Global sustainability will only happen if the mainstream of the population live lives that are sustainable. That might seem like a trivial statement. But it has some fundamental questions underneath it. How and when will the mainstream accelerate the necessary shift from an unsustainable trajectory to a sustainable one?
The transition has started, but is not happening fast enough, as highlighted by Lord Stern in many talks and publications in the last few years, on the issue of Climate Change alone.
And yet it goes much further than Climate Change. It is an issue of water, food, land use, consumerism. All these aspects require major shifts globally to achieve a just and sustainable future for all global citizens.
The mainstream is the place where this shift will really happen.
And if the mainstream doesn't "move" in the sense of changing its ways of living, travelling, earning, using energy, consuming, recycling, then the mainstream might have to "move" in a different sense - to physically move to find different places to sustain itself as increasingly dramatic deterioration happens in the places they currently live - resulting in mass migration on an unprecedented scale.
I wasn't able to attend this talk in person in Oxford earlier this month, but I caught the tail-end via the livestream video, and watched the whole of it later (link here). Lord Stern is optimistic, and points out that this is a topic where there is massive potential for cross-party support. He paints a picture of short-term investment in sustainable infrastructure to provide economic growth while moving to a net zero carbon economy in the next 40 - 50 years, supported by the Sustainable Development Goals. Urgency and scale of the transition were key emphases in his talk. We're moving much too slowly on this, and we need to speed up.
Amory Lovins gave an excellent talk about disruptive energy technologies at the Oxford Martin School earlier this week. I wasn't able to make it in person, but the talk, and the Q and A that followed it, can be seen here. After watching it, I'm more than ever convinced that we're witnessing a historic paradigm shift in the ways we produce, distribute and use energy, a shift away from carbon-emitting energy and towards a low-carbon energy future. Anyone who doesn't engage positively with this change will be swept away by it.
This diagram is part of the reason I'm happy to use an Electric Vehicle in the UK - The mix of energy generation which provides the electricity I charge it with is moving rapidly from fossil fuels to renewables, from high carbon emmitting sources to low or zero emitting sources. Also, I have solar panels on my house, so some of the time I'm using locally generated electricity to charge the car rather than drawing it from the grid.
The Planetary CFO - working towards a sustainable World Balance Sheet.