In our latest ‘meet the members’ piece we speak to Julien Dossier, the founder of Quattrolibri, an innovation consultancy on transition strategies. Julien is an expert in carbon neutrality and co-authored the Paris Carbon Neutrality Strategy. He believes we need to trust, support and compliment each other to take action in order to tackle the climate crisis.
I came to the conclusion that we need a broad and diverse alliance of actors working together on the question of responses to climate change. These are big questions, and we need to engage a big mass of players to tackle them beyond the obvious realms of experts and activists, because they are the committed few. We must work with others who share the same ambition, which also helps to confirm our own motivation. I share my thoughts and ideas often with others and am often asked in return “what can I do?” I have worked out a way to reply to this that is positive. When I am giving a talk, I will ask the audience to each speak to their neighbour about what they are doing. I then walk among them and record snippets of these conversations as I go past. I then play this recording back to the audience to show them their collective sound: a large group of people all engaged in the same purpose. I encourage them to trust each other to take action to support each other. This very simple method breaks the mould of separation and fear, allowing genuine diversify outside of our current silos.
We must learn to complement each other, not duplicate what someone else is doing. If we are all similar we will fail. The government, cities, pension funds, business people, corporations, researchers, activists must all work together because none of us can succeed on our own. We must organise ourselves and trust each other. Alliance is a strong world, because it implies a true bond that ties us and is serious, showing we share values. Members of an alliance can look into each others’ eyes and know that we share a great deal.
I responded immediately to The Rapid Transition Alliance when I saw the launch on Twitter, because it was talking about a long-term vision with firm conviction. I believe in building bridges and links between people and organisations. It will be all the more important in the near future to unite across the fence of Brexit; it will be so important to ensure we maintain close links between the UK and neighbouring countries. We need to treat the climate crisis as a true emergency and need to make the transition as quickly as possible to a fossil free world. We can do this better if we join together and support each other.
Biggest challenge to Rapid Transition is the tight schedule. I am very concerned by the timing and the lack of understanding about how short a time is left. The Paris Agreement deadline of 2050 will be reached after just 5 more municipal elections in France, because they happen every 6 years. I display this as a countdown in months (373) and days (21) to remind everyone using a scale we can comprehend. This short timeframe is, however, an effective tool for screening out certain technologies that simply take too long or won’t be ready in time. We may have enough water available, but if it arrives too late, the house will still burn down. If anything, we need to speed up; our Rapid Transition is already falling behind and the goalposts are moving away faster with every day.
I divide the time available into 3 phases: Phase 1 is up to 12 months, which leaves no time to change laws, raise funds, or develop new technologies. But behavioural change can happen quickly: a person could decide one day not to fly, or a school could decide to run a walk to school campaign. Even the incredible School Strike falls in this category, because it was achieved within a year. Phase 2 is 1-5 years, which allows enough time to make a farm organic, to change urban land use, and to train people, but not to build big infrastructure such as rail systems or nuclear power stations. Phase 3 is 5-10 years, some of which requires planning ahead and starting now – for example, the R&D needed to change the car industry to retrofit existing cars. These three phases take us to the point where we aim to have cut 50% of emissions – 2030. This is how we could get ourselves on target. If we fail, then we will need much more radical change. What Extinction Rebellion is doing right now is ringing an alarm to warn us of the extremely tight schedule.
We focus on sharing a picture that illustrates beautifully some of the possibilities for a roadmap to carbon neutrality. Inspired by an original Old Master by the Italian painter Lorenzetti, this modern version can be used as a tool to teach and train people about the timetable ahead. We need to visualise a new world if we are to show a viable alternative proposal. This helps first to stem people’s anxiety, and then creates a self-fulfilling prophecy as people start to see themselves in the picture and identify with possible change. I have used it with my 7 year old son, top mathematicians, government ministers, heads of corporations, NGOs, and activists. It reveals the potential for people to join together, and allows a convergence of energy for us to unite our forces around.
Credit: The colouring fresco, drawing by Johann Bertrand d’Hy, copyright by Julien Dossier. More info: www.renaissanceecologique.fr
My favourite example was using this huge picture in an interactive way with 120 executives – responsible leaders from western corporations who were already strong on sustainability, but were falling behind compared to the timetable needed to address our climate emergency. They read the accompanying book before joining our seminar, where we placed the 120 leaders across 24 zones in the image, broke down their plans into the 3 time phases, and arrived at 83 practical actions in one afternoon. This group represented 56,000 employees.
We need a new sound like the beat of a drum or a rhythm, that is a call to action for everyone. It could be played in the streets to drum up action, to unite people, and to bring us together. It would be the music of change. Perhaps we could revisit the Earth Hour, when we switch off our lights, and make this revolve instead around a drumbeat to start action – a shared beat. It could be very loud to bring people out onto the streets, where they can own the sound waves. Our national radio stations could play the sounds at the same time all around the world.
Julien Dossier is the founder of Quattrolibri, an innovation consultancy on transition strategies.