Private Page - Nomination for Blue Planet Award 2019


Achievements Specific to Award

An ongoing 30-year individual campaign that developed and promoted, with minimal resources, a global framework solution for solving the climate crisis based on the premise of equity for survival. This framework solution, ‘Contraction and Convergence’ (C&C), meets the objectives of a carbon-budget-based approach of the UNFCCC and ties such (contracting) budgets to the principle of recognizing human equity (the convergence of per capita emissions made inevitable by a zero emissions future). Globally respected and renowned, it was initially tabled at the UNFCCC at COP-2 in 1996 and agreed in principle at Kyoto (COP-3) in 1997.

Andrew Dlugolecki, a former Director of CGNU described C&C thus, ”C&C is the pivotal proposal. It is simple, robust, its insight into the problem of climate mitigation bears the hallmark of true genius.” C&C is increasingly regarded as the benchmark of what will constitute success in tackling climate change against worsening odds and fundamental to progress at COP-26 in 2020.

In addition, there is the development of the widely acclaimed, interactive science-based Carbon Budget Analysis Tool (CBAT). CBAT enables users to consider arrays of carbon-budgets and climate responses - emphasizing feedbacks and potential consequences - within four inter-linked domains. In 2015 Sir David King, the former UK Government Chief Scientific Advisor described this tool as essential in persuading John Schellnhuber of PIK to revise their carbon-budgeting for a 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Summary of achievements & amount of influence, success and originality, other attributes

In 1989 Aubrey Meyer’s 4-year old daughter Georgia asked him, “Is it true that the world is dying?” This simple question changed Aubrey’s life.
He gave up his career as an award-winning musician and composer to establish the Global Commons Institute (GCI) in 1991.

GCI launched Contraction and Convergence (C&C) at the UN in 1996 (COP-2 UNFCCC)

C&C initiated the carbon budget approach which became a lively discussion at the UNFCCC. This recognizes the need for a rapid decline in carbon emissions globally and combines that contraction rate with the principle of equitable distribution based on per capita emissions. Crucially, it is based on the twin principles of scientific evidence and social justice. C&C has gathered huge recognition over 30 years because of Aubrey’s dedicated research and development, most if not all of it conducted at his own expense and without official governmental support. His work has earned the respect of a huge range of global institutions, diplomats and negotiators from many countries and the general public.

From 2000, C&C became the core tool for calculating carbon reduction targets in what the UK Government described as its world-leading Climate Change Act in 2008. C&C overcomes the divide between science and politics, which in the context of climate change must be the most dangerous dichotomy we face as a species. This Act remains the only international legislation on climate change. It was the key building block delivered by the UK following its chairing of the 2005 G8 Summit, where Prime Minister Tony Blair made global warming a key objective for concrete outcomes. In order to legislate on the proposition that domestic carbon budgets had to be set, a transparent and coherent intellectual basis had to be employed to justify the proposed reductions (which were originally set at a 60% global CO2 reduction by 2050). From the outset, the overarching and fundamental question that politicians and negotiators have faced – and still do – is how do any of us calculate what is our fair, national share? C&C provides the answer.

As a member of the UK parliament (2001-2010) I founded and chaired the All-Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group, and C&C lay at the heart of our work, as it earned cross party support. In 2006 I presented to parliament the first-ever specific C&C legislation. In recognition of its importance as more than simply a science-based framework, but something which has the potential to unite people around a climate justice principle, I joined with other MPs from all sides of parliament to nominate Aubrey for the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. On this occasion the prize was won by U.S. President-elect Barack Obama. Aubrey had been aligned with Obama by the New Statesman as, “One of ten people who will change the world”.

C&C continues to make history. In 2017 it was the basis of a legal challenge brought in the UK High Court, pressing the UK Government to revise its national target to be in line with the Paris Agreement, to which the UK became a signatory in 2016. To prepare for the case, Aubrey spent two years developing the methodology to calculate and individually chart the international shares (both gross and per capita) of the total carbon emitted globally since 1750 for over two hundred countries (using CDIAC data). This important work was submitted to the Talanoa Dialogue to the Paris Agreement, an effort to achieve UNFCCC-Compliance.

Over 30 years’ dedicated work, Aubrey has refined C&C and used its methodology to further enhance our understanding of the intersections between science and policy. His questioning zeal has led him at times (many times!) to question mainstream thought on climate change – that is thought which is sometimes more influenced by politically expedient questions rather than scientific evidence. For example, he was quick to note that evidence supplied to the UK parliament’s Environmental Audit Select Committee (of which I was member) by the UK Meteorological Office had failed to take into account climate feedback mechanisms in its assessments of likely climate change projections which consequently appeared to show a less worrying trend. Aubrey has consistently been unafraid to challenge common assumptions with a disciplined, heuristic approach. The next IPCC assessment of climate change projections will now include feedback mechanisms.

Another example of his innovative thinking is his development of the widely acclaimed Carbon Budget Analysis Tool (CBAT) in 2013. CBAT is a 'user-as-chooser' device. Within its science-based structure, users have inter-dependent options for sizing carbon-budgets and their potential consequences. CBAT allows users to consider ranges of climate responses in four domains, each operating on each other, namely: (D1) Contraction & Concentrations Budget-emissions separate from feedback-emissions/effects and accumulations in the atmosphere; (D2) Contraction & Convergence Internationally sharing a shrinking global carbon budget; (D3) Contraction and Conversion Converting fossil fuel production/consumption to renewable alternatives - 'Green Growth’; (D4) Damages & Growth minus Damages, comparing the benefits of doing enough soon enough with the costs of doing too little too late. These domains can be explored in detail using the CBAT toolkit available freely on the GCI website

It is a hallmark of Aubrey’s work that all of his analysis and outcomes are freely available on the GCI website. It is also an expression of his selfless devotion to furthering a solution to climate change, now more desperately needed than ever. Intergenerational justice has moved into the political spotlight with the recognition, exemplified by Greta Thunberg, that action now is imperative for future generations. C&C has always been a future facing tool – for the distribution of future CO2 emission ‘rights.’

But another aspect which Aubrey has developed is account-taking of historic emissions. He has performed this task to address a complaint, made especially by developing nations, that their development could be stymied by carbon budgets which do not include the retrospective emissions of already developed nations. This is an especially important point not only politically – to convince developing nations to agree to international commitments to reduce CO2 emissions, but to address genuine social inequity grievances.

My nomination of Aubrey Meyer for the Blue Planet Prize is because of the impact his work has had on policy making in the UK and internationally. Copious evidence for this is at this link which includes the Asia Development Bank’s ‘High Level Dialogue on Climate Change – with a Statement on C&C’ (July 2009)

Whilst Aubrey Meyer may have given up his profession as a violinist and composer, what he has learnt from the discipline of music underpins the Contraction & Convergence framework. C&C works because - as in an orchestra – it is based on playing together in-time and in-tune. Our future now depends on this.

Aubrey calls C&C, The Well-Tempered Climate Accord to underline the non-ideological properties of this methodology, as illustrated below.

“Heyam duhkam anagatam” – Yoga Sutras Patanjali, 6th Century BCE
‘The pain that has not yet come can be avoided’, as Aubrey is fond of quoting.