United Kingdom: Families declare a climate emergency

In our globalised world, numerous families have members of the family living in different countries, and Christmas and New Year is often the one time of the year when they travel to be united again. This year, some families have a new idea they will be discussing when they meet: A family climate emergency declaration.

Daniel Scharf built and currently runs the web site www.familyclimateemergency.net from the UK with this in mind. The approach is the result of consultations mostly within Daniel’s family in the UK, US and Canada, who will all be represented at the family’s initial assembly and declaration at Christmas.

The family extends to about 20 adults and has a mailing list.

Beyond that, Daniel hopes that another family might cohere with a greater level of affinity. The family which ranges from the very knowledgeable to the pretty ignorant, is also divided between support and ‘just watching’, but with no dissent.

The site has had very limited circulation while in the stage of ‘proof of concept’ but again, with no dissent.

Daniel writes:
“My belief is that families will respond to the highest common factor ie will help and not hinder those members who are keen to lead the family along the transition. This will mean that the number of declarations being made in the family will increase from an initial 50% to 75% within the first 6 months, and close in on 100% by the end of the year.

I also expect some immediate pledges; to reduce flying (‘love miles’ being flown by my family was one of the main motivations for building the web site), eat less meat, plant trees (eg 9 hectares!), increase cycling and joining cycling campaigns, increase lobbying, buying EVs.

There are questions about offsetting (eg the new forest), rewarding lobbying with carbon credits, and green hypocrisy that will engage us and others for the next few years and which will be addressed through the Blog.

We are discussing the form of our first assembly and how formal to make it, ie this is serious and needs to be treated seriously, or we are a family and need to be careful not to put people off.

The site is recommending a footprinting programme so that families can compare their performance but we are uncertain whether this could be formalised. I am thinking of trying to set up a league table towards the end of the year. The important point is not what has been reduced, but how close we are getting to zero.”

The most profound questioning from a family supporter was on the grounds that this is not ‘system change’ and that families are not ‘affinity groups’. Daniel believes that families are affinity groups (and even the aggro is based on caring) that could cohere about this common cause making a virtue out of a necessity. Systems are built of sub-systems, and families are an organising system that covers the planet.