits from a cap-and-trade system in the industrialized world, reducing the
amount of emissions under that system, and one ton is reduced in sustainable development
projects in the global South. These can be so called REDD projects that conserve forests and
have additional benefits in terms of biodiversity, livelihoods and good governance or other
projects that help the country leapfrog into the solar age.
3. We are not doing this just for fun, we are doing this to lead the way to a place where our
whole society needs to get: zero emissions and a sustainable society with a stable climate. In
order for society as a whole to follow our lead, we need to be pulling and pushing at many
ends. Influencing both the corporate world and the political landscape are explicit goals of our
movement. Companies are encouraged to join our movement and produce goods and services
in a climate positive way. And laws and policies shall be put in place that make it easier for the
rest of the people to follow our example. Our local and regional meetings also serve this
purpose: to coordinate our political work.
Ok, that's the plan. Now how to get there. There are a few things to be worked out, before this
movement can be launched. For the launch, the climate action week in October 2010 would be a good
occasion. Open questions – ordered by section - that should be addressed before the launch are the
1. We need the “information infrastructure” to support this, i.e. a good website where people can
manage their carbon accounts on the one hand and on the other hand we need a wiki that
gives carbon footprints for all those products where this data is already available, and can be
extended every time better data is available for some product. This is no minor thing. The site
should be well done and should become the standard reference for the carbon footprints of
products for everyone, not just the people in the movement. There are a couple of carbon
footprint calculators out there for a first approximation, but in order to make this serious and a
good reflection of reality, we need the best available methods/science and integrate that into
our site. Some research is needed here. I am working on that at the moment.
2. The best compensation scheme at the moment seems to be the German Atmosfair. Most of the
projects are renewable energy projects. An open question is whether the systemic impact of
these projects is actually a reduction in overall emissions. When fossil equipment is replaced
with renewables then two things happen: 1) Demand for fossil fuels lessens. As a
consequence, fuel prices go down and fuel becomes more accessible for different uses which
drives fuel consumption up again. 2) Income that was spent on the fuels becomes available for
other things, possibly consumption of goods which in turn cause emissions from their
production. Both are processes that theoretically should happen, but I don't know whether
they actually do and to what extent. More data on this is needed, in order to decide whether
this kind of project qualifies for a serious compensation scheme. If it does not, we may be
forced to create a new standard which takes into account systemic effects, in order to reach
our goal of effective reductions in the South. Maybe we even have to take supply-side
measures, such as supporting Yasuni National Park to keep the oil in the ground. Another
option could be REDD projects in very deforestation-prone areas where we can be sure that
without the project, the forest would be gone, or reforestation projects that create livelihoods
without displacing farmers or other uses. I am investigating into this, but need all the help and
technical knowledge I can get.
For the industrialized world part, there is Sandbag. But there it is also not clear whether this
approach works, since both Kyoto and the European ETS have too many credits and you can't
be sure that buying them up actually reduces anything. I will research into other systems
where this is assured.
3. For the advocacy part, I would suggest to build on existing efforts such as 350, the Climate
Justice Now! Campaign and local groups that resist coal-fired power plants, new airports etc.
In the beginning there will surely be much continuity with all these initiatives that already
exist, but in the long run I believe that this movement will empower people and emerge as a
new major player with its own coordination structure and campaigning strategies. What needs
to be done for the moment is to get in touch with the different organizations and groups in
order to see who wants to join forces and contribute work or resources in the build-up phase.
So that's a rough picture of the work to be done. If we were to do it in a quick and dirty way, we
would simply draw together one of the existing footprint calculators, Atmosfair and Sandbag for
compensations and 350.org for doing campaigning. But the idea is to create a new standard and bring
together many of the real pioneers and create something new that gives direction to our societies.
Therefore I would like to use the next months to gather feedback on this first outline, find partners,
slowly shape it and launch it once it has been fleshed out and is supported by the key players.
More information: http://kjells.wiki-site.com/index.php/Climate_Positive_Movement or email@example.com