Tiffany Kane: The year is 2029. We did it.

Ben Wray

On the day of the Global Climate Strike, Common Weal Operations Manager Tiffany Kane imagines a future 10 years from now where we did take the necessary climate action

THE year is 2029.

It’s been 10 years since the world’s biggest ever global climate strike. 10 years since the UN Climate Summit where leaders of the world finally started treating the climate crisis like an emergency. 10 years since Scotland took to the world stage as pioneers of a Green New Deal – a blueprint for survival that was emulated by other countries across the world.

What a decade to live through. We were staring mass extinction right in the face. 

In 2017 we saw 43 million people across South Asia hit by flooding with more than 1200 killed. 18 months worth of drought by El Nino left 36 million people facing hunger across southern and eastern Africa. Hurricane Harvey displaced over 30,000 people, 17,000 having to be rescued and over 100 killed. It was also the second costliest natural disaster in US history (Hurricane Katrina taking first place) with over 100 billion in economic losses. 2015 was one of the deadliest heat waves in history killing more than 3,700 people in India and Pakistan, with heatwaves continuing to kill the poorest in society who could not afford to escape the blistering heat.

In 2019 we watched the Amazon burn as indigenous people were killed fighting to protect their land.

It was tragic. It was devastating. It was terrifying. 

READ MORE: Are we ready to adapt to the coming age of climate refugees?

There was a creeping realisation that these tragedies, along with the many other crises we were facing, such as poverty, economic inequality, homelessness, was a culmination of living in a pernicious system for decades, which had been let off the leash, and was fundamentally based on power, exploitation and greed. Thankfully people were starting to wake up to this fact and they were preparing to fight back. 

2019 was a pivotal year. After Brexit day, we witnessed the end of the Tory party as we knew it, and the beginning of the end of the British state. A few years later, we saw Scotland and Wales winning their independence and sovereignty, Irish reunification, and more devolved powers and self-determination to the people of the North of England.  

People had started realising that they had been duped and they had been conned. We were taught that an economy which left everything to the market would make us richer, but wealth didn’t ‘trickle down’ it was hoarded at the top. We were told that buying loads of stuff we didn’t need would make us happier, but it made us more insecure and anxious. We were told when it all went wrong in 2008 because of the banker’s own greed that we should pay to bail them out. Well, we paid alright – with the lives of 130,000 people because of austerity

This wasn’t even half of it. 

We had to fight against all of the injustices we were facing. We had to bring all of our battles into the same fight. And we had to unify like never before. 

READ MORE: Children’s Commissioner urges education leaders: don’t punish youth climate strikers

When we finally all came together and built the biggest global movement in history we tore these systems down and we started rebuilding.

At Common Weal we had been working solidly for five years on how to do this – with a range of radical new ideas about redesigning society with people right at the heart.

But a Green New Deal for Scotland was the pinnacle of our work, bringing together all of our values and philosophical vision we had been fighting for years to create. 

The beauty of a Green New Deal, if done properly, is that it has the power to change everything – our culture, our economy, our politics, our society. Yes, it’s about saving the climate. But it’s also about land rights, human rights, global inequalities, public services for all, wealth for all, it’s about investment and development in our communities, opportunity and democracy, it’s about each and every one of us living with respect and dignity by building a humane, compassionate, fair new system – for all of us. 

While some politicians were still desperately clinging on to the idea that individual consumerism would save us (rather than taking on the oil companies) or that a “Green Investment Portfolio” or a “Green Growth Accelerator” would be our saviour (so people could continue getting rich from the crisis rather than admitting the market-friendly centrist religion that had dominated our politics for the last century wasn’t just poor and ineffective economics, it had actually caused the crisis in the first place), but people were far too switched on by now. They found these ‘solutions’ laughable. 

READ MORE: A Green New Deal for Scotland

By the time of the UN Climate Summit in Glasgow 2020 we had won over the majority of hearts and minds in Scotland. We were ready to lead the way and show what a real Green New Deal could do.   

It was this vision which won us independence. 

What happened next was bigger than anything we could have imagined. 

We got to work. We started the process of a Green Revolution and I’m proud to say that today, in 2029, we are set to meet all of our targets by 2045. And it truly is a different world. 

We’ve nearly completely stopped extracting oil and gas from Scottish waters; we’re well on our way to decarbonising transport; we’ve built and nationalised our renewable energy industry; we’ve introduced new building standards so all new houses are built with zero carbon or carbon positive materials as we use Scottish timber and reduce the use of concrete and metal; all existing houses are being renovated to have thermal efficiency of 90 per cent plus; we’ve moved successfully to much healthier diets based on regenerative agriculture – and things taste better; waste is now a resource; we own and plan for better land management; we’ve nationalised most of this so everything is affordable for all and cannot be exploited for profit and greed; lots and lots of new industries in Scotland like advanced timber processing and a booming hydrogen export industry is developing; and we’ve created thousands upon thousands of highly skilled, highly paid, quality jobs. 

This is just a fraction of what we have achieved.

And we are learning all the time. We work closely with our neighbours in Wales, Ireland and England to ensure we share our ideas and resources, and we have close connections internationally as we all strive for a Green future. 

The benefits are astounding. 

We had a rough ride up until 2019. But this was our defining moment. The year that changed everything. When we as a people rise up, realise our potential, and work towards our common goals – anything is possible.

Picture courtesy of Garry Knight