What Extinction Rebellion should do next – a proposal

  1. The starting point: We need effective systems to solve complex tasks.
  2. Climate Change is the largest and most complex challenge Humanity has ever faced. It must involve all people on earth, all areas of life, and areas of policy making. To solve the problem of Climate Change we need the most effective systems conceivable.
  3. The system which we have created in democratic societies for handling policy problems is the democratic policy making system, with the government at the top.
  4. Our government system is by no means effective (in this case regarding the UK system specifically, also valid for other democratic nations). It does not set its priorities right; it does not create effective strategies. Our government fails in many ways (Brexit – over three years not able to present a convincing solution!, Climate Change, other areas.)
  5. Already in 2012 (!) Parliament raised the issue: They said that they had “little confidence” that government policies are informed by a clear, coherent strategic approach”. In other words, they said: Government strategy making was completely faulty and ineffective (or “rubbish” if you like!).
  6. They concluded: Failing to fix the deficits in strategic thinking in government could have “catastrophic consequences”, also in Climate Change! Parliament itself failed however as a control institution to make sure the deficit was fixed. (Here the people/XR needs to come in: The people need to make sure that Government does its job properly and that there is an effective control system over Government.)  
  7. In its reactions to the Climate Protests the Government confirms that it is completely ineffective:
  8. Rather than engaging with the Climate Protesters the Prime Minster so far has said nothing about the protests. She rather acts as a marshal in a local run! (that is blatantly wrong priority setting – if the world is at stake).
  9. The reactions of other high government officials were completely inadequate: They suggested for example that the Climate Protesters were “clowns” and protesting “against public transport”
  10. As we said we need a system of the greatest degree of effectiveness to solve Climate Change.
  11. Extension Rebellion theoretically has two options to make sure we have such a system:

a) to set up such an effective system on its own

b) to demand and ensure that the present political system operates as effectively as it must to handle climate change.

  1. Option one is completely unrealistic and nonsensical. The UK Government System and Civil service currently employ around 450000 persons. If we declare a Climate Emergency, this means that all these 450000 persons (plus the entire population of the UK) must somehow be involved in policy making and implementation against  Climate Change. There is no use in wanting to replicate such a system.
  2. XR can only pursue option 2: It must ensure that the existing Climate Change policy making system with the (any) Prime Minister at the top works as effectively and efficiently as only possible – and is possibly restructured and enhanced to ensure that is the case.  
  3. We have zero time to lose in making sure that the Climate Policy System is effective and capable to design and implement an effective strategy against Climate Change.
  4. XR should therefore as a next step put the Prime Minister on the spot. The Prime Minister as the Head of Government is responsible for ensuring policy effectiveness.
  5. It should demand that the Prime Minister immediately names an able Secretary for Climate Change Policy (as a key contact for XR – with adequate qualifications in the structuring of complex problems).
  6. XR must then clarify together with this new Secretary for Climate Change Policy what the most suitable strategy against Climate Change is.
  7. XR must then make sure that the new Secretary for Climate Change (with  the support of the Prime Minister) implements the required strategy.
  8. There is no effective system without effective control.     
  9. XR actually must function as the control system of the people in making sure that government works effectively regarding Climate Change. XR can only then create an effective UK and global Climate Change policy, if it learns how to act effectively as a “Citizens’ Control System” over Climate Change Policy. (By protesting it takes a first step in exerting such a control function.)
  10. Protesting appears necessary to get the attention of government and of wider society. But it is by no means enough. XR must take constructive action to ensure that there is an effective climate change policy system. 
  11. XR demands a Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change. Also a Citizens’ Assembly, if it is effective, will have to come to the conclusion that an effective fight against Climate Change demands a highly effective policy making system. 
  12. So why not start now? Why not set up an effective process to ensure the effectiveness of national Climate Change Policy now? 
  1. My concrete proposals:
  2. Put the Prime Minister on the spot. Concentrate the protests around Downing Street.
  3. Demand that the Prime Minister establishes an effective system and process to implement an effective Climate Change Policy
  4. Concretely: Demand that the Prime Minister establishes a separate Department for Climate Change (perhaps together with Environment – if the planet is at stake “as we know it” then we need a specific department to deal with such an issue and emergency.)
  5. Demand that the government names a capable Secretary for Climate Change Policy as a main contact for XR
  6. Demand that this secretary for Climate Change works closely with XR on developing an effective UK and International Strategy to stop Climate Change.
  7. If the Prime Minister does not understand: Solicit also the support from Parliament (Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, Sir Bernard Jenkin MP, responsible for Report on Government strategy making deficits.
  8. If that does not help: Tell the British public clearly that the Prime Minister needs to act and install an effective system to combat climate Change and restart frequent traffic disruptions in London – until the Prime Minister install a new department and secretary for Climate Change Policy.
  9. One must convey clearly to the British public and the people affected by traffic disruptions that the Prime Minister can stop the disruptions immediately by doing what is required: By installing a new Secretary for Climate Change Policy with whom XR can work together.

Hans Peter Ulrich        www.optimizingdemocracy.org        opt_democracy@btinternet.com             22 April 2019

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