The following letter was sent to New Zealand elected representatives on 29 March, 2020. We are now re-posting this as an open letter.
Greetings, We are writing to yo with a proposal about handling Covid-19 and adaption to a post-fossil fuel world for your consideration.
The Covid-19 pandemic is resulting in a drastic reduction in carbon use. At the same time, it is shining light on vulnerabilities in our fragile, interconnected global system of production, which has relied on cheap, easily accessible energy and high levels of debt.
This era is over. At some stage, in a few months, or few years, life will adapt around a new normal. How elected representatives act, or fail to act to support needed transitions, will make all the difference to how well this new normal will look and work for people and societies.
Just as New Zealand politicians showed leadership in coming together to make a commitment to be carbon neutral by 2050, there is an opportunity now, to come together again, this time with community support, to take action for needed for transitions to less energy intensive life-styles.
Please consider this proposal and talk about it with your colleagues. It would be wonderful to have cross-party leadership on this unprecedentedly important issue. Our proposal follows:
Transition Monday Proposal
We have all come to need fossil fuels for just about everything we do. However, the era of easy-to-access, affordable fossil fuels is over and renewable energy options that many are looking to instead, cannot, in fact, simply replace fossil fuels. Fossil fuels will still be needed to build and maintain renewable, which will also continuously need replacement. The corona virus looks like tipping the fragile global economic and energy-based order into major, possibly irreversible crises. We suggest this moment could be used as an opportunity to continue to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and see better how to construct new life-styles that enable all to live well in a more localized, post-fossil fuel world.
We all live somewhere with our fellow human and non-human inhabitants. Getting through this corona virus could involve many in forced isolation from each other, which could involve deep and widespread levels of desperation and fear. So, both during and after this isolation, it is important that people can instead, come to feel safe and socially connected.
We propose the government see this crisis as an opportunity to focus on the practicalities of transitioning to a life without fossil fuels e.g. local food, transport, clean water, local economy, livelihoods – and support new ways of developing and connecting practical (including indigenous) and theoretical knowledge, to enable well informed effective policy decisions.
To this end, we propose, when this state of emergency ends, that the government introduce a 4 day working week (with Monday off) and offer a carbon-free dividend, in the form of some kind of monetary remuneration to support people, including businesses and organizations to continue to reduce their use of fossil fuels and focus on needed transitions to a post-fossil fuel future.
This day, which could usefully be called Transition Monday, could provide an opportunity, each week, for conversations to add what is being learned from meeting needs, in particular, including the needs of our most vulnerable, in a time of crisis.
New Zealand has previously led the world in making changes it needed, for instance, with labour disputes legislation in the 1890s, in the 1930s giving women the vote and pioneering social welfare and then in 1987, passing nuclear free legislation. It could lead the world again in modelling transitioning with new forms of belonging, connecting, caring and moving to less energy intensive life-styles by meeting more needs locally, and building systems which institutionalize these values.
As Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern famously said, “Let’s do this… ” We suggest the government declare Transition Monday a day where we work in our nation and in our localities on how to transition most effectively, together, to this rapidly approaching post-fossil fuel world.
Thank you for reading. We welcome your responses, any questions, or criticisms and if you like the idea, any suggestions you yourself might like to make for Transition Mondays.
Ahmed, Nafeez, 5 Feb 2020, Government Agency Warns Global Oil Industry Is on the Brink of a Meltdown https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/8848g5/government-agency-warns-global-oil-industry-is-on-the-brink-of-a-meltdown
Mikulka, Justin, 27 February, 2020, Peak Permian Oil Production May Arrive Much Sooner Than Expected, DeSmog UK https://www.resilience.org/stories/2020-02-27/peak-permian-oil-production-may-arrive-much-sooner-than-expected/
Joy, Mike, 2019, Biophysical limits to growth; the future of food and energy, Institute for Governance and Policy studies (IGPS), Victoria University