Leadership for Mitigating and Adapting to Climate Change

climate change

I would regard anyone as my leader a) whom I have met personally, b) with whom I work or interact directly face to face on a more or less daily basis c) has proved themselves friendly, kind, sympathetic, compassionate and giving. I only trust someone who demonstrates behaviour in accordance with the positive human virtues and eschews negative actions. They could be neighbours, but if not, their house should be within walking distance from mine. Who is not my leader? Anyone whom I have not met, whom I don’t work with or interact with on a daily basis. I would especially like women leaders.

Given my definition of who my leader is, I neither have a community nor a leader. My definition of leader implies community. There is a group who agrees that that person is their leader. It is essentially a tribal definition. Until the world has eliminated fossil fuels and nuclear energy and other forms of polluting energy by 2060 there will be a chaos of leadership in this world. Even thereafter we will only have the kind of leaders we want and pray for if we assert the rights of community over the land, with clear boundaries and decision making powers over the designated territory and humane rules about who is a foreigner and who is a resident.

All countries are gradually committing to net zero emissions of GHGs by 2050, China has set the goal of net zero GHGs by 2060. Europe is committed to reducing 60% against 1990 levels by 2030. The USA under the Democrats will commit to net zero GHGs by 2050. India may be at net zero GGHs by 2050 or 2060.

We are in an era in which leaders are having to relinquish their attachment to capital and nation states and to global trade in favour of the community. They must figure out how to reorganise humanity on the basis of community but this is not possible in the era of nation states. Thus what to do about the nation state in the era of mitigating and adapting to climate change is a huge unresolved issue. Nation states cannot subsist without fossil fuels to power their trade relations and their domestic trade. Their understanding of their political power is linked to their right as the owner of a sovereign currency. Obviously thus this question of what role if any for the nation state is a massive challenge for multi-party constitutional democracies as also for one-party democracies, all with various cut off ages and various other criteria for suffrage.

The present forms of various kinds of constitutional government have only been around for between around 50 to 300 years and all of them seem to be replacing various forms of social democratic worker oriented parties with various forms of fascist ones. Fascism is any kind of rule by capital through an oligarchic political class, and a voting public manipulated by media controlled by capital and by that oligarchic capitalist political class. At the moment fascism is holding the fort for capital in most nation states. But what next? How will community leadership replace fascism?

The COVID-19 pandemic is giving the public an opportunity to have a trial run of what to do when world ideas are implemented at the national and sub-national level without suitable leadership. I have no answers. But I know that as long as we are attached to ideas rather than to what our bodies tell us is the right thing to do, we will be victims of mirages and myths, not least the myths of capital and nation. Will each community territory after 2050 have enough food forests to offset whatever level of coal and biomass use they decide on? Will they reforest on the basis of community forestry rather than private cultivation of land? If not how much land can a family own? Only once women and men once again see themselves as members of communities with leaders whom they know and trust and whom they can go and talk to because they live down the road within walking distance, will there be a human scale transition to net zero GHG emissions by 2050 for developed countries and by 2060 for developing countries. Until we realise that this question could be more carefully thought through, we will have the COVID-19 chaos as a living example of how not to do politics in the age of mitigating and adapting to climate change.

Anandi Sharan is an independent writer



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