The Leap Manifesto is an unashamedly radical plan to convert the world to 100% renewable energy, fast. And you can be a part of it
Leap day is coming up at the end of the month remember this one?
Thirty days hath September,
April, June, and November.
All the remainder have thirty one,
except February, on its own,
which has twenty eight most times.
And in a leap year, twenty nine.
I get interested in leap years a few months ago when a group of us in Canada were trying to come up with a title for an independent political platform we had just drafted. The document launched during our recent federal election and signed by thousands and thousands of Canadians was a roadmap to get the country entirely off fossil fuel by the mid-century or sooner, in line with what many scientists are telling us we must do, and what technologists are telling us we now can do.
And we wanted to go further: the plan argues that in the process of fundamentally changing our country to make it green, we also have a once-in-a-century opportunity to make it fairer. We could redress terrible incorrects done to indigenous peoples; radically reduce economic, racial and gender inequalities; eliminate legal double the criteria for immigrant workers; and create a whole lot of stable, well-paying tasks. In very un-Canadian fashion, we even dared to hope that the manifesto might become a model for similar broad-based confederations in other countries.
The text we came up with was unabashedly radical, and it went on to be endorsed by more than 100 organisations. An array of Canadian celebrities also added their names: Leonard Cohen, Donald Sutherland and Ellen Page, among others.
Our first challenge was what to call it. We wanted to convey the necessity of achieving speed, since as Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the UN framework convention on climate change, said recently: Where capital goes in the next five years will decide what kind of world we have.
One suggestion was The Leap. And yes, we worried about inevitable comparings to Mao Zedongs disastrous Great Leap Forward. But what ultimately tip-off the balance in its favour was when we realised that 2016 is a leap year.
It wasnt just good timing, we supposed, but a powerful analogy. After all, we periodically add an extra day to our calendars because if we didnt, the seasons would gradually fall out of alignment and eventually the seasons would go wacky. Imaging New Yorkers doing their Christmas shopping in T-shirts( oh right, that happened ).
It was Julius Caesar, in 46 BC, who decided to bring the 365 -day solar calendar to the Romans, throwing in that extra day every four years. He wasnt known as a humble man, but even a dictator in perpetuity realised that it was easier to change regulations written by other humen than it is to change the laws of nature.
Thats a lesson worth re-learning and fast. Like the Romans with their failing calendar, we find ourselves trapped within multiple failing systems: economic, political, even spiritual. And all these system failings have put humanity on a collision course with countries around the world, which warms and writhes the more we refuse to recognise its limits.
We all received a vivid reminder of this problem a couple of months ago in Paris. To much fanfare, our governments unveiled a global climate bargain that pledged to keep warming levels to 2C or better yet, 1.5 C. Then many of those politicians went home to hand out new drilling rentals, new pipelines, and new highways.
Thats why we chose The Leap as the name for our manifesto: the gap between where we are and where we need to be is so great, and the time so short, that small steps simply will not cut it.
With this in mind, the manifesto not only calls for a rapid change to 100% renewable electricity, it insists that these new energy projects should be democratically controlled and that indigenous peoples should be first to receive public is supportive of their own clean energy projects. So should communities currently dealing with heavy health the health effects of polluting industrial activity.
To pay for all this, we called for dramatic changes to how public revenues are collected and spent, from an end to fossil fuel subsidies, and higher royalty rates on fossil fuel extraction, to cuts in military spending. And those are just a few of its 15 demands.
The plan captured the imagination of many Canadians. Burned out by decades of the struggle against what they dont want tar sands pipelines, explosion petroleum develops, draconian security bills they seized on the chance to rally around a vision for the world they actually wishes to. On leap day later this month, there will be sessions, teach-ins and other events across the country, all of them pushing our new government to adopt a holistic approach to the twin crisis of climate change and inequality.
And as we had hoped, it is spreading beyond our own borders. Platforms partly inspired by The Leap have been launched in Denmark and across the European Union, and others are in the works in England and Australia. Even one in Nunavut. Several groups in the US are looking at drafting regional leap manifestos.
Two millennia ago, Julius Caesar realised that there was something even more powerful than his empire: the planets revolution around the sunlight. Today, we need a different kind of solar revolution, one that doesnt only change how we generate our power, but also who benefits.
Heres the good news: we have the momentum to make that leap from the recent victories against Keystone XL and Shells Arctic drilling, to the surprising strength of Bernie Sanders presidential campaign.
So take a minute or two to be considered the extra day at the end of this month. Its a reminder that people can indeed are working together to change a failing decide of rules. The the statutes of nature , not so much.
Then lets make this 2016 the year we started to bridge the chasm between what is, and what must be. Lets make it the year we started to leap.
The Leap Manifesto, along with a listing of its original signatories, can be read in 10 languages here. To find out about leap year activities visit leapyear2 016. org. On Friday 5 February, Naomi Klein is co-hosting a leap year-themed Google hangout with Bill McKibben of 350. org, Asad Rehman of Friends of the Earth and others. Register here.
Read more: www.theguardian.com