Let people decide about their environmental impact. To do so, implement a fair system for dealing with sustainable matters when buying goods and services, which enables people to consciously choose what they consume and how much they consume based on transparent information.
Society has lost track of Aristotle legacy. He perceived the city as a natural community. Moreover, he saw it as preceding the family unit, which in turn precedes the individual, i.e., last in the order of becoming, but first in the order of being. With his statement whereby ‘man is by nature a political animal’, Aristotle understood a city to be a political ‘partnership’. According to his thinking then, a city is created not to avoid injustice or for economic stability, but rather to live a good life. Politics and economics both aim at providing welfare for all the members of the community.
Human brain is not wired to deal with long-term issues - a pity. Capitalism, market theory and the whole economic framework rely on assumptions that are fine but quite optimistic. Integrating long-term consequences of short-term decisions is supposedly dealt with in the finance theory to few learnt and understood when they were at school. As recent events have shown, it does not work well enough. What's more, the challenges ahead of us - climate change (whether you like it or not), overpopulation, food and precious water - require a much more long-term thinking of all... and compassionate feelings.
The vast majority of environmentat decisions are made by governments and corporation... when they are willing to do so. Even if some citizens are aware that human activities are having an irreversible impact on the planet, and hence on everyone of us, a very few act.
Making people - every one of us - accountable for its own environmental impact is a good start.
Distribute emission rights equally to all individuals in the world on a yearly basis. As generally accepted, it means approximately 2 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per person per year.
As anyone else on earth, I would get my fair share.
Account for emissions when producing goods and delivering services and require firms to obtain emission rights. It requires to improve the systems that exist and to develop some new ones as well.
Account for emissions when buying goods and give back the corresponding amount of emission rights. Buying any good without giving emission righs back is not possible anymore.
Accounting for emissions when I make a decision - whether buying a Ferrari or drinking a beer - and giving back the corresponding emission rights I will start consume in a sustainable way. As a westerner, I'll rapidly run out of emission rights...
Develop a place for trading emission rights. Individuals willing to consume more must acquire additional emission rights. What's more, firms that have over-produced must acquire additional emission rights as well.
In first instance, I will definitely need to buy some more if I want to keep my current standard of living.
Let's not be naive. A black market will rapidly develop for buying things without giving back any emission rights. Control means and enforcement means must rapidly be developed and implemented.
Everyone will be treated equally as part the unique community of human beings and as our-world citizen.
Long-term impact will be integrated in the decision making process as the share people receive will dimension the way they consume whatever their wealthyness.
The wealthiest will "spontaneously" support the poorest when buying additional emission rights.
Sustainability will become a democratic business rather than the private business of governments and corporations.
Over-production and waste will decrease as firms will have to buy emission rights for what wasn't sold.
Growth will stop coming from more. It will come from better as people will finally value what they consume truly.
Start by accounting emission w/o gathering emission rights from people in a voluntary country.
Integrate it in some simulations to demonstrate the impact on economies.
Inspired by the passionate discussions at the London Business School during the course "Crafting the Future of Work" (Lynda Gratton) and the thoughfull courses of plenty of other lecturers (and guest speakers) among which Mike Blowfield and Julian Birkinshaw. Also inspired by some books.