Why the next 12 years could be the making of us

A better future starts with imaging one.

landscape photography of body of water near mountain

After two extraordinary weeks in which Extinction Rebellion brought London to a standstill, kids walked out of school to join the School Strike for Climate, Greta Thunberg dropped in to meet MPs and others, and David Attenborough’s ‘Climate Change: The Facts’ documentary went out on primetime TV, the UK parliament declared, the day before I’m writing this, a national climate emergency. As someone who has spent the last 15 years of my life ceaselessly speaking, blogging, campaigning and writing about climate change, and catalysing and supporting many projects and communities who are modelling innovative responses to it, I feel thrilled and delighted. But now what happens?

The point I want to make in this short piece is that the concept of a climate emergency should fill our hearts with great optimism and possibility. We have 11 years now to reverse the direction of travel, to cut our emissions in half, and be well on the path to zero emissions.  It is an extraordinarily big ask, but it is possible. Just. And if we manage it, it will be a social, cultural, economic, political transformation which is almost without precedent. It will, by definition, be a time when anything felt possible, when the imagination feels invited, valued and empowered. What an amazing time to be 18. It will be a time that future generations will sing great songs about, and tell great tales about. Hold onto your seats for the most exhilarating time when old certainties fade away, and when anything feels possible.

I feel certain that what will get us there will be our ability, in our families, in our workplaces, in the groups we’re part of, to be the storytellers of what that world, a world of zero emissions, will look like, feel like, taste like, sound like. We need to tell the stories that create a deep longing for a future that looks very different to the present. A future of cleaner air, children playing in the street, cities with food growing everywhere, louder birdsong, thriving local economies, an age of connection, conversation and community, schools and hospitals fed by local food, a sense of collective purpose. A future of renewable energy, rewilded landscapes, imaginative and playful architecture. It’s going to be amazing. As Elliot Murphy wrote in his sleeve notes for ‘Velvet Underground Live 1969’, “I wish it was a hundred years from today (I can’t stand the suspense)”.

The beautiful thing about the government and local authorities declaring a climate emergency is that very few of them have much of an idea as to what that means.  The part of the UK covered by Reconnect has been at the forefront of modelling and experimenting as to what the creativity a climate emergency makes possible. MORE