The costs of decisions we make today will be borne by future generations; the issue of intergenerational justice is at the heart of the need to act on climate change. So how might the world be different if the interests and basic needs of future generations were given legal protection?
Earlier this year, OneWorldcolumnist, Rupert Read, a philosopher at the University of East Anglia and founder of the new Green House Think Tank, launched a proposal called Guardians of the Future at the House of Commons: A council of "Guardians of Future Generations", chosen like a jury from the general public, would sit above the existing law-making bodies and have two core powers. A power to veto legislation that threatened the basic needs and interests of future people and the power to force a review, following suitable public petition, of any existing legislation that threatens the interests of future people.
In his forthcoming book, Occupy World Street, Ross Jackson, proposes a similar, but elected, institution as one of many specific political and economic reforms that could make it possible to address climate change and protect future generations: A council of 'wise elders' would be elected ─ one from each major region of the world ─ to exercise just one power, and that to be used sparingly, the power to veto or void any resolution passed by lower powers whenever they feel things are moving in the wrong direction for the whole of humanity.
Damian Carrington, covering the launch of Rupert Read's proposal in the Guardian, wrote:
The idea of Guardians of Future Generations joins a number of radical ideas which are starting to make small but real impacts in the world. Hungary appointed an Ombudsman for Future Generations in 2008. The concept of the crime of ecocide is being considered by the UN. And Bolivia has passed laws giving nature equal rights to those of humans.Come along to hear Ross and Rupert discuss their ideas, and to join in the public debate that follows. Tuesday, 20th March at the Assembly House, Norwich, 6-7.30pm.
Ross Jackson's book Occupy World Street: A Global Roadmap for Radical Economic and Political Reform is published by Green Books on 22nd March 2012.