My government acknowledges that it has taken its time about it, but believes that late is better than never.
Accordingly, my government will dedicate this parliament to retooling our economy and society for the coming post-carbon age.
My government believes that business-as-usual is no longer an option, and that that only collective national action can save us now. My government promises, in short, to get a grip. It apologises to the nation for not having done so sooner.
My government will herald this new age by bringing forward legislation to introduce carbon rationing in the UK within five years, based around the principle of contraction and convergence. Every individual and organisation will be issued with an annual carbon budget, the punishment for exceeding which shall be a custodial sentence. A watertight carbon trading scheme will be introduced to complement this.
My government will therefore call an immediate halt to all major developments, and urgently reconsider them in the light of their impact on climate change and the environment as a whole.
My government will immediately scrap existing plans to spend £30 billion expanding the road network over the next decade. Instead, it will commit itself to radical and binding targets to reduce car use by 40% within the same timeframe.
My government will bring forward legislation within the first year of this parliament to promote a massive platform of public transport expansion, including new railway lines, guaranteed daily bus access for all, a concerted programme of cycling promotion, including a free bicycle for every citizen, and the immediate pedestrianisation of all town and city centres. My government will fund this by diverting the money it had previously planned to spend on renewing Trident and propping up the nuclear industry.
My government will immediately scrap its plans to build new runways and terminals at major airports. Instead it will commit itself to binding targets to reduce the number of flights taken by Britons every year. It will also bring forward legislation introducing a stringent tax on aviation fuel, the proceeds of which will be used to fund the promotion of farmers markets across the UK.
My government will also scrap its current target of building 200,000 new houses every year for the next fifteen years. Instead it will set up a commission to review effective, affordable and sustainable ways to house my subjects. The commission will be empowered to explore not only ways of meeting current needs, but ways of reducing them in the future.
My government accepts that such pioneering national action will be of little use if other nations do not follow suit. Thus it commits itself to taking a lead in international negotiations on climate change.
My government will propose a new secretariat of the United Nations, dedicated solely to drawing up radical, binding international targets on greenhouse gas reductions, to apply to all nations, based around the principle of contraction and convergence, and focusing on solid, science-backed emissions reductions targets with built-in financial incentives. The secretariat will be funded by international taxes on the profits of the world’s 500 biggest corporations.
My government accepts also that the global economy as currently formulated is part of the solution and not part of the problem. My government thus urgently commits itself to developing a philosophical basis for our national story that is not predicated on endless and unsustainable economic growth. It promises henceforth to strike the phrase ‘remain competitive in the global economy’ from its vocabulary and replace it with ‘grow up a bit, stop being so greedy and learn how to live within our means.’
Finally, my government believes that climate change offers our nation not only threats but also opportunities. It intends to grasp these with both hands.
My government will bring forward legislation designed to make the UK a world leader in sustainable energy technologies, via a massive boost in pubic funding for their research and development, to be funded by a tax on the profits of our four biggest supermarkets and the nest egg it had planned to spend on helping George Bush bomb Iran.
My government will work towards making the United Kingdom self-sufficient in all major foodstuffs by 2021. It will bring forward legislation instituting a major programme of land reform, guaranteeing every citizen access to at least half an acre of growing land, and the right to buy more at affordable prices. My government will also reform the planning system to promote small-scale, affordable, low-impact developments in rural and urban areas, and introduce a moratorium on new out-of-town developments and retail parks.
My government will promote small and family farming across the nation, and introduce financial and legislative protection for small, independent and local businesses. My government will legislate to limit the power, influence and reach of multinational companies within the boundaries of the United Kingdom.
To summarise, my government intends to be tough on climate change, and tough on the causes of climate change. My government would also like to assure both houses of my parliament that this is only the beginning.
My Lords and Members of the House of Commons, I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may rest upon your counsels.
This article first appeared in the Ecologist November 2006