System Change Not CLimate Change: OUR TWO DEMANDS- (a)Beyond Kyoto- 90% reduction in greenhouse gas (b)Frequent and fare free public transport now. PLEASE HELP US AND DONATE TO CLIMACTION- KIWIBANK a/c number 389005 094861900. Contact us at 021 186 1450

Saturday, November 18, 2006

System Change Not Climate Change Conference 2006

Climaction Conference
Saturday November 25th 2006 1-6pm
Latin American Cultural Centre
37 Selwyn Street, Onehunga, Auckland

We will have two plenary sessions introduced by panels of about four speakers each, reflecting the debate around our two major demands- free and frequent public transport in Auckland, and Beyond Kyoto- Sysytem Change Not CLimate Change. Speakers will be from political, environmental, trade union and community groups active in the fight against climate change.

Between these two plenaries we will break for four streamed workshops to encourage dialogue and discussion from the grassroots. These four workshops will report back to the conference after about an hour of discussion and debate.

The last plenary will then be on Beyond Kyoto- Syytem Change not CLimate Change, where we can look to formulating a national and international policy and strategy. We will also plan future Climactions at this conference, with a possible Carnival reclaiming the (Quay) streets outside the wharfs where they plan to place the unpopular used condom Stadium!

The main purpose of this conference is to build Climactions audience and membership base, to prepare for upcoming actions and to educate and network union, political and community groups around the necessity of taking action.' Spread the word. Get your union, group, college or workplace to send a delegate. Bring three friends. Copy and paste this, and forward it onto all your contacts and lists!
1st Plenary Session- Free and Frequent Public Transport in Auckland
Panel discussion with four invited speakers, then open for debate.

Workshops streamed into 4 Dialogues-
(a) Methane and Meat Agriculture- liberating the land.
(b) Capitalism and Climate Change.
(c ) Monbiot’s Manifesto- a ten 10 point plan
(d) Reclaiming our Streets and our World- Mass Direct Action inspired by Martin Luther King
2nd Plenary Session- Beyond Kyoto: System Change not Climate Change
Panel discussion with four invited speakers then open for debate.

Double Bill Film Screening:
The End of Suburbia
The Greening of Cuba

Latin American music and party afterwards

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Corporate Greenwashers exposed at AL Gore meeting!

AL Gore! What’s the score?
The System’s Rotten to the Core!

Leader of Green Party and Mayor of Waitakare first to sign Climaction Petition.

Al Gore paid a fleeting visit to Aotearoa, meeting with a handpicked audience of NZ’s corporate and political elite at Auckland University’s business school. Despite the fact that over 100,000 Kiwis have seen his film “An Inconvenient Truth”, Mr Gore only spoke to those who could afford a 950 dollar ticket, and declined Climaction’s offer to speak to the people outside.

Mr Gore’s film raises many of the problems we will face in the next 20 years, but is none too hot on possible solutions to the climate crisis. Climaction launched its petition for free and frequent public transport in Auckland as a tangible and achievable reform that will practically reduce carbon emissions, and invited Al to be the first signatory. But lost in the media scrum, he was ushered away by security guards to an awaiting gas guzzling limo, which sped off to the kerosene spewing airport. Climaction would have bought him a bus ticket!

(Audio at,,11964-6563186-300,00.html )

Instead, the first signatories of Climaction’s Free and Frequent Public Transport Petition were Green Party Leader Jeanette Fitzsimmons, Residents Action Movement Councillor Robyn Hughes and Mayor of Auckland’s Waitakare City Bob Harvey. Thousands more signatures will be gathered by Climaction over the next month- you can add your moniker online at

Many members of the corporate and political elite present at the Al Gore presentation did NOT sign, however. John Keyes of National, Minister Benson-Pope of Labour and ozone offender Peter Dunne of United Future seemed content that listening to a lecture for an hour was enough to save the planet. Auckland Regional Council chairperson Mike Lee defended his policy of motorway building, saying he would never support free and frequent public transport because busses ran on diesel. So one bus carrying fifty people causes more pollution than 50 cars, then Mike? Very scientific.

Climaction will now begin a public campaign to make individual politicians accountable for their positions on free and frequent public transport, and will publish their names and positions on our website.
(Any suggestions? Contact the blog at )

Climaction are also inviting all groups, unions and individuals concerned about global warming and a decent public transport system to our first Conference, to be held at the Latin American Cultural Centre, 37 Selwyn Street, Onehunga, Auckland at 1pm on Saturday November 25th.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


The Climaction Carnival on Sat Nov 4th was a big success, attracting a core of 300 people on the day, with many more taking part. The flagging of Civil Disobedience publicly on the day saw a climb-down from both police and possibly Auckland Council, in that 5 minutes before we were due to move onto the street, the cops offered to block the whole road off for us. They had a look at the numbers we had brought and the determination of the organising crew and made a decision to concede, possibly under orders from Auckland Council who had made a political decision of non confrontation. It was a major victory for advertising the location and our tactics, that just days beforehand were being questioned by both mainstream reformists and black bloc enthusiasts. So round one to Climaction in the battle for the streets. This will strengthen our non conspiratorial, democratic calls for mass direct action in the future.

The People's Assembly held around a ton of melting ice was also fantastically dynamic, with both Auckland Regional Councillor Robyn Hughes and Elaine West from RAM speaking strongly in support of Climaction's demands for Free and Frequent Transport and a 90% reduction in greenhouse gasses by 2030. Climaction hegemonised the debate; challenging Councillor Christine Caughey (Action Hobson) and Auckland Regional Council transport committee chair Joel Cayford whether they both supported RAM’s free buses policy. Councillor Caughey said she did, with Joel Cayford saying yes in principle but how was it going to be funded? A later vote at the Assembly resolved by a huge deafening majority that it should be funded not by taxing ordinary workers, but taxing the rich and the corporations. RAM’s free buses song “Moving On” sung by our own Roger Fowler went down a storm as it wrapped up the assembly- totally behind Climaction’s demands in the city.

The Union input into the People’s Assembly was also something mainstream environmentalist protests had not seen before- there were banners and reps there from the SFWU, NDU, EPMU, Unite and Solidarity. Fala Hualangi, the SFWU organiser leading the CleanStart campaign in the city for cleaners, spoke eloquently about the fate of her native Tuvalu , which will be under water in a few decades unless there is major change. She also passionately supported the demand for free and frequent public transport- not only would it help save the planet, it would be a major benefit for the working poor. Fala is now a key ally of Climaction, and will promote the Climaction demands within her union, and other “new unionists” there pledged to do the same. VaeVae Pokino, introduced by Solidarity Union’s secretary Grant Morgan, represented a delegation from the striking Independent Liquor Workers in Papakura, overcoming his shyness to speak at his first ever rally, in front of a banner from Independent Liquor striking Workers supporting System Change Not Climate Change!

The other noticeable thing about the People’s Assembly was it’s wholehearted support of the word “Revolution” as synonymous with the slogan “System Change not Climate Change”- Revolution was used as a political term unapologetically, confidentially and joyously by speakers as diverse as myself (Joe Carolan) from Socialist Worker , Simon Oostermann from the NDU, John Darroch from Radical Youth, and a woman called Josie in her 70s who made a beautiful speech at the end of the Assembly, saying that climate change would effect everyone on the planet regardless of race, gender or age, and that she would support a revolution to stop it. This got a huge roar of joyous applause from an audience not really expecting this from a woman in her 70s, but revolution is an infectious thing, and I had guessed from talking to her earlier she would make a dynamic and surprising wrap up. Not since the heady days of the early anti capitalist movement of 2000-2001 have I seen an openness on the left to discuss anti capitalism and revolution as openly as this.

The day was also a great carnival and celebration- the music was rocking, with anthems of struggle and resistance echoing across an occupied Queen Street-

Mick Jagger’s “Street Fightin’ Man”, Public Enemy’s “Shut em Down”, John Lennon’s “Power to the People”, Lindon Kwesei Johnson’s “War ina Babylon” and the Manic Street Preacher’s “Masses Against the Classes” providing a backdrop for the snowball fights, tobogganing, chalking, dancing, football, break dancing, samba, sunbathing, picnicking and networking going on in the middle of the street. Andrew the Polar Bear sat on a ton of melting ice, Food Not Bombs fed the masses, colourful banners and flags flew in the sun, and 45 new people joined Climaction. The Call Out to Al Gore next Tuesday should attract a good crowd too provided we do our media work well- last Saturday we got coverage from TV3, a picture in the Sunday Star Times and a write up in the Herald OnLine- Next Tuesday could be internationally significant if we play our cards right.

Climaction has attracted a new layer of supporters and potential members, some of them extremely committed and energetic activists. We have built a comradely and fiercely democratic culture that looks to mass direct action in the tradition of Martin Luther King. Climaction has imagination, daring, a cool level head under pressure but looks to mass, direct action and revolution as the only viable solutions to the ecological crisis of the 21st Century.

Monday, November 06, 2006


10am Tuesday Nov 14th 2006
Assemble at the Quad, University of Auckland.

Then march to Auckland Business School for People's Assembly.

To con-incide with Al Gore's visit to Auckland's Business School,
Climaction will host a People's Assembly on Climate Change, as we
believe that big business is the major problem rather that the
solution to climate change. Al Gore is so far only meeting with the
political and business elite at a closed meeting- the People's
Assembly will be issuing a Call Out to him to join our debate on why a
radical system change is needed to climate change, and to talk to the
people of Auckland rather than the corporate polluters.

We will also be asking him to support the Climaction demands for free
and frequent public transport in Auckland and a 90% reduction in
carbon emissions by 2030.

Pls fwd widely!
More info at our blogsite-
Further info phone Joe at 021 186 1450

Join our e group at

From NZ Herald-

Al Gore to star at Kiwi Summit 29 October 2006 By GREG MEYLAN

Former US vice-president Al Gore will visit Auckland next month to
tell key business leaders and politicians in a closed meeting that
they must act now to avert climate change catastrophe.

Gore will jet in on November 14 for half a day en route to Australia
to promote the message of his widely acclaimed film An Inconvenient
Truth, which lays out evidence for the potentially devastating effects
of man-made climate change.

The film has been seen by almost 70,000 Kiwis and screened during this
weekend's Labour Party conference, at which Prime Minister Helen Clark
called for boldness in tackling climate change.

"Why shouldn't New Zealand aim to be the first country which is truly
sustainable?" she said. "I want New Zealand to be in the vanguard of
making it happen, for our own sakes, and for the sake of our planet."

Clark said the government would use "a mix of carrots and sticks" to
work towards sustainable land use and transportation and increase the
energy efficiency of our homes.

She credited An Inconvenient Truth with helping to sharpen public
opinion on the need to act.

Gore will address the board of the New Zealand Super Fund, then give a
90-minute lecture at Auckland University's business school to an
invited audience of MPs and business leaders - but no media. The
impending visit comes as the World Bank's former chief economist Sir
Nicholas Stern warns that climate change could tip the world economy
into a recession as devastating as the 1930s depression and that
governments must start spending serious money to stop it.

His report, due tomorrow, stands the orthodox economic argument on its
head by saying it will be cheaper for developed nations to tackle the
problem now with significant cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, than to
deal with the consequences.

It is a message that resonates with Gore's own.

The Super Fund, which manages billions of dollars of public money set
aside to help fund baby boomers' pensions, invited Gore in his role as
chair of UK-based company Generation Investment Management which
invests in companies that take into account issues such as climate
change and sustainable development.

Economist and Sunday Star-Times columnist Rod Oram said Gore's visit
was part of a growing consensus that the world must take the threat of
climate change seriously.

But he also warned that New Zealand's clean green image was vulnerable
to attacks in our key export markets.

A recent British ad campaign against New Zealand butter used the fact
that it had to be shipped half way round the world to encourage
shoppers to buy British butter, despite the fact that our farming
methods mean even after transportation the end product requires half
the energy of its UK rivals.

"The view from abroad would not necessarily be fair but it could take
bare facts about New Zealand and present them in an absolutely
unflattering way," said Oram.

The Stern report will also highlight the immense geopolitical
ramifications of rising sea levels, which over the next 100 years may
make New Zealand a destination for climate change refugees as well as
displacing our own coastal communities.

Neither the Super Fund nor Business School is paying Gore for the visit.

Bill Clinton, to whom Gore was vice-president for eight years, charged
$1694 a ticket for a talk in Auckland this year.

# Sunday Star-Times columnist Rod Oram will be exploding the myth of
New Zealand's clean green image at a public lecture called "100%
Impure New Zealand: A View From Abroad" at 6pm on Tuesday November 7
at the Red Lecture Theatre on the Unitec campus, Carrington Rd, Mt
Albert, Auckland.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Martin Luther King- "inspiration"

Press Release- Climaction
Contact Joe Carolan – 021 186 1450
Union leaders and activists from across the political spectrum are supporting tomorrow’s CLimaction Carnival Against Climate Change, that will block Queen Street to demand free and frequent public transport as a way of cutting Auckland’s greenhouse gas pollution.
Auckland Green MP Sue Bradford today wished the organisers of Saturday’s Climaction all the best for their rally in Queen St to mark International Climate Change Day on Saturday.
“Lack of action by Government and industry means it’s time for the whole community to come together to raise awareness of the need to take serious sustained action on the issue now, and to talk together about solutions that we will actually make happen.
“The time for ambivalence and inaction is past, and the Green Party welcomes support from all quarters for its longterm campaign to get New Zealand to fulfil its international and planetary obligations to ‘turn down the heat.’
Auckland Regional councillor Robyn Hughes sent an Open Invitation to other elected local body representatives urging them to join a ClimAction "civil disobedience" carnival and debate on climate change in the middle of Queen St. "ClimAction is adopting Martin Luther King's tactics of peaceful civil disobedience to promote public debate and action on climate change, which is the human survival issue of the 21st century," said Robyn Hughes.
"Taking over a section of Queen St for a few hours will spotlight the central problem of greenhouse gas exhaust fumes.

"To those who might say an elected councillor should always obey the road rules, I would reply: 'Tackling climate change so that humanity survives into the next century is more important than breaching some road rules for a couple of hours. Anyway, if more decisive measures on global warming aren't taken, Queen St may be under water in a generation or two, and then we will be swimming, not obeying road rules.'

"By forewarning people that a section of Queen St near
Aotea Square will be a no-go area for vehicles for several hours from 1pm on Saturday, 4 November, motorists can avoid holdups by choosing an alternative route.

"I was elected to the
Auckland Regional Council on the RAM (Residents Action Movement) ticket," said Robyn Hughes. "Over the last few years, RAM has been campaigning for 'free and frequent buses' across our region, a call that has been meeting with growing public sympathy. So I embrace ClimAction's call for 'free and frequent public transport'.

"And RAM supports ClimAction's call for 'system change, not climate change'. We must make radical social changes if humanity and other species are to survive the unprecedented chaos of climate change."
NDU National Secretary Laile Harre also wished the Climaction protesters will on the day-

As awareness of climate change grows, the kind of TINA (there is no alternative) thinking that gave neo-liberalism the upper hand in the 80s and 90s must not be allowed to shut down a debate among the worlds people around the fair and democratic management of limited resources. Economists and management consultants will tell us that only the market can tackle this crisis. After years of market-driven waste and inequality, giving the market the power to fairly allocate the atmosphere would be like getting the Managing Directors of Foodstuffs and Progressive to set the minimum wage.
Fala Haulangi, a unionist active with the SFWU’s CLeanstart campaign for cleaners, spoke of her anger that many Pacific Islands will be completely flooded within decades-
I fully support the International Climate Change Day on Saturday for the following reasons:
1. As a Tuvaluan who lives in New Zealand, global warming has always been a concerm for me and my people because Tuvalu and its people are going to be the first victim of global warming. In 50 years time Tuvalu is going to disappear from this planet. Not because of our choice. This makes me angry and very sad beause we are going to be the first environmental refugees and are forced to go somewhere else which is not the same as HOME.
2. As a union organiser for Service & Food Workers Union / Clean Start campaign we support Climaction because we need free and frequent public transport in Auckland as an environmentally responsible policy that will have major benefits for the working poor who rely mainly on buses and cannot afford a car.
If we are serious about saving the environment, then it is time for the whole community to come together and do something. Talking time is over, it is time for Action Now.
Mike Treen, Auckland Secretary for the Unite Union and a leading activist with Global Peace and Justice Auckland, also pledged his support-
It is welcome that the need to confront global warming is becoming mainstream common sense. What is disturbing is that the solutions being offered - taxes and carbon trading - offer no way forward and will penalise the poor.
Carbon taxes will increase the price of petrol which will be paid for by those using company cars but hit workers who lack adequate public transport. The obvious start is to have a massive increase in public transport available at little or no cost to the user. When that is in place we can think of taxes to encourage greater use not before.
While the World Bank estimates the value of the global carbon market nearly doubled from $11 billion in 2005 to $21.5 billion in 2006, there was no equivalent global increase in carbon emission reductions. In fact, they argue, as the carbon market has soared, global greenhouse gas emissions have continued to rise - a stark indication that a more
pragmatic and direct approach to cutting emissions is urgently needed.
These "market-based" so-called solutions only entrench existing problems, enrich the already rich countries and individuals while discriminated against the poor. We need an alternative that penalised the corporate polluters while protecting the poor. That will require democratic social and economic planning on a national and international scale - the world can't be left to corporate markets to fix.
Finally, Joe Carolan, a central organiser with the Climaction Coalition and a member of Socialist Worker, warned the powers that be that this would be the first of many Climactions over the next few months to spur them into radical action-
Äl Gore is meeting the business elite of Auckland on November 14th. We think big business is the problem, not the solution to climate change, and we will be organising a people’s assembly outside the Business School where he is speaking, challenging Gore to come and talk to the people and debate why need a massive system change to halt climate change. Kyoto and greenwashed capitalism is not enough- we need a revolutionary transformation of economic and political priorities with in a decade. We invite people to this assembly as a chance to debate with Gore what possible solutions are needed to the many problems he raises in his otherwise excellent film.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Monbiot- Save the planet in 10 steps

With the publication of the Stern report, the consensus on climate change is clear.
Here's what we need to do.

by George Monbiot- UK journalist very involved in Global Justice movement

October 30, 2006 06:52 PM
It is a testament to the power of money that Nicholas Stern's report should have swung the argument for drastic action, even before anyone has finished reading it. He appears to have demonstrated what many of us suspected: that it would cost much less to prevent runaway climate change than to seek to live with it. Useful as this finding is, I hope it doesn't mean that the debate will now concentrate on money. The principal costs of climate change will be measured in lives, not pounds. As Stern reminded us today, there would be a moral imperative to seek to prevent mass death even if the economic case did not stack up.

But at least almost everyone now agrees that we must act, if not at the necessary speed. If we're to have a high chance of preventing global temperatures from rising by 2C (3.6F) above preindustrial levels, we need, in the rich nations, a 90% reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2030. The greater part of the cut has to be made at the beginning of this period. To see why, picture two graphs. One falls like a ski jump: a steep drop followed by a shallow tail. The other falls like the trajectory of a bullet. The area under each line represents the total volume of greenhouse gases produced in that period. They fall to the same point by the same date, but far more gases have been produced in the second case, making runaway climate change more likely.

So how do we do it without bringing civilisation crashing down? Here is a plan for drastic but affordable action that the government could take. It goes much further than the proposals discussed by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown today, for the reason that this is what the science demands.

1 Set a target for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions based on the latest science. The government is using outdated figures, aiming for a 60% reduction by 2050. Even the annual 3% cut proposed in the early day motion calling for a new climate change bill does not go far enough. Timescale: immediately.

2 Use that target to set an annual carbon cap, which falls on the ski-jump trajectory. Then use the cap to set a personal carbon ration. Every citizen is given a free annual quota of carbon dioxide. He or she spends it by buying gas and electricity, petrol and train and plane tickets. If they run out, they must buy the rest from someone who has used less than his or her quota. This accounts for about 40% of the carbon dioxide we produce. The rest is auctioned off to companies. It's a simpler and fairer approach than either green taxation or the EU's emissions trading scheme, and it also provides people with a powerful incentive to demand low-carbon technologies. Timescale: a full scheme in place by January 2009.

3 Introduce a new set of building regulations, with three objectives: A. Imposing strict energy-efficiency requirements on all major refurbishments costing £3,000 or more. Timescale: in force by June 2007. B. Obliging landlords to bring their houses up to high energy-efficiency standards before they can rent them out. Timescale: to cover all new rentals from January 2008. C. Ensuring that all new homes in the UK are built to the German passivhaus standard (which requires no heating system). Timescale: in force by 2012.

4 Ban the sale of incandescent lightbulbs, patio heaters, garden floodlights and other wasteful and unnecessary technologies. Introduce a stiff "feebate" system for all electronic goods sold in this country. The least efficient are taxed heavily while the most efficient receive tax discounts. Every year the standards in each category rise. Timescale: fully implemented by November 2007.

5 Redeploy the money currently earmarked for new nuclear missiles towards a massive investment in energy generation and distribution. Two squire government support to make them commercially viable: very large wind farms, many miles offshore, connected to the grid with high-voltage, direct-current cables; and a hydrogen pipeline network to take over from the natural gas grid as the primary means of delivering fuel for home heating. Timescale: both programmes commence at the end of 2007 and are completed by 2018.

6 Promote the development of a new national coach network. City centre coach stations are shut down and moved to motorway junctions. Urban public transport networks are extended to meet them. The coaches travel on dedicated lanes and never leave the motorways. Journeys by public transport
then become as fast as journeys by car, while saving 90% of emissions. It is
self-financing, through the sale of the land now used for coach stations. Timescale: commences in 2008; completed by 2020.

7 Oblige all chains of filling stations to supply leasable electric car batteries. This provides electric cars with unlimited mileage: as the battery runs down, you pull into a forecourt. A crane lifts it out and drops in a fresh one. The batteries are charged overnight with surplus electricity from offshore wind farms. Timescale: fully operational by 2011.

8 Abandon the road-building and road-widening programme, and spend the money on tackling climate change. The government has earmarked £11.4bn for new roads. It claims to be allocating just £545m a year to "spending policies that tackle climate change". Timescale: immediately.

9 Freeze and then reduce UK airport capacity. While capacity remains high there will be constant upward pressure on any scheme the government introduces to limit flights. We need a freeze on all new airport construction and the introduction of a national quota for landing slots, to be reduced by 90% by 2030. Timescale: immediately.

10 Legislate for the closure of all out-of-town superstores, and their replacement with a warehouse and delivery system. Shops use a staggering amount of energy (six times as much electricity per square metre as factories, for example), and major reductions are hard to achieve: Tesco's "state of the art" energy-saving store at Diss in Norfolk, has managed to cut its energy use by only 20%. Warehouses containing the same quantity of goods use roughly 5% of the energy. Out-of-town shops are also hardwired to the car - delivery vehicles use 70% less fuel. Timescale: fully implemented by 2012.

These timescales might seem extraordinarily ambitious. They are, in contrast to the current plodding pace of change. But when America entered the second world war, it turned the economy around on a sixpence. Carmakers began producing aircraft and missiles within a year, and amphibious vehicles in 90 days, from a standing start. And that was 65 years ago. If we want this to happen, we can make it happen. It will require more economic intervention than we are used to, and some pretty brutal emergency planning policies (with little time or scope for objections). But if you believe that
these are worse than mass death, then there is something wrong with your value system.

Climate change is not just a moral question: it is the moral question of the 21st century. There is one position even more morally culpable than denial. That is to accept that it's happening and that its results will be catastrophic, but to fail to take the measures needed to prevent it.

Feeling the Heat?

Interview by Andrew Stone, October 2006

Governments and big business clamour to show their green credentials but their 'solutions' fall way short of what is necessary. George Monbiot talked to Andrew Stone about his new book, Heat, and the more radical policies he believes are essential.

George Monbiot does not start Heat, his prospectus for fighting climate change, with melting glaciers or parched soil. He begins with the metaphor of Faust, the 16th century cautionary tale popularised by dramatist Christopher Marlowe in The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus: "Faust is a man who swaps the long term for the short term," he tells me, "in order to have 24 years of indulging himself to the absolute limit. He strikes a deal with the devil. He can get whatever he wants now, in return for eternal damnation. He refuses to believe that eternal damnation is a reality.

"Now, I'm not saying that climate change is eternal damnation, but it is a massive long term problem, which we are currently trading for a few decades of 'pleasant fruits and princely delicates', to quote from Marlowe. Like Faust, for a few earthly delights we are sacrificing the well-being of the biosphere for at least a couple of hundred years, probably for a lot longer.

"It's just not worth it. The pleasures we have extracted - such as bigger and faster cars, more and more junk to throw in the landfill, and food brought in from further and further afield - are not fundamental components of our well-being, and yet we're trading them for fundamental components of our well-being in the future."

The metaphor, fleshed out in greater detail in Monbiot's book, seems remarkably apt. Monbiot's ability to communicate complex ideas accessibly have made him a popular columnist and speaker for the environmental and global justice movements. He needs these skills in Heat to take the reader through a maze of complex and often contradictory economic and physical calculations. His aim? To prove that Britain can make 90 percent cuts in its emissions of carbon dioxide (the leading greenhouse gas) by 2030.

I ask why such a huge cut, when the Kyoto agreement only called for an average 5.2 percent cut by industrialised nations. "The Kyoto figure bears no relationship to any scientific assessment of what needs to be done. It was entirely a matter of political convenience. The purpose of Kyoto was to get some sort of figure on the table and to get some kind of action. But it's only a very small fraction of where we need to go.

"As the biosphere's ability to absorb carbon declines, and as the human population rises, just in order to stay where we are in terms of our total carbon emission and its relationship to the natural world, we need a 60 percent cut, which means a 90 percent cut in the rich nations."

This unequal cut emerges from the fact that carbon emissions per person are many times higher in Britain than in the poorer countries that will tend to suffer first and hardest from climate change. As a result, the model of contraction and convergence has gained widespread recognition. It proposes that each person in the world is allocated the right to pollute a set amount. The allocation would need to begin much higher for those in the more profligate richer countries, but would rapidly contract until it converged with that of the poorer countries.

This equitable proposition is less contentious than the method of achieving it. Much has been made of the potential for creating a market in emission allocations. Monbiot explains why the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme has set such a poor precedent: "It's founded on a great injustice, which is that the right to pollute, which should be fairly distributed among all the people in the world, has been given in big chunks to corporations. They were just handed an allocation which reflected the amount of pollution they had produced in the past. So instead of the polluter paying, in this case the polluter was paid. The more pollution they had caused, the bigger their allocation, so some of them have done very well out of it.

"The scheme can only work if at the same time you have a commitment to cutting emissions across the economy. It's simply a tool - by itself it's not a mechanism for reducing emissions." And perhaps quite a counterproductive tool, I suggest, given that the "hidden hand of the market" has done so much to create the problem. "Exactly. It's this mystical faith in market forces' ability to do everything, even reversing problems that it has caused in the past. There's this sense that we'll leave it to the market because it's terrifically convenient. But unless the government is prepared to create a framework within which those markets function then it's just not going to work at all."

Monbiot's alternative proposal is for a system of carbon rationing. While not rejecting the market outright, it more closely circumscribes its privileges. "It starts from the presumption of fairness - that everybody gets an equal ration. The corporations aren't given the rations that belong to us. Because carbon emissions are very closely correlated to income, the poorer you are, the more money you are likely to get from that system, because the more surplus ration you are likely to be able to sell on. So there's a redistribution of wealth built into the system, which is very important. If it's done through taxation, for example, the rich can just spend more money. They can just drive their Ferraris as far and as often as they want, because they can afford to do it. It's only the poor who won't be able to do it, because they'll be stung by the taxation.

"Eco-taxes have the potential to be very regressive. They don't always have to be, but you have to organise them very cleverly if they're not going to be. But a rationing system has fairness built into it. It's also very good for concentrating the mind. You've got this certain amount of carbon and you've got to decide how you're going to use it. You've got the freedom to choose how you use it but you know that if you're going to drive a Ferrari you can't heat your house."

Big business is fond of telling us that energy efficiency is the answer. Heat details why a mixture of empty corporate bombast and lack of politics combine to make their claims hollow. "While some people have been claiming that you can do the whole thing through energy efficiency, that's simply wrong. For example, across the whole housing stock, between now and 2030 about 30 percent cuts are possible. Because so many of our houses are so badly built, this can't be remedied beyond a certain point."

But significant potential does exist. "In other areas, for instance surface transport, there's a huge scope for energy efficiency. You can't get a 90 percent cut through efficiency measures alone - that obviously requires a change in the mode of transport - but there's some very big scope for efficiency there."

Green shibboleths

However there is a phenomenon, intrinsic to the drive for capital accumulation, which means that market-led energy efficiency could actually exacerbate the problem. Sounding more like a sci-fi cartoon than an economic theory, the Khazzoom-Brookes Postulate builds on the 19th century observation of Stanley Jevons that decreasing the amount of coal needed to produce iron led to an overall increase in iron production. Since then, the world's energy efficiency has improved by about 1 percent per year. Yet our fuel consumption, with one or two blips, has risen steadily.

"It's an extraordinary proposition - that energy efficiency increases energy usage - the reason being that it releases capital for use on more energy intensive processes because the implicit cost of energy falls.

"I have to emphasise that this is a postulate. We don't know for sure that it functions but if it does then it's another good reason why the market alone can't work. Left to the market, it means that the energy efficiency measures which companies and people might take simply free up money which they can then invest in more energy intensive processes. So the energy efficiency measures that you introduce have to be locked in place with government regulations."

Monbiot is prepared to dismiss a few green shibboleths when discussing renewable power. "We have to be honest about these things. There's no point pursuing fake solutions. Climate change doesn't brook fake solutions. It responds simply to the amount of carbon that you put out.

"Some technologies in particular - micro-wind, solar power and biofuels - have been massively overhyped, quite irresponsibly by some of the people who have been selling them. They can make only a very small contribution to solving the problem. For example, in most cases biofuels are actually worse than fossil fuels in terms of their total climate impact.

"When it comes to electricity, my favoured solution involves two things. First of all, massive off-shore wind farms, built on a very large scale right across the continental shelf. By using high voltage direct current lines you can bring the electricity in from a very long way away without losing any of it, allowing you to extract renewable power from a much wider area than using alternating current.

"The other half of our energy supply would come from carbon capture and storage, which means stripping the carbon dioxide out of the exhaust of power stations and piping it away into salt water aquifers under the seabed. That technology is now fairly well established."

There are some important riders to this suggestion. Monbiot notes that regulation would be necessary to prevent carbon capture being used as a stalking horse for further fossil fuel extraction. "The coal industry loves the idea of what it calls 'clean coal'. It thinks that just because one part of the process is being sorted out, the whole process is then acceptable. Huge opencast pits, built around people's communities, are not acceptable under any circumstances."

Heat is very attentive to the relative market costs of energy. I ask Monbiot if there is a danger of losing sight of social costs and benefits. "Of course we have to take into account the fact that all costs exerted by any form of energy are not just costs which can be measured on a balance sheet. But it is important to make sure that the sources of energy we call for are as cheap as carbon resources, simply because our money then goes further. Solar panels are many dozens of times more expensive than producing energy from on-shore wind. So if you are faced with a choice of using £1 billion to install solar panels, or £1 billion to install wind turbines, you should go for the wind turbines, not the solar panels.

"However, there's no doubt that you've got to take into account all sorts of other issues as well. In that case you have to take into account that a lot of people very strongly object to having wind turbines put in scenic areas. But you have to have good value for money if you're going to have any hope of persuading people that it's worth investing in alternative energy."

We move on to another thorny issue - how to get people to drive less.

"This is a big problem. Technologically, it's incredibly easy to solve. In the book I champion the coach system proposed by economist Alan Storkey. At the moment, coaches are appalling. They're incredibly slow, a deeply depressing experience. You're made to feel like a third class citizen. They trundle in and out of the city centre, which is just insane.

"You need to have coaches which stick entirely to the motorways, with coach stops on the motorway junctions, linking up with public transport from the city centres. It could be an extremely fast, efficient and comfortable service, with coaches on dedicated lanes on the motorways, given priority at traffic lights. They would actually be moving faster than the cars on the motorway.

"I accept that there are many things that people enjoy about driving their car. But I think that when they see coaches whizzing past them on the inside lane when they're stuck in a traffic jam, they're going to wonder if it's worth it. When they see that people in coaches will be able to watch films, work on their laptops, sleep, eat and drink, a lot of people are going to see that travelling by coach is a superior option."

Monbiot admits that he has been less successful in proposing a substitute for the fastest growing source of emissions - aviation. "I became so desperate that I even contemplated airships," he laughs. "Of all the possible solutions, that might be the best one if we're to keep flying, however improbable it sounds.

"There are no good technological substitutes. Richard Branson is now saying that he's investing £1.6 billion in alternative fuels and technologies for aviation. Well, if indeed that's what he thinks he's doing, he's wasting his money. Those alternatives do not exist. There are a very narrow range of conditions which allow flight. There's no foreseeable alternative to the jet engine at the moment; there's no foreseeable alternative to kerosene as jet fuel. I'm not saying that will always be the case, but we have to deal with the problem of aviation right now. The only way of dealing with it is by grounding most of the planes which are flying today."

One proposed method for achieving this is to levy aviation fuel tax. Some campaigners argue that such green taxes would drive up the cost of flying and so reduce its frequency. Monbiot resists this argument: "I'm not too keen on taxation as a method anyway, because I think that carbon rationing is much fairer, and it's much less punitive for the poor. But in particular, aviation fuel tax is just a non-starter. You'd have to unpick 4,000 bilateral trade agreements linked to the 1944 Chicago Convention, and that's simply impossible in the kind of timescale that we're talking about."

A tax on aviation profits would probably be preferable, but I am disturbed by the second part of Monbiot's explanation. For the kind of economic restructuring climate change requires we are going to have to tear up some rule books. Monbiot is one of the foremost critics of world trade rules, and their devastating effect on the world's poor. But his logic of creating a carbon economy inside the existing one risks accommodating the latter for the sake of the former.

Even the best metaphor will only illuminate some features for comparison. Seen as a cautionary tale for humanity personified, the Faust metaphor works. But it cannot encompass the contradictions within humanity - between the tiny minority who direct the world's economy and the rest of us. But when I ask Monbiot about the corporate disinformation campaign of the "climate sceptics", you would think we were all equally culpable for climate change:

"One of the reasons why companies like Exxon have been so successful at persuading us that climate change isn't happening is that we want to be persuaded - we don't want to believe it. Just like Faust, who said, 'Thinketh thou... that, after this life, there is any pain? Tush, these are trifles and mere old wives' tales.' We are exactly the same. We want to be fooled."

While Heat is principally a demonstration of what is possible, it does conclude with an appeal to campaign. Disappointingly, its point of reference is the small environmental protests of the 1990s rather than the anti-war movement. Still, Monbiot is clear that "we need to launch the biggest popular campaign that the world has ever seen". Unfortunately, his emphasis on our psychological denial persists. "We need to persuade governments that if they opt for controlling climate change they will not be unpopular as a result - in fact the people are behind them. At the moment governments can be quite complacent about this, because they know that we want them to pretend to act. We don't want them to actually do what needs to be done - we want them to pretend to do what needs to be done."

It will require austerity, says Monbiot. "It hasn't happened very often in the past," he laughs, and thinks of a chant: "What do we want? Less bread!"

Capitalists need to constantly create new markets, for which they have to create new needs and desires. Monbiot argues that "this constant growth of the amount of goods and services available is just totally unnecessary for our quality of life. And it begins to reduce our quality of life as well. As more and more roads are built, as more and more airports are built, life becomes less and less peaceful and pleasant. In the rich countries we've got quite enough of everything already, if only we distributed it properly."

That prize, of ridding ourselves of atomised communities and alienated working lives, is a worthy one we will need to combine with the fight to save the planet. But I think we need to work on the chants.