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The Radical Routes network of housing and worker co-ops (and social centres) recently considered (and rejected) the idea of committing itself to 10:10, the anti-climate change project initiated by Franny Armstrong, director of The Age of Stupid, and sponsored by the Guardian.
10:10, which Peace News has signed up to, commits individuals and businesses in Britain to cutting their carbon emissions by 10% during 2010 (the real year, or the financial year – PN’s aim), something that must be done if we are to stop runaway climate change.
One of the reasons Radical Routes decided not to sign up to 10:10 was that it can be used as a form of corporate greenwash – propaganda to make monster corporations look good. This is certainly true, and there is no independent audit of whether companies live up to their 10:10 pledges.
There are a lot of legitimate criticisms one can make of 10:10. Nevertheless, 10:10 is a positive action that we can take. As it says on the website: “It’s easy to feel powerless in the face of a huge problem like climate change, but by uniting everyone behind immediate, effective and achievable action, 10:10 enables all of us to make a meaningful difference.”
10:10 is about aligning people towards solutions – right now: “By signing up to a 10% target we’re not just supporting 10:10 – we’re making it happen. In our homes, in our workplaces, our schools and our hospitals, our galleries and football clubs and universities, we’ll be backing each other up as we take the first steps on the road to becoming a zero-carbon society.”
10:10 is about informed public opinion setting a standard for institutions large and small, and for us all as individuals. It’s about making some policy changes now (10%), and engineering a massive culture change. That culture change is a necessary first step towards massive institutional change, as governments and corporations restructure themselves.
Just as a large proportion of people in Britain (and the industrial countries generally) are unconvinced that climate change is human-caused, and need to be convinced, a majority of people in the major powers have yet to be convinced that war can be abolished.
With climate change and war, real lasting solutions will require large-scale institutional change – nonviolent revolution. As we slog on today, hoping for and working for these revolutions, we have to make the changes that are possible with things-as-they-are.
The changes that we want rely on making cultural shifts, the delegitimisation of war and violence and carbon crimes. Cultural shifts don’t make revolutions or even social changes by themselves, but they are indispensable preconditions for changes that matter.