Describe the company – the elevator pitch …
Plan B is supporting a programme of legal action to tackle climate change. We’ve got a crazy situation where we know climate change is going to have devastating consequences for humanity, the planet and our children; but we keep driving in the same direction (more or less). It’s not that the situation is actually out of our control. It’s that our political systems aren’t equipped to deal with long-term, cross border threats on this scale. That leaves us with two choices
- Find the nearest corner and a bottle of gin; or
- Take action through the courts, which are well equipped to take rational action on the basis of scientific evidence.
Plan B is supporting Option 2.
— PlanB (@PlanB_earth) November 19, 2016
How are you different
There are other not-for-profit organisations of environmental lawyers supporting action to address climate change. Often such organisations have a regional focus and bring cases in response to particular projects or activities. We work with them and ensure our activities our complementary and mutually supportive.
Plan B is unique in focussing on the development of a net-worked, international legal strategy to meet the long-term climate goal; and in developing and publishing legal tools and resources to support citizens, NGOs and others in bringing their own actions around the globe.
Why will the company / product do well?
Because 7.4 billion people (and counting) depend on it doing well: and that’s a lot of energy if we can harness it in the right way. With politics in disarray it’s more obvious than ever that governments can’t cope with climate change on their own. People are increasingly recognising the need for legal action, and in recent years courts in jurisdictions as diverse as The Netherlands, Pakistan and the US have demonstrated its potential to succeed, setting valuable precedent we can build upon.
Where are you based?
PlanB operates as a network, which links lawyers, scientists and policy-makers around the world. The Charity itself is registered in the UK, and I’m based in London.
When was the company launched?
Just over a year ago in the build up to the UN Climate Change conference in Paris (COP21). Initially we didn’t have any formal legal status. Our charitable status was confirmed in June this year.
What have been your biggest wins to date?
Our principal objective for the Paris Agreement was to ensure it didn’t prevent countries from recovering compensation for climate change loss and damage under international law. The penultimate version of the text included language that we had proposed to the UN Secretariat. Although the language changed in the final version of the text, the overall objective was secured.
Thousands of people are dying in the Philippines as a result of super-Typhoons, turbo-charged by climate change and the additional heat and energy that it brings. Greenpeace Southeast Asia have launched a Petition to the Philippines Human Rights Commission, seeking an investigation into the violation of the right to life, and the role of carbon majors such as Exxon. Plan B has submitted an amicus brief to assist the Commission in its deliberations. We hope this becomes a ‘big win’ for all concerned.
What type of people (market segment) are you trying to attract to your product?
We don’t sell a product; but we’ve got a Plan. We want everyone who cares about the future to get behind it. Businesses, NGOs, concerned citizens and parents – they’ve all got a stake.
Tell us about your team?
I’m a barrister, who spent most of my career specializing in international criminal law and human rights law. I’ve come to see climate change as both a slow-motion crime against humanity and the most serious and urgent threat to human rights around the world.
Trustees include a former Cabinet Minister from Guyana, someone from the Oxford Martin School, which brings an interdisciplinary approach to researching global challenges, the Director of a London-based Contemporary Arts and Learning Centre, the founder the Internet Watch Foundation, and the founder of an international firm of Patent Attornies. We’ve got a business support manager who keeps the logistics in order. It makes for a diverse but wonderful team.
We collaborate with a range of other organisations and networks including the Global Commons Institute and the Climate Genocide Act Now team.
What are you long term plans for your product / company?
Time is short. There are just a few years to get global greenhouse gas emissions off a trajectory leading to runaway climate change. So we have a five year strategic plan for achieving the following three objectives:
That by 2021:
(SO 1) Existing legal principles, which provide accountability and responsibility for climate change loss and damage, have been successfully applied and integrated into the market economy;
(SO 2) Robust, science-based policy, legal and regulatory frameworks have been implemented nationally and internationally; and that
(SO 3) Victims of climate change have access to effective protections and remedies.
What are your favourite tech gadgets?
I like the GoDaddy web-site builder. And the Internet! Without which Plan B would not be possible.
What tech gadgets do you wish you could use to help you?
A device for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and turning it into a clean source of energy. And a device to prevent fossil fuel interests spreading miss-information about climate change.
Anything else you’d like to add / we should have asked?
Climate change can be controlled. But only if people understand that it’s their problem, and their childrens’ problem, and stop kidding themselves that ‘it might never happen.’
How do people get in touch with you